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Mitchel's Basic Jam Recipe

Most importantly: NOTHING is easier. The basic rule I use is as follows:

  • Use a little less than half as much volume of sugar as of prepared fruit,
  • mix in a heavy pan,
  • boil at fairly high heat until reduced to desired consistency
    (remember that
    1. the final product will be significantly thicker when cooled down, and
    2. the jam will continue to cook even once you have turned off the flame).

From this basic rule, you can play around to your heart's content.

My basic approach for fruit that requires preparation (unlike raspberries, for example) is:

  • mash ½ or 60% of the fruit (the most ripe and damaged) by putting them in a pyrex and stabbing them repeatedly with a fork.
  • put it in the pan with slightly less than the same volume of sugar.
  • Bring it to a fast boil, scraping the bottom of the pan increasingly as the mixture thickens to slightly thicker than you would want the final product to be. This is what I call the "base."
  • Skim the white stuff once in a while as it all boils if you want the jam to be clear.
  • Then add the rest of the fruit, cut into fairly big pieces - quarters for apricots. This fruit will render its juice, loosening up the already cooked "base."
  • Cook only a bit and turn off the flame. This way the desired consistency is reached: the base cooked through and gone "clear" on rather high heat, with the fruit pieces still recognizable and even relatively "fresh" tasting (though now candied). Remember that these pieces will continue to cook through long after you have turned off the flame.
  • The jam will firm up a good amount when allowed to cool.
  • When cool, put into jars. To properly sterilize the jars, ask someone else. That's not really my style... (If the jars aren't properly sterilized before being sealed, the jam can develop botulism, which is potentially fatal. Unsealed jars can be refrigerated and will keep for a while; this jam usually doesn't last long!)

OK? Now go out there, buy lots of fruit at the farmer's market, and produce jam 10 times better than what you get in the stores.

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