No cook jam
Summer is upon us in Australia and no doubt there is an abundance of fruit for home gardeners. Excess fruit brings jam-making to mind. And if you bake your own bread at home, like me, you definitely want to consider making your own jam. Whether at low or high temperature, most jams are cooked. My recipe is for a no cook jam.
Jam is considered as unhealthy food these days. It is loaded with sugar and cooking at high temperatures destroys nutrients. Commercial jam also contains food additives such as acidity regulators, emulsifiers, colour and preservatives.
There are some small businesses such as www.hanksfood.com that cook at low temperatures for 5 hours and their website claims they use only top quality fruits – no preservatives and food additives. Some believe cooking long hours at low temperature is better than cooking at high temperature for 10 minutes. In reality they are both just as bad. Cooking at low temperature for 10 minutes might be worth considering as a healthy option but not if it is for hours.
Still, for those who can’t make their own jam, it is a healthier option to buy something like Hank’s jams than the typical commercial jam at the supermarket that has preservatives and additives.
I offer a method to make no cook jam that is so easy anyone can do this at home. In addition there is no canning, no refractometer to measure sugar content, no need for freezing as they do with freezer jams and no need to test for setting.
You will however need a juicer that can also make nut butters. I use a masticating juicer which cold presses at 200 rpm or less. It is called Vitality4Life Oscar 900. A cold press juicer will retain all the vital nutrients in the fruits (read my article Juicing: Hype or Holy Grail ).
Follow the simple recipe below. If you would like to learn a few keys on how to ensure you get the best results, best taste and nutrition for this no cook jam read on further after the recipe.
No cook jam
2 1/2 cups of fruit
This should approximately fill a 300 gm jar.
1 Chop the fruit in medium size chunks. Remove pit and stem, if any, but not the skin.
2. Place the chopped fruits in a zip lock bag. Seal and refridgerate for two to three days. If you refridgerate longer it could reduce further the level of pectin (more about pectin below) in the fruit and you might not get a good set. I have never left mine longer than 6 days. Also the Vitamin C in the fruits are greatly reduced through long freezing.
3. After freezing, the fruits will soften which traditionally is achieved through boiling the fruits. Take the fruits out of the zip lock bag and put them in a sieve to let the icy particles melt and remove as much water as possible. Leave them in the sieve for about 4 hours till it has come down completely to room temperature.
4. Now I put this through the mincing screen of my Vitality4Life Oscar 900. I don’t juice it but mince it so the machine does not separate the pulp from the juice.
5. Then I return the minced fruit to the sieve, add the lemon juice and drain further all water out of it. This could take a few more hours. Just keep mixing it in the sieve at intervals to drain as well as to let the lemon juice regulate the acidity.
6. I have made no-cook jam with a mix of nectrine and apricots and then plum and blueberries. Some of these fruits are sourish and if you would like to add a little sugar, add it at the same time as you add lemon juice. Blueberries are naturally low in pectin and the end result may not be as thick but if you follow the procedure of draining with the sieve, even blueberries will end up with a good set.
7. I use the drained liquid/juice to make a pro-biotic drink. See recipes for pro-biotic juices
Always make sure your fruits come from a reliable source, i.e. no chemicals or pesticides used in growing and harvesting the fruits. I include the peel of the fruits in my jam as peels contain a high level of pectin (more on pectin below) which is commonly used to thicken jam. So if the fruits have been exposed to chemicals the peels would be where the highest level of contamination is found. They should be discarded if you find yourself having to eat non-organic fruit.
This is the fibre found in the cell walls or skin of the fruit and mainly relied on for thickening jam. As pectin reacts with the sugar in the jam to create a gel-like texture during the process of cooking often recipes that call for commercial pectin would require 55 – 85% of the jam to be sugar in order to set properly. Powdered commercial pectin which is the most commonly used for jam usually contains additives such as dextrose.
Some people like to mix unripe and ripe fruits because unripe fruits have more pectin. This is one way to avoid commercial pectin. But you will need to cook the jam as the pectin in unripe fruits are not soluble.
My recipe for this no cook jam uses the natural pectin in the fruit itself. As I don’t cook my jam which is a requirement in many recipes in order for the pectin to set properly, I have to use fully ripe fruits so the pectin will dissolve completely into the mashed fruit.
Some fruits do not contain high pectin such as blueberries. You may add chia seeds to the jam to thicken for such fruits.
There is enough sugar in the fully ripe fruits. So I don’t add any extra. Sugar is a preservative and many feel that insufficient sugar will cause the jam to spoil. But I have placed my jam, which have no additional sugar other than the natural sugar in the fruits, in the refridgerator only, and not freezer, for up to three weeks and it has not spoiled. I believe it can go longer for up to a month even but it never lasts long enough for me to find out.
I fill my jars with jam and stick them straight in the refridgerator. I don’t do any canning which is said to be a requirement for preservation. I simply rely on the sugar in the fruit and lemon juice to preserve the jam.