Jamming in the kitchen

It’s high strawberry season here, and the local strawberries are gorgeous.

hoods

These are Hoods. They are smaller, softer, and sweeter than your grocery store variety of strawberry. They wouldn’t travel well, which is why we just have to enjoy them locally. I bought a half flat of berries to make strawberry jam.
Et voila! I used the reduced sugar version of MCP pectin, which set up nicely.

jam float

If you look at the two jars, you can see that the fruit is floating in the jar on the right, but the fruit in the jar on the left is evenly distributed. I didn’t water process the jar on the left because I was going to use it this week. Hmmmm. Why does the fruit float in my jam? I went on an internet hunt for some answers, and I found these: There was air in the fruit because I chopped it instead of crushing it (no, I only crushed it), or I didn’t cook it long enough for it to be thick enough to keep the fruit from separating (but this would only apply to the long cooking used for jams without added pectin, which mine was not).

I guess I don’t really care WHY the fruit floats; I just want it not to float. It tastes great, but I want it to look pretty as a gift. I don’t want to tell the recipient to stir it to distribute the fruit after opening it. I also want the jam to not have the bubbles from the foam. Here are my options for prettier jam:

1) Add a bit of butter to the jam while cooking, to reduce foaming.

2) Stir and skim for 5 minutes to allow the jam to gel a bit more before before putting it in the jars. The skimming would eliminate some of the foam, which tastes fine but isn’t pretty. I don’t think this stir and skim will keep the fruit from floating, though; the high temperature of the water bath processing keeps the jam more liquid than the non processed jam, and the fruit will still be able to float through the jam until it is cool.

3) Invert the jars a few times as they cool, to move the fruit around as the jam thickens. I think this is going to be the solution to the fruit float. I just have to make jam before midnight so I don’t have to babysit it all night long to do the inversions! Next time I’ll add some balsamic vinegar to make it strawberry balsamic jam. It seems to be the hot new flavor combo around here; I just saw strawberry/honey/balsamic/black pepper ice cream at Salt and Straw.

Just like sweaters; sometimes you have to do things twice to get exactly what you want!

progress3
(please excuse the lazy picture; it’s raining out and gloomy inside!)

I just separated the sleeves from the body on my Raspberry Vodka Lemonade, and tried it on. I’m going to go back and add 4 more rows (2 more YO rows) to make the armscye a tad deeper, and the body just a little bigger. I’m between sizes, and chose to knit the smaller size, but an extra 2 sts on the fronts and 4 sts on the back should give me the fit I want. This pattern is a very fun knit so far, simple enough to multi-task, but enough going on that it’s not boring. That makes it a perfect knit for me.

What’s your perfect knit? Mindless? Follow a chart every moment? Somewhere in between?

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9 responses to “Jamming in the kitchen

  1. I’m still in a weird, feel no desire to knit right now, phase. I’ve been spinning instead.

    I’m also still weird in that I prefer my strawberry jam as a freezer jam. Its the one berry for me that gets a weird plasticy flavor when heat processed. It just totally changes the flavor of the berry. So I get a freezer full of strawberry freezer jam and a pantry full of all other berries. ;-) Really hope that I can get some raspberry jam done this year.

    Sweater looks cute!

  2. I don’t have a very creative mind so I have to follow a pattern to a tee. I seem to like patterns that aren’t too complex but not too easy. I like something I can watch television while knitting. I’m finishing up the Aestlight shawl and it’s a perfect knit for me.
    Love the strawberries!

  3. morewithles

    That jam looks amazing. I want to learn to can but I’m scared of botulism! :) Your sweater looks fantastic!

    • Botulism isn’t really an issue with high acid, high sugar food (jam). Mold might be, if you don’t handle things right, but that would be pretty obvious. Botulism is an issue with low acid things, which is why I only make jam, no canned veggies or meats. I’m a big chicken!

      Sweater is a fun knit so far!

  4. I have the exact same issue with jam! I’ve been told by someone who makes more jam than I do to invert the jars after they’ve sealed, but she believes you just have to do it the once, and then leave it be. If your jam is pretty thick, it *might* take a while for the fruit pieces to make their way to the top.

    Those berries look *amazing*. I need to see if we can pick any up at the farmers’ markets here yet. :)

    • Once is probably enough! I did play with one of the jars before it cooled completely, and it looked better than the rest. I think it just gets thicker as it cools, which keeps the fruit from moving around so much. So one inversion after it’s sealed while it’s still hot, and then turn it back after a bit so that it’s not all stuck to the lid. Round two begin!

      (I wonder how they do this with commercial jam?)

  5. I imagine flipping the jar a few times would distribute the fruit better throughout the space. Strawberry balsamic jam sounds delish–sweet and sour. I like to add a kick to it by adding jalapeno.

    After three sweaters, I am doing a light leafy scarf until new yarn to arrive for two more shop samples :D I like some intricate details that is intuitive in my knit, absorb, memorize, then off to knitting without looking at the pattern and instruction. That’s my kind of happy knit.

  6. quiltyknitwit

    Oh, that jam looks delicious! What lucky recipients.

  7. If you want to give me some of that ‘defective’ jam, I won’t be offended. :)

    I usually have a couple of projects going. Easy knitting for car trips – for taking with me in general, it can’t have a bunch of directions or charts. Medium knitting for tv, and hard (six charts, a zillion mirrored cables, tiny needles, add as you go beads, etc) for a specific thing I want to own.