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All about Jam
- Jams are made with fresh fruits and juices although, frozen fruit juices are also used with liquid pectin or commercially prepared powdered pectin. Pectin with low-sugar or no-sugar are also used for making jams though, these may be softer and not able to hold their color as well as those prepared with higher-sugar pectin since sugar acts as a preservative while making jams.
- Jams are made either with a single fruit or with a combination of different fruits. The level of ripeness for different fruits varies although most of them are harvested during fall. While slightly under-ripe peaches, pears, strawberries, apricots and raspberries gel well, ripe cherries and plums give the best jams.
- Various fruits are used for making jams with different flavors , including blackberry, red raspberry, boysenberry, blueberry, strawberry, gooseberry, loganberry, dewberry, youngberry, apricot, fig, peach, pear, currant, rhubarb, orange marmalade, cherry, grape, spiced tomato and plum.
- Either sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, which is a product of fermentation of cornstarch, or even a combination of both are used to sweeten the fruits. The ideal sugar used for preserving the fruit is cane sugar chips.
- The gelling agent is pectin, which is present in fruits but in varying degrees. Blackberries, apples, grapes, citrus fruits, cherries, cranberries and quinces have high content of this natural gel while apricots and strawberries have low pectin level. To achieve the required sweetness for jams made with these fruits, they are either combined with fruits which have high levels of pectin or extra sugar is added to it. Pectin can also be extracted from dried apples industrially.
- The correct balance which is needed to produce the jam is obtained by adding citric acid, especially from lime and lemon juice which have high amounts of citric acid. Fermentation of sugar also produces citric acid.
- Other flavors, such as cinnamon, vanilla, mint or alcoholic beverages like rum or Kirsch, are purchased from outside sources and added to the jam.
- Manufacturing Jams / Jellies
- Inspection: On arrival at the plant, the fruits are checked for quality, ripeness, taste and color.
- Cleaning, Chopping and Crushing: The fruits are then sprayed with water and cleaned, the fruit or its juice is separated depending on whether the product will be jam or jelly and stems are debris is left behind. Apples and citrus are manually peeled, sliced and diced while cherries are first soaked, then pitted and crushed.
- Pasteurization of the Fruit: The process of pasteurization prevents the spoilage of the jam or the jelly. The fruit or its juice is heated in cooking vats to just below the boiling point of 100 degrees and then immediately allowed to chill just below freezing point of 0 degree. They are transferred to refrigerated tanks and from there they are pumped to industrial cooking kettles when needed.
- Making the Jam or Jelly: Pre-measured amount of the fruit or juice are blended with pectin and sugar in cooking kettles and alternately cooked and cooled, usually thrice. Additional flavorings are added. After the required consistency is achieved the product is pumped into filling machines.
- Filling up the Jars: The prepared jam or jelly is pour into pre-sterilized jars, sealed and labels affixed to them.
Though the production technique will remain almost same, new flavors will be brought in. More exotic jams with newer flavors are being introduced continually. To find out more about flavors for jams, click here.