This week I’ve had several people write me looking for a great cooked jam recipe. When we talk about a cooked jam we are referring to a jam where we’re going to grind and cook down the fruit a bit and then either store it in the freezer or process it for preserving in jars. Personally, I am a fan of using a fresh method when it comes to delicate fruits like berries, but I love cooking apricots, peaches, plums and other seed fruits because I feel like it brings out the natural flavors and sugars of those fruits and adds a really great texture.
When we work with these fruits we use Thick Gel which is approved for use in products which will be preserved either in the freezer or canned. In the case of jams the acid is generally high enough that they can be waterbathed, though the time they need in the bath will depend on your location and can be looked up in the Ball Blue Book or on your local state extension service website.
To prepare fruits for jamming they should be washed and, as necessary, peeled and ground down. The amount of sugar in this recipe is a suggested sugar level and can be changed according to taste. If you have a tarter fruit you can add additional sugar, or you can use less. Unlike pectin the Thick Gel (or E-Z Gel, I’ll give you amounts and methods for both), does not require the sugar to thicken. So the sugar is there for bulk and flavor alone.
In this recipe and any other canning recipe when lemon juice is listed it should be commercially bottled juice, not fresh. The reason is that the commercially prepared juice has a consistent pH level, which cannot be said for fresh lemons.
Once you’ve got the base recipe it is also fun to add other flavors. I often replace a cup of peaches or apricots with a cup of crushed pineapple, and I love to add a couple teaspoons of vanilla to my peach jam. These minor additions, like the sugar, won’t affect the thickening ability of the starch so you can use them where you couldn’t necessarily make such substitutions with a pectin jam.
Cooked Apricot or Peach Jam (plum and such works well too)
12 c. ground or chopped apricots or peaches
4 1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. lemon juice
Add 3 c. sugar to fruit and juice in heavy 6-8 quart pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Combine remaining sugar and Thick Gel or E-Z Gel and stir into fruit mixture. Stir constantly until thick and bubbly. ((If necessary add additional E-Z Gel, or water if product is too thick)).
Pour into sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Adjust lids and process in water bath canner for 35 minutes.
Yield: about 7 pints.
Don’t cook this on high heat. Especially when doing this much fruit. You’ll end up with scorching on the bottom. This recipe works in half really nicely too.