Cooked Jam with Thick Gel

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 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

2/3 c. Thick Gel (1-1 1/2 c E-Z Gel)

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.

7 thoughts on “Cooked Jam with Thick Gel

  1. I’m trying to find the recipe for freezer raspberry jam. It won’t come up. I do have the thickener.

    1. The E-Z Gel raspberry freezer jam recipe is on the back of the bag, but I’ll copy it here too!

      Raspberry Freezer Jam
      4 cups raspberries, crushed
      1 cup applesauce (helps to make the end product a little less seedy)
      1/4 cup lemon juice
      2 cups sugar (to taste)
      1/2 cup E-Z Gel

      Combine raspberries, applesauce, lemon juice, and sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Gradually add E-Z Gel, whisking constantly. Let stand for 5-6 minutes to read full thickness. If a thicker consistency is desired, add additional E-Z Gel, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring well with each addition. Package, seal, label and freeze for 6-12 months. Recipe doubles easily.

  2. Should I expect this to come out as more of a spread consistency rather than a set jam? And is there an even exchange when a recipe calls for a box of pectin?

    1. Yes. When you use a starch instead of a pectin you’re going to get a smoother, slightly less set consistency in the final product. If you want it thicker or firmer you can add additional EZ Gel, but there is a point where too much starch starts to make your jam gummy instead of set, so at that point you’d have to have some pectin and some starch to get more of a set. There is an exchange….but I’ve forgot what it is! Let me contact our food scientist who will have it at her fingertips and I’ll create another reply for you with that information.

    1. 10 cups grape juice
      5 cups sugar
      1 package pectin
      1/4 cup Thick Gel

      Mix sugar, pectin and Thick Gel. Combine with juice and bring to a boil on the stove. Boil for 3 minutes.

      Fill jars, lid and process for correct altitude.

      We use pectin in the jelly recipe because you usually want a firmer set for that than you do for jams. Starch thickened jams and jellies are softer set by the nature of the starch. You can remove the pectin and increase the Thick Gel by 2-3 Tablespoons if you want to keep the softer set of a jam, but not have any fruit bits in it for a jelly. 🙂

      Cooked Apricot/Peach or Blackberry Jam

      12 c. ground or chopped apricots or peaches
      4 1/2 c. sugar
      2/3 c. Thick Gel
      1 pkg. lemonade flavored drink mix (opt.)
      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 and stir into fruit mixture. Stir constantly until thick and bubbly. Add lemonade drink mix. Pour into sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Adjust lids and process in water bath canner for 35 minutes.
      Yield: about 7 pints.

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