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How to Make Homemade Old-Fashioned Preserves

How to Make Homemade Old-Fashioned Preserves

New post from my kitchen pantry on how to make homemade old-fashioned preserves like an Italian nonna.

But keeping in mind today’s needs!

If you’re in the mood for jams and marmalades, even cooked-and-eaten, but  a genuine, old-style taste, you might need a post with Grandma’s advice.

How to Make Homemade Old-Fashioned Preserves

What I’ve learnt.

There was a time when at home many things were done in self-production: passata di pomodoro, pickles, jams and marmalades, fruit in syrup, syrups, juices and liqueurs.

When I was a child, I used to watch Grandma and the housewives helping with the preparations.
Because of this, and because I never forgot the flavors and magic of the house cellar where every good thing of God was neatly placed, I thought of this post.

I know that the idea of long preparation extinguishes ambition and good intentions.
But if you are patient enough to read all the blogpost, I can’t say that a jar of jam will magically pop out of your apron pocket but maybe, I have written MAYBE, it will light up the spark to find the right motivation to make your homemade jams.

I don’t know about you, I have a craving for more honest flavors. And to recover the gestures linked to the recipes of the past.

Buona cucina, Monica

How to Make Homemade Old-Fashioned Preserves

Making jams at home, like we used to.

But, like I wrote, keeping in mind today’s needs.
Once, in Italy, families were more numerous. Today, when you have prepared 4-5 jars of jam with your favourite fruit, that’s enough.

If you choose to make “express” jams, you won’t have to worry about vacuum.
Today they are populars but it was something grandmas used to do. 

With regard to traditional jams, those that last longer thanks to the procedure to create the vacuum, I gathered my experience in 10 points. I hope it will be useful, if you are a “black belt” of jams&co, use the questions to make a test and give you a grade from 1 to 10 (one point per question).

I can’t help but point out that there are small robots on the market for the preparation of soups and jams. They are small, don’t occupy much space and are perfect for the production of a few jars.

How to Make Homemade Old-Fashioned Preserves

Express jam: what it is and how to make it.

I always keep some spare jars of jam and marmalade in the pantry but, the same, I often prepare express jam. Especially to use fruit that is too ripe to be served.

Due to the simple fact of being cooked, fruit does not produce botulinum.
So you don’t have to vacuum cook it simply by cooking it. Once cooked and cooled, you can use it immediately or store it in the fridge in a covered container. If it is little in a cup, otherwise in a glass jar or an airtight container. Express jam can be stored, without the need for vacuum, for several days. What if it goes bad? You can tell by the mould.

The preparation is very simple and fast. For every 100g of fruit add 2-3 tablespoons of sugar and the juice of almost half a lemon (which keeps the colours bright and helps gelling). You can use the fruit you prefer and flavour as you like with lemon, cinnamon or vanilla. Cook the jam for about 20 minutes on a medium-low heat and let it cool completely before using or eating it on bread. If it has produced a lot of liquid, remove the fruit with a skimmer and reduce again the syrup that you can add to the cooked fruit or use as a sauce or to make a dessert.

Before the Guide in 10 points, I would just like to wish you all: buona cucina.

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How to make homemade preserves

10 point guide to make jams and marmalades at home.

1. What is the difference between jam and jam?

Marmalade is a preparation made with sugar and citrus fruits, juice, pulp and rind.

But even jams are made with lemon! True. But it isn’t the lemon juice that turns a jam into a marmalade, just as a swallow does not make spring. We all add in lemon juice because it naturally contains pectin, as well as keeping the colours of the fruit bright.

Jams are therefore preparations based on sugar and fruit pulp (not citrus fruit). Unlike jams, compotes have a much (higher) percentage of fruit than sugar. In contrast to jellies which are mainly sugar and fruit juice.

CHUTNEY is made with fruit and/or vegetables, sugar and always wants onion. It is prepared as if it were a jam and accompanies savoury dishes.

On the blog there are two chutney recipes:

Celery and Mustard Seeds Chutney Recipe

Pink Grapefruit And Kiwi Chutney. Bittersweet Recipe

2. What is the right time to make jams?

Wait until the fruit you want to use is well ripe. The ideal time is at the end of the season. The first harvest of the season is expensive and not very sweet. At the end of the season the fruit is sweeter and naturally sugary (especially summer fruit), as well as less expensive.

My Tip
I always taste the fruit I am about to use and, as a general rule, I put about 100-200g of sugar per 1 kg of fruit. If the fruit is not very sweet I arrive without problems at 300g of sugar per kg.

3. Should I use pectin to thicken jam?

No, not necessarily. You can use what is naturally found in apples or lemons. Then let’s be clear, pectin powder packs are not the devil. But if you prefer, use pectin! At least the first few times. Alternatively you can use agar agar, you add a small amount in the last minutes of boiling.

But what is pectin? It is a soluble fibre that is found or obtained from fruit and helps jams to become denser. Sugar also helps. But you too understand that gelling with sugar transforms jams into tasteless calorie bombs. Lemon is also rich in pectin (I’ll talk about it in the next point).

My Tip
I do not use pectin but sometimes I have used agar agar. Usually in my jams there are both lemon juice and sugar. I prefer a less sweet but less dense jam. But in general, I get the gelling by adding a couple of small apples, rich in pectin, which I mix with the fruit of the jam.

4. Lemon juice, yes or no?

Some people don’t like the harshness that lemon gives to the taste of jam. Using a lot of juice to make the jam thicker can compromise the final taste.
To help gelling I prefer apples (see point 3).

But the question “lemon: yes or no?”: I will certainly answer yes.
It has a natural preservative function, it helps the fruit to maintain a lively colour, it dampens the excessive sweetness of some fruits. The less acidic the fruit, the more it makes sense to add lemon juice.

As a general rule I use the juice of 1 small lemon per 500 g of fruit.

How to Make Homemade Old-Fashioned Preserves

5. Is it possible to use any fruit?

Yes and no.
Choose the fruit you want but organic.

6. Is there an object I need to have to make homemade jams?

There is a small precious object like no other.
Indispensable so as not to dirty and burn hands and wrists while filling the jars.
It is a small jar funnel specifically for jams, they come in various sizes and cost very little.

How to make homemade preserves

7. Sterilizing and vacuuming are the same operation?

No. These operations are done in two different phases.
Before using the jars, they must be sterilised to eliminate the risk of contamination by bacteria. To do this you can put them in the dishwasher, or boil them in water for 30 minutes, or put them in the oven at 130C degrees (always for 30 minutes), then you can put them in the microwave slightly moist for 40 seconds.

After filling the jars, you must proceed with the vacuum.
Use the same direction to make homemade and in season fruit juice.

Homemade Jam

8. How to make the vacuum? First method.

The best hermetic seal is obtained by closing the jars with screw top or with the glass stopper and rubber gasket. To have a correct formation of the vacuum, use clean (even if recycled) jars and always new stoppers.

To make the vacuum, pour the still boiling jam into clean jars. Without filling the jar completely: always leave 1.5cm from the edge, then seal with the stopper and turn the jar upside down. Leave the jars turned until the jam is completely cooled. The slightly concave cap in the centre is a clear sign that the vacuum has been correctly filled.

9. How to make the vacuum? Second method.

Let the jam cool in the pan. Then pour into clean and sterilised jars, again, without filling them but always leaving 1.5/2 cm from the edge of the jar. Close hermetically with clean stoppers.

Put the pots in a pan full of hot water, between one pot and another put some dish towels to prevent them from breaking during cooking. The water must exceed the pots by at least 4 cm (if necessary, while boiling, add water). Cover with a lid, bring to the boil and cook for 15-20 minutes (125ml jars, small ones). Boil a medium-sized jar for 30 minutes and the large ones for 40-60 minutes.

Leave the jars in water until it has cooled completely.

Last tips.

I prefer small jars. The boiling is faster and then I avoid that huge jars stay in the fridge for months. Small jars also lend themselves better as gifts.

Jars that have been vacuum-packed correctly can be stored for up to 12 months in the pantry. Be careful when opening the cap: check for mould that may form as a result of incorrect closure.

10. Can I make jam without vacuum-packing?

Yes. It’s the express jam! See above.

On the blog you can find all my family recipes for making jams and marmalades.


Italian Jam Recipes

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