The plated dessert section of the pastry program is over, and my last two days of class were spent making jam — apricot-almond and strawberry, to be specific.
Jellies, jams and preserves... so what's the difference, you ask? Jellies are made from fruit juice, jams from crushed fruit plus fruit juice, and preserves are made from whole fruit plus fruit juice. There are only a few key items that are required to make a successful jelly, jam, or preserve — good fruit, sugar, acid, pectin and sterile equipment. I don't want to bore you with all the details, so you can read more about it here: http://britishfood.about.com/od/glossary/tp/10-Tips-for-Jam-MAking.htm
School policy doesn't allow me to share the exact recipes that were made in class (intellectual property and all), but David Lebovitz, whom I love, has a fantastic (and simple) recipe for apricot jam.
Next week is our first quarter exams (dread...dread...dread...), which will cover everything I've learned these past six weeks — plated desserts, ice creams and sorbets, sugar confections, and jellies, jams and preserves.
Then it's on to chocolate candies...muahaha.
Adapted from David Lebovitz
- 2 pounds (1 kg) fresh apricots
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) water
- 6 cups (1 kg) sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon kirsch (optional)
Cut the apricots in half and extract the pits. If you wish, crack a few open and put a kernel in each jam jar you plan to fill.
Place the apricots in a very large stockpot, and add the water. Cover the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until the apricots are tender and cooked through.
Put a small plate in the freezer.
Add the sugar to the apricots and cook, uncovered, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. As the mixture thickens and reduces, stir frequently to make sure the jam isn't burning on the bottom.
When the jam looks thick and is looks slightly-jelled, turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on the chilled plate. Put back in the freezer for a few minutes, then do the nudge test: If the jam mounds and wrinkles, it's done. If not, continue to cook, then re-test the jam until it reaches that consistency.
(You can use a candy thermometer if you wish. The finished jam will be about 220ºF, 104ºC.)
Once done, stir in the lemon juice and kirsch, if using, and ladle the jam into clean jars. Cover tightly and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, refrigerate until ready to use.
Storage: I find this jam will keep up to one year if refrigerated. If you wish to can it for long-term preservation, you can refer to the USDA Canning Guidelines for techniques.