The first batch of jam I made was sour cherry. Sour cherries aren't grown locally, and I was delighted when a friend casually mentioned that the local foodie mecca had some back in August. I promptly bought six pounds! So far I've only used about two pounds which, after thawing, pitting, and chopping, worked out to about a cup of fruit. (It also yielded about 32 ounces of sour cherry juice, which I brought to a potluck to mix with sparkling lemonade: YUM.) The main lesson from this jamming experience was that I should've chopped the fruit MUCH finer. As you can see above, it's lovely in the jars, but very chunky on top and then truly jam-like on the bottom layer. I only have a crappy apartment freezer so I'd really better get onto using the rest of those cherries - they're already starting to look a bit frosty, though I've got them double-wrapped in the freezer.
The second batch of jam I made was blueberry-peach. It's.. firm. Very firm. Almost fruit-leather-in-a-jar firm. I don't know why. Well.. I have some theories.
- Pectin Issues: When I made the sour cherry jam, it was a half-batch; the directions on the pectin said to use half the packet, 2 Tbsp. When I made the blueberry-peach jam, I didn't measure the leftover pectin - I just dumped it in. So, maybe I used too much pectin.
- Sugar Impact: I didn't use the full amount of sugar called for. I rather expected that it might then be more runny. Was that wrong?
- Type of fruit: I've learned that different fruits have different amounts of pectin, I guess, so maybe need less than others to achieve firmness. I.. really don't know for sure.
- Pureeing the fruit: I used my immersion blender to process the fruit so it wasn't chunky like the cherry jam. I don't know if or how that affected anything. Actually, that leads me to my fifth theory:
- Pure and Total Ignorance: I just don't know much about jamming, what works, what doesn't, what affects what, etc. So I clearly did something wrong but don't really know what!
I am hesitating because I don't have a lot of storage in my kitchen, so I am loathe to purchase a really big pot that can only be used for one thing. The less-expensive canning pots are very thin metal, and so I assume they aren't great for actually cooking or making things like soup (plus, I have an awesome soup pot already). I've found a much more-expensive and more-sturdy-seeming pot that works for canning, but I can't tell from the interwebs if I could also cook in it. Not that I'd NEED to cook in it, but I don't want a really big single-purpose item if I can help it. So, that's my hesitation. Well, that, and being back on a no-shopping month.