Summer Jams with Pomona’s Universal Pectin and Reusable, BPA-Free Tattler Canning Lids

September 20, 2012 · 19 comments

My mother in law is a certified Master Food Preserver (kinda like a Master Gardener) and an active volunteer at our local food bank. A couple years back, she combined her passion for food preservation with her desire to better serve individuals and families who couldn’t always afford good healthy food by starting a program called Jamming for the Hungry. She recruited friends, members of her church, and community minded folks to volunteer one night a week making lots and lots of jam and jelly from donated and gleaned fruits. The preserves were distributed through several food banks. You can read a little more about the program in this Oregonian article. Needless to say after processing several thousand jars of jam, my mother in law pretty much knows everything you’d ever want to know and more about fruit preserves.

I’ve made jam before. Quite a few times, actually, but I certainly don’t consider myself an expert. In years past, I’ve done pectin experiments, trying to see just how far I could cut back on the sugar without ending up with syrup instead of jam. I’ve tried doubling recipes. I’ve had failures, and I’ve been disappointed.

When I was picking up the kids one afternoon at my mother in law’s house last week, I mentioned my pectin troubles, and she introduced me to Pomona’s Universal Pectin, a product which I am now head over heels in love with. Though I’d never heard of it before, I’ve learned that Pomona’s Pectin is specially formulated to set up jams and jellies without an excessive amount of sugar. It also works with artificial sweeteners (not something I’d advocate for, but some of them are diabetic-friendly) and honey. In fact, every Pomona’s recipe has honey recommendations right alongside the sugar quantities, and there are also easy guidelines for formulating your own recipes or making big batches in one go. The stuff is kind of miraculous.

One box of Pomona’s is going to be more expensive than a box of the regular stuff, but a box of Pomona’s goes a lot farther (2-4 batches). The one other minor complication is that most recipes require a bit of added calcium water (which comes with the pectin in the box). That may seem like it might be troublesome, but in reality, it isn’t. I was able to pick up some Pomona’s at my local health food store, but you can also order it online.

I made two double batches of jam last week, one with green gage plums + honey and the other with roughly equal parts blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries + honey. The green gage plums came from one of my parents’ neighbors, and the berries were all from Gathering Together Farm, though I picked them myself (one of the perks of working there).

The green gage plum jam was strange and wonderful. The yellow-green fleshed fruit yielded an almost marmalade-like preserve with a hint of peach. (Maybe I’m imagining this?) I was so gung-ho about not adding too much sweetener that the result is distinctly not very sweet, and if I were to do it again, I might add a little bit more honey.

The berry jam was quite possibly the best jam I’ve ever eaten, which is saying a lot because I’ve had close to a billion peanut butter and (homemade) jam sandwiches in my life. It’s densely fruity with only a hint of honey. I pretty much just want to eat it by the spoonful straight out of the jar. I had good intentions of giving a couple jars away to friends, but I may reconsider and horde it all here at home for the fresh-berryless winter months.

I topped off the jars with another new addition to my food-preservation bag of tricks, Tattler reusable, BPA-free canning lids. I’ve been pretty serious about reducing my family’s exposure to chemicals and hormones, especially BPA and those nasty phthalates, so making this switch was kind of a no brainer. I started hearing about these reusable lids a couple years ago, but I finally got my act together and ordered a bunch from Lehman’s this summer. (You might be able to find them cheaper somewhere else or you can order them directly from Tattler) These lids are definitely more expensive than standard single-use canning lids, but you can reuse them indefinitely, and even if they never pay off financially, I’m okay with the extra expense if it means I’m not getting BPA in my home-canned goods. So far, I’ve used them on canned tomatoes, applesauce, and jam, and they’ve worked perfectly. The only two potential drawbacks I can see so far are A) I don’t get the satisfaction of that lid-popping noise to tell me my jars are sealed and B) I used to write with a Sharpie directly on the lid, labeling the date and contents, but now I’ll have to figure out some other (cute?) labeling system, so that I don’t mark up my reusable lids.

Green Gage Plum Jam with Pomona’s Universal Pectin and Honey

recipe adapted from the Pomona’s Universal Pectin instructions              yeild: about 9 cups 

8 cups pitted, mashed plums
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cups of honey
6 teaspoons of Pomona’s Universal Pectin powder
8 teaspoons of calcium water (The calcium powder comes in the Pomona’s box, and you just mix it with clean water.) 
 

Sterilize canning jars and simmer the lids in hot water.

Measure out the fruit, lemon juice, and calcium water and add it to a medium-large pot. Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.

While the fruit is heating up, stir the pectin powder into the cold or room temperature honey.

When the fruit begins to boil, add the honey and pectin and stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes until it starts to boil again. Remove the pot from heat.

Fill jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe the rims clean and screw down lids until “finger tight”.

Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks, or process the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. (Start timing when water with jars in it begins to boil.)

Triple Berry Jam with Pomona’s Universal Pectin and Honey

recipe adapted from the Pomona’s Universal Pectin instructions              yeild: about 9 cups 

 8 cups of mixed blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries, mashed
1 tablespoon of lemon juice for every cup of blackberries
1 3/4 cups of honey
4 teaspoons of Pomona’s Universal Pectin powder
4 teaspoons of calcium water (The calcium powder comes in the Pomona’s box, and you just mix it with clean water.) 
 

Sterilize canning jars and simmer the lids in hot water.

Measure out the fruit, lemon juice, and calcium water and add it to a medium-large pot. Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.

While the fruit is heating up, stir the pectin powder into the cold or room temperature honey.

When the fruit begins to boil, add the honey and pectin and stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes until it starts to boil again. Remove the pot from heat.

Fill jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe the rims clean and screw down lids until “finger tight”.

Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks, or process the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. (Start timing when water with jars in it begins to boil.)

Note: It may take several hours for the jam to set up, so don’t worry if it appears runny at first.

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