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Old 11-17-2013, 07:29 PM   #1
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Jam Making

Not sure if I'm in the right place for this but there doesn't seem to be anywhere else.

I've just been watching a Food Network UK programme called "Pioneer Woman" with a deeply irritating woman who wouldn't know a pioneer if it got up and bit her. However, that isn't my point.

She was making strawberry jam with a group of children as part of their home schooling syllabus. She made the jam in the same way as we do here but when she got to potting it up she diverted from what we do.

She sterilised her jars in boiling water - so far so good but instead of putting them in the oven to dry (which further sterilises them) she potted the jam directly into wet jars, put on the seals and then proceeded to can the jam.

She explained that if she potted the jam and sealed it and just put it on the shelf without canning it, the jam would go mouldy. Well, yes, of course it would - because she used wet jars. A no-brainer to us jam makers over here.

I've come across mention of canning jam before on another American cookery forum and it puzzles me. When we make jam we pot into dry sterilised jars and seal while the jam is still scaldingly hot and in all my years of jam making (my grandmother taught me when I was seven years old) I have never had a sealed jar go mouldy. The heat of the contents ensures a good seal and I've opened jars of jam more than a year after making and they've been perfect. I can't ever remember pots of jam made by my mother or either grandmothers going off in the sealed jars. We use the method endorsed by the Women's Institute, who are the jam experts over here. They have even advised the professionals and the government on issues surrounding jam making and other forms of food preservation.

OK, so is it a climate issue in the USA? I know you generally speaking have hotter summers than we do and some areas must be more humid even than we are.

Is it a case of "We do it because someone who was trying to sell canning equipment told our great-great-grandmothers to do it"? Or is there another reason that has escaped me?

One point that I missed, because they were measuring the sugar in cups and didn't say anything about the ratio of fruit to sugar, which is important for properly preserving the jam the way we make it. Is the canning process used because the sugar:fruit ratio is different? Usually, we use a pound of sugar to a pound of fruit for jams. I could understand the canning thing if a smaller amount of sugar is used in American recipes.

I can see the point of canning (or bottling as we call it) fruit to eat later as a dessert, for example, but not for canning already sterile jam.

And just out of interest, do you can jam in Canada or Australia as well?
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Old 11-17-2013, 07:54 PM   #2
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I'm no expert in canning, but I've never dried the jars in the oven. Usually after pulling out the jars from the boiling water, it dries itself pretty quickly. I add the boiling jam to the hot jars, add the lid and then process in boiling water.
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Old 11-17-2013, 08:02 PM   #3
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I am curious about your Pioneer Woman. Was she British or American? I didn't know you had pioneers in England.
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Old 11-17-2013, 08:11 PM   #4
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She is a blogger turned food network star, she lives on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma.

She's a much better blogger than TV personality, she comes off as annoying and insincere on the show, but her blog is really quite entertaining, she's a pretty good writer.

Now she's not rouging it like a pioneer, her husband runs a very successful ranch. The kitchen where she films is in her "lodge" which is a guest house and place where the whole clan gets together. The kitchen has at least 3 ovens. Her pantry has library ladders and a commercial sink. I have counted at least 4 Kitchenaid mixers hanging out in the pantry and a couple out in the kitchen! She cooks for a lot of people on a regular basis.

I really want that kitchen!
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Old 11-17-2013, 08:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
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I am curious about your Pioneer Woman. Was she British or American? I didn't know you had pioneers in England.
Well, we did, what about all those women, like Mrs Livingstone, who followed their husbands to unexplored Africa and other places and I bet a fair number of the women pioneers in the covered wagons crossing the prairie started out as British.

But no, she's American, called Ree Drummond, described as "one sassy former city girl" (from LA I think) with an acquired accent, a fixed smile that doesn't reach the eyes and she comes out with phrases like "Howdy, Pardner" (I thought that died out with Gabby Hayes) and lives on a ranch somewhere in Oklahoma with a "hunky husband" and a collection of children who didn't look happy about being dragged in front of the film cameras.

The series we've got comes from the US Food Network channel.
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Old 11-17-2013, 09:00 PM   #6
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She is a blogger turned food network star, she lives on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma.

She's a much better blogger than TV personality, she comes off as annoying and insincere on the show, but her blog is really quite entertaining, she's a pretty good writer.

Now she's not rouging it like a pioneer, her husband runs a very successful ranch. The kitchen where she films is in her "lodge" which is a guest house and place where the whole clan gets together. The kitchen has at least 3 ovens. Her pantry has library ladders and a commercial sink. I have counted at least 4 Kitchenaid mixers hanging out in the pantry and a couple out in the kitchen! She cooks for a lot of people on a regular basis.

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Old 11-17-2013, 09:07 PM   #7
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I'm no expert in canning, but I've never dried the jars in the oven. Usually after pulling out the jars from the boiling water, it dries itself pretty quickly. I add the boiling jam to the hot jars, add the lid and then process in boiling water.
Probably if you are going to use the water bath after you've potted it doesn't matter about using dry jars but we are taught that wet jars for jam=mould development. Don't ask me why I'm just prepared to take the WI's and the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book's word for it.
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Old 11-17-2013, 09:52 PM   #8
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Probably if you are going to use the water bath after you've potted it doesn't matter about using dry jars but we are taught that wet jars for jam=mould development. Don't ask me why I'm just prepared to take the WI's and the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book's word for it.
Most canning standards here call for the boiling water processing. I've done it without this process, but I like the boiling water process to insure safety, overkill maybe, but I feel better about it!
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Old 11-18-2013, 11:43 AM   #9
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Ree Drummond started with an itty bitty blog that became quite popular. I think PW is a full time job for her now, and not sure how much fun that is. I guess it keeps you from getting bored back at the ranch.

I take the jars out of hot boiling water with a tong, fill. cover/ seal and do boiling water bath to make sure they properly seal. No, I don't dry them in the oven. I have seen some recipes say to run the jars through the dishwasher and that will dry them and then you take them out while they are still hot and fill with jam. I think drying them in the oven would be a useful step. I'd still do a boiling water bath. I make transitions slowly.
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Old 11-18-2013, 12:10 PM   #10
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There's an article about her in yesterday's Parade magazine. It says she started the blog as a way to keep in touch with her mother after she got married. Her husband and his family have the 17th largest land holdings in the country. She's not my favorite, but it's interesting.
http://www.parade.com/226902/sarahdi...-thanksgiving/

If the jars are sterilized, I don't see how putting them in the oven further sterilizes them. I do water-bath canning, too.
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Old 11-18-2013, 04:23 PM   #11
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Never heard of putting jam into a wet jar. Makes no sense to me what's so ever. It is definitely way to have a disaster on your hands. For my jams I ran the jars in the dishwasher take them out when they are dry, pure hot jam in and do not close until jams cools down so not to have evaporation inside the jar. I do use canning jars, but it is more out of convenience than anything else. My mother uses whatever jars she saves and she most of the times doesn't even covers them with leads. She uses some parchment paper and a robber band to hold it. I have had jams seating for 5 years never go bad, never had any mold, never crystallized.
I wonder if it was just show and they skip the drying step.
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Old 11-18-2013, 04:39 PM   #12
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Just like there is more than one way to skin that proverbial cat, there is also more than one way to sterilize. I don't boil jars at all. I put them right in the oven at 250 and leave them for 20 minutes.

I do boil the rings and lids, although simmer is probably a more apt term.

And yes, I put most everything in a water bath to ensure a good seal and kill any remaining nasties that might be lurking about.

Not that most of that is even necessary. Believe it or not, sugar is a fantastic preservative. Mold will grow on the surface of jam, but not in the jam itself. Back in the days of old, the only thing keeping the jam from exposure to air was a layer of paraffin. Canning as we know it is a relatively recent invention.
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Old 11-18-2013, 05:52 PM   #13
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I run the jars through the dishwasher, simmer the lids and rings, and can in either a steam canner or a boiling water bath. Nary a problem.

I remember my grandma and my great aunt making jams and jellies with the paraffin and open kettle method. And nobody died
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:24 AM   #14
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I used to use the paraffin method to preserve jam but I think I just put a lid and ring on at the end to prevent dust getting into the jars. Really can't remember now since it has been so long. These days I do the water bath.
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:40 AM   #15
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From a food science standpoint, anytime you can a product, sterilization is dependant upon the available organisms that promote spoilage. Killing those organisms is a function of temperature AND time. The higher the temp the shorter the time. There is a minimum temp where you would never kill even the most temp sensitive organism. Drying the jar will remove a very small contribution of organisms but it does remove water which the little bugs like. Most jams and jellies get very hot during the cooking process. If you put the jam in a warm jar and invert to make sure the lid sees the hot temp of the jam you should be fine 99% of the time. To go that extra step you can water bath to make 100% sure the littel critters are done in.
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:54 AM   #16
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Not wishing to date myself, we used to melt parafin wax to seal jelly/jams. Sometimes there was a bit of jel that would ooze up around the edges of the wax. Obviously not a hard enough seal. Thicker wax did not compute with a better seal. Don't recall if there ever as any mold, probably would have tossed the jar if noticed. Toast and Jam. I am still alive to write this.
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Old 11-19-2013, 08:01 AM   #17
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We boiled the jars and filled them with the hot jam and added a thin layer of hot paraffin. No lids, bands or processing. If a jar or two weeped we added a second thin layer of paraffin before storing the jam.

My Grandmother used to wash the paraffin discs and save them. The next year she would melt them with a fresh bar of wax and reuse them.

The traditional jelly jars were just like drinking glasses and only used paraffin.

I noticed last year that the New York State Fair will no longer accept jars of jam sealed with paraffin for jam and jelly contests. All submissions must be sealed with lids and bands. Progress?
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Old 11-19-2013, 08:14 AM   #18
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I use any appropriate saved jam jars, wash in hot water and dry in a hot oven, fill and cool without lids then paraffin wax them about 1/4" deep. Never had a problem myself. Some of my French jam maker friends fill with hot jam, lid them immediately and then invert the jar for a few minutes which creates its own seal. I haven't tried this but it's quite a popular method here.
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Old 11-19-2013, 08:56 PM   #19
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Most canning standards here call for the boiling water processing. I've done it without this process, but I like the boiling water process to insure safety, overkill maybe, but I feel better about it!
The point I'm making is that processing the finished jam by canning it isn't deemed necessary over here and I was wondering why it was done in the States.

I wondered if it was anything to do with the climate as you have hotter summers than we do.

Perhaps it's a pressure thing as I know some of you live a what we would consider extreme heights - the highest house in Britain is at 1,519 feet above sea level which is peanuts compared with where PF lives, IIRC. Our highest mountain, Ben Nevis in Scotland is a mere 4,409 feet which is a pimple compared with mountains in the Americas.
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Old 11-19-2013, 09:00 PM   #20
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There's an article about her in yesterday's Parade magazine. It says she started the blog as a way to keep in touch with her mother after she got married. Her husband and his family have the 17th largest land holdings in the country. She's not my favorite, but it's interesting.
Home on the Range: Thanksgiving with Ree Drummond

If the jars are sterilized, I don't see how putting them in the oven further sterilizes them. I do water-bath canning, too.
Well I suppose it just gilds the lily. If you put them wet into the oven they will be heated enough to boil off the water clinging to the jars and makes sure. The point is that it dries them which we are told is essential because of the mould issue.
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