Originally Posted by Oceanwatcher
I am sure this has been discussed before, but my first language is not Englsih and I am a little lost regarding what to search for.
Some weeks ago I made some strawberry jamThe taste is great, the color is great, but it is just a little too thin.
Here in Brazil, it is hard to find anything that you usually would use to thicken jam (pektin?), so I am looking for good tips to thicken it in a natural way. What are the tricks you use to make sure you get the right consistency of your jam?
I also made mango with cardamom and that turned out absolutely perfect. It could be that the strawberries were too ripe although there were many of them that were still a bit yellow/white.
Jams and jelies are pectin, acid and sugar gels.
Now, first question - where does the pectin come from? Answer - either from the fruit and a high pectin fruit would be oranges and a low pectin fruit,strawberries, acid from the fruit or added ingredients like lemon juice and sugar - well that`s simple.
The less ripe the fruit the higher it is in pectin and pectinic substances but you can add it via commercial pectin (Certo?) or apple juice or redcurrant juice. If using frozen fruit then you should add about 10-15% more than the recipe states as the pectin is weakened by freezing and this will affect the set.
Acid is inherent/natural to the fruit but the more ripe the fruit, the less will be the acid content of the fruit, as sugars develop as the fruit ripens. So you may need to add extra acid depending upon how ripe the fruit is. This may be done by adding lemon juice to the mixture.
Cook or soften or reduce the fruit before adding sugar. Place the strawberries plus the juice of a lemon or two (depends upon the weight of the strawberries) in the preserving pan over a low heat and allow to soften, breakdown before adding other ingredients. A low heat is important at this stage. Add warmed sugar, allow to dissolve before boiling.
Finally, how did you test whether your jam would set? A cold plate test would be best.
Potting - too many people pot too quickly which results in the fruit rising to the top. Allow the jam to cool for a good 30-45 minutes before potting. Stir very, very gently to see where the fruit lies. If all the fruit lies at the top of the pan then it needs to be left for a little while longer. The fruit should be suspended through the mix prior to potting. Place in sterilised jars, seal and label.
Hope this helps,