23 January 2013
I gave up on the idea until last year when Ball released the FreshTECH automatic jam maker. I received one for Christmas, and I could barely wait to open it. My enthusiasm for my new toy had been somewhat dampened by reviews of the FreshTECH complaining that it was a bit on the simplistic side. I agree that many of the recipes are quite plain and loaded with pectin, but who lets a little thing like "directions" get in the way for jammy goodness.
My first foray into jelly making began with a bottle of Muscadine Cider I brought home from South Carolina. I wasn't really interested in drinking it, but I was convinced it would make a great jelly. I followed the recipe for jelly to a tee, using a full measure of sugar and pectin.
It turned out fine. I was worried that it might end up leaning toward fruit leather, but it didn't. Next I tried a pomegranate jelly, this time using the low sugar method as the pomegranate juice was a bit on the sweet side to begin with. The lower sugar jelled fine.
Then, I threw out the book. I wanted to use the machine to make marmalade, a recipe no where to be found in the cookbook. I am a firm believer that marmalade should at its best should ward off the most virulent scurvy. I want marmalade that with all its pithy fight. I did not want to add a bunch of pectin. So I sliced my peel, juiced my cara cara oranges and added my sugar. I left the mixture to cure in the refrigerator overnight.
I dumped the mixture into the FreshTECH and set it for jam. When it was done, I unplugged the machine and let the marmalade sit until the machine cooled off. (The instructions are very clear that one must let the machine cool for at least 30 minutes before starting another pot.) After an hour, I went back to the marmalade and rested the machine, cooking the marmalade a second time. After two cookings, the marmalade was a perfect texture.
This was a great gift. As the years goes on, I will be experimenting more and more and will let you know how it goes. In the meantime...