---------- Recipe via Meal-Master (tm) v8.02
  
       Title: Preparing Butters, Jams, Jellies, and Marmalades (1 of 2)
  Categories: Canning, Information
       Yield: 1 guide
  
  
   Sweet spreads are a class of foods with many textures, flavors, and
   colors. They all consist of fruits preserved mostly by means of sugar
   and they are thickened or jellied to some extent. Fruit jelly is a
   semi-solid mixture of fruit juice and sugar that is clear and firm
   enough to hold its shape. Other spreads are made from crushed or ground
   fruit.
   
   Jam also will hold its shape, but it is less firm than jelly. Jam is
   made from crushed or chopped fruits and sugar. Jams made from a mixture
   of fruits are usually called conserves, especially when they include
   citrus fruits, nuts, raisins, or coconut. Preserves are made of small,
   whole fruits or uniform-size pieces of fruits in a clear thick, slightly
   jellied syrup. Marmalades are soft fruit jellies with small pieces of
   fruit or citrus peel evenly suspended in a transparent jelly. Fruit
   butters are made from fruit pulp cooked with sugar until thickened to a
   spreadable consistency.
   
   INGREDIENTS
   
   For proper texture, jellied fruit products require the correct
   combination of fruit, pectin, acid, and sugar. The fruit gives each
   spread its unique flavor and color. It also supplies the water to
   dissolve the rest of the necessary ingredients and furnishes some or all
   of the pectin and acid. Good-quality, flavorful fruits make the best
   jellied products.
   
   Pectins are substances in fruits that form a gel if they are in the
   right combination with acid and sugar. All fruits contain some pectin.
   Apples, crab apples, gooseberries, and some plums and grapes usually
   contain enough natural pectin to form a gel. Other fruits, such as
   strawberries, cherries, and blueberries, contain little pectin and must
   be combined with other fruits high in pectin or with commercial pectin
   products to obtain gels. Because fully ripened fruit has less pectin,
   one-fourth of the fruit used in making jellies without added pectin
   should be underripe.
   
   Caution: Commercially frozen and canned juices may be low in natural
   pectins and make soft textured spreads.
   
   The proper level of acidity is critical to gel formation. If there is
   too little acid, the gel will never set; if there is too much acid, the
   gel will lose liquid (weep). For fruits low in acid, add lemon juice or
   other acid ingredients as directed. Commercial pectin products contain
   acids which help to ensure gelling.
   
   Sugar serves as a preserving agent, contributes flavor, and aids in
   gelling. Cane and beet sugar are the usual sources of sugar for jelly or
   jam. Corn syrup and honey may be used to replace part of the sugar in
   recipes, but too much will mask the fruit flavor and alter the gel
   structure. Use tested recipes for replacing sugar with honey and corn
   syrup. Do not try to reduce the amount of sugar in traditional recipes.
   Too little sugar prevents gelling and may allow yeasts and molds to
   grow.
   
   JAM AND JELLIES WITH REDUCED SUGAR
   
   Jellies and jams that contain modified pectin, gelatin, or gums may be
   made with noncaloric sweeteners. Jams with less sugar than usual also
   may be made with concentrated fruit pulp, which contains less liquid and
   less sugar.
   
   Two types of modified pectin are available for home use. One gels with
   one-third less sugar. The other is a low-methoxyl pectin which requires
   a source of calcium for gelling. To prevent spoilage, jars of these
   products must be processed longer in a boiling-water canner. Recipes and
   processing times provided with each modified pectin product must be
   followed carefully. The proportions of acids and fruits should not be
   altered, as spoilage may result.
   
   Acceptably gelled refrigerator fruit spreads also may be made with
   gelatin and sugar substitutes. Such products spoil at room temperature,
   must be refrigerated, and should be eaten within 1 month.
   
   PREVENTING SPOILAGE
   
   Even though sugar helps preserve jellies and jams, molds can grow on the
   surface of these products. Research now indicates that the mold which
   people usually scrape off the surface of jellies may not be as harmless
   as it seems. Mycotoxins have been found in some jars of jelly having
   surface mold growth. Mycotoxins are known to cause cancer in animals;
   their effects on humans are still being researched.
   
   Because of possible mold contamination, paraffin or wax seals are no
   longer recommended for any sweet spread, including jellies. To prevent
   growth of molds and loss of good flavor or color, fill products hot into
   sterile Mason jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace, seal with self-sealing
   lids, and process 5 minutes in a boiling-water canner Correct process
   time at higher elevations by adding 1 additional minute per 1,000 ft
   above sea level. If unsterile jars are used, the filled jars should be
   processed 10 minutes. Use of sterile jars is preferred, especially when
   fruits are low in pectin, since the added 5-minute process time may
   cause weak gels.
   
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   * USDA Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539 (rev. 1994)
   * Meal-Master format courtesy of Karen Mintzias
  
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