We continue with Seed to Pantry Canning Month with a common problem. No matter how much jam we make, sooner or later we will all end up with a batch that is either overcooked (and ends up a sticky, gooey mess) or undercooked (great for syrup over pancakes, not so great on toast). Luckily both extremes can usually be remedied.
Undercooked Jam: There are a variety of reasons why old fashioned jams and preserves might not set. Since we don’t add pectin, the fruit acidity is very important. Some fruits are just not acid enough to ever set without pectin added (melons for example). But sometimes the fruit is just too ripe so the acid level is a little low. Sometimes the jam wasn’t cooked long enough to set. Cooking time fluctuates with the weather, so even if your raspberry jam last week cooked in 30 minutes, this week it may take 40 minutes or even 20 minutes. So here’s what to do:
- Spoon all the undercooked jam into a large saucepot.
- Add about 1 tsp lemon juice for each cup of jam.
- Bring to a boil and cook until jam sets.
- Remove from heat and pour into clean jars.
- Seal and process in a water bath canner for 10 – 15 minutes.
Overcooked Jam: It’s is harder to salvage overcooked jam. If the jam tastes scorched it’s best just to throw it away and try again. If the jam isn’t scorched but is too thick to use as jam, slowly heat it in the microwave with a little added water and use it as syrup. I also have used overcooked jam in place of honey in homemade BBQ sauce, stir-fry sauce, or in the center of muffins. You could also melt overcooked jam in the microwave and brush it over pound cake or bar cookies.