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I get excited when I make jam because it means pulling out my collection of mason jars and selecting thee right one for that particular jam. And once filling the jar it beams like a rich glowing beacon… a ray of sunshine that is sure to brighten any dismal day.
Made completely from 100% whole ingredients, using local fruit, picked at peak condition and turned into raw jam, this recipe is a gentle way to gather and preserve an essence of summer.
Raw jam doesn’t last as long as cooked jam but that would be the only drawback I can think of… You could freeze them which gives a longer “shelf life”. The other amazing benefit to raw jam, outside of retaining all the nutrients, is that it will taste much more like the fresh berries or fruit used, the color is more like the true color of the fruit, it takes little time to make, but you use less sugar since it isn’t needed as a preservative, just as a sweetener (sometimes getting away with no added sugar)….*stops for a breath*. That was one heck of a run on sentence. hehe
Not all fruits are high in natural pectin that is why many people mix various fruits together, giving aid to the weaker pectin ones. Pectin is actually a carbohydrate found mostly in the skin and core of raw fruit. In nature, it functions as the structural “cement” that helps hold cell walls together. Once blended into a liquid state, the pectin has the ability to form a mesh that traps liquid, sets as it cools, and, in the case of jam, cradles suspended pieces of fruit.
Apples, berries, peaches, apricots, cherries and grapes are very good sources of pectin (assuming you eat them with their skin). Even citrus fruits and bananas are a good source. If you jam isn’t as thick as you desire it to be, we raw-fooders have a trick up our sleeves called chai seeds! Flax seeds, psyllium, irish moss can be used as well but I tend to lean towards chai seeds myself. You can leave them whole, which in berry jams just mimic the aesthetics of berry seeds but you can also grind them to a flour before adding to the recipe to give it a smoother texture.
Adding additional sweetener is completely up to you. It will all depend on your sweet tooth and how ripe / sweet the fruit is that you are using. So make sure to taste test along the way. Lastly, before I let you go… thyme… this of course is optional but if you like thyme, I ask that you trust me on this one and give the recipe a try as is.
Some of you may be scratching your heads, “Why thyme?” It is a fragrant herb with a minty, warm and peppery flavor with a hint of cloves. Thyme extracts floral elements in fruits so I felt that it would be a good pairing. It even tastes good sprinkled on bananas. If you can’t find fresh thyme you can use dried but remember that dried herbs are much more concentrated than fresh.
A general rule of thumb is that 1 teaspoon of dried herbs equals 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs. Use fresh whenever possible. When using fresh pull the leaves from the sprig in the opposite direction they grow – there’s no need to chop. You can also use the sprigs whole if you wish but I minced mine to basically bruise them to release more of their oils and flavor into the jam.