“Jam? Hell, I can do that!”

It started innocently enough … I was flipping through my issue of Cooking Light magazine, reading a nice little feature on the awesomeness of pomegranates, when I see a recipe for a fresh pomegranate-pear jam. Sounds tasty, right? Looked easy at first glance, too, until I realized it called for the cook to physically extract the juice and seeds from the pomegranates.

Now, I don’t like lazy cooks any more than you do. But really? Unless you have a juicer or a strong-armed pirate hanging around, it’s not likely that you can pull something like this off in less than a couple of hours. And the recipe yields 2 cups of jam? OK, some modifications clearly needed to be made.

Jam lesson #1:

Measure. No, really.

But what the hell do I know about making jam, much less converting the recipe of someone clearly more qualified? Is jam making like cooking, an art, that can be altered according to the mood of the cook? Or is it like baking, which is basically chemistry that eventually is tasty? Well… there’s only one way to find out.

The recipe calls for pomegranate juice, seeds, rose wine, pears, sugar, and pectin. Fresh rosemary is tossed in at the end.  I mushed up the cooked pears and added the juices and perhaps a little too much wine. I left out the pomegranate seeds since I don’t particularly care for them (and why make something you won’t eat yourself), and I think that might have contributed to the gelling failure. I added the sugar and, since I probably tipped a little extra wine into the pot, the measurements were off and the jam barely set.

It was strange; I sealed a few jars of this non-setting jam, and the half-cup or so that I simply refrigerated gelled perfectly. I also later attempted another batch where I kept the seeds in, measured the fruit to the sugar exactly (using the charts in the packet of Certo pectin), and it was perfect, although much sweeter than the previous batch.

Jam lesson #2:

Who says it has to stay jam?

The best lesson I learned from the pom-pear failure was that it wasn’t a failure at all. I had attempted making it into jelly donuts and jellied candies, but they weren’t sweet enough. I glazed pears with it in a pie crust, and it was total liquid. (*Disclaimer: I can’t bake. This failure could totally be a failure of me to bake properly instead of a failure of the failed jam. Wait.)

I wasn’t until weeks later when my friend, who had asked me for a jar of the failed jam, informed me that she had used it for a glaze on some chicken breasts. I did the same thing, also glazing some carrots, and they were divine.

Strongly considering making a batch of jam that doesn’t set and labeling it “chicken glaze” instead.

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5 thoughts on ““Jam? Hell, I can do that!”

  1. You are on to something there!

    I make Kumquat-Jalapeno marmalade and, in fact, direct my friends, the few lucky ones I give it to, to mix half-n-half with butter and/or EVOO and glaze grilled meats or seafood-shrimp, in particular. Just wonderful. I recently made a lime jalapeno marmalade after being seduced while reading about it on a blog— and in fact used the London Sunday Telegraph method I saw online, too, as an experiment in technique. But I was disappointed in the taste. Bummer… However, I began to think glaze (!) and did the butter-EVOO trick, finally settling on equal part of both (2:1:1). Still not quite there yet tho. And then a flash of brilliance: Tequila and salt. Hot damn a Margarita glaze. Stupendous on charcoal-grilled shrimp, scallops and baby-back ribs. And lastly, to reiterate my point: 1/3 c runny orange marmalade + equal parts butter and fresh OJ (1:1:1) + dash salt + 4 oz. Grand Mariner + 12 crepes + flambe = quick and easy Crepes Suzette. Marvelous! I even thinking about making a kit for some hopelessly romantic foodies I know for Valentine’s Day it’s so yummy.

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      • I was out looking today in 92117 and the best I could find was $4.99 for a 2 pack of liquid pectin or $5.50 for a single sure-jell powder pack. Where do you find it cheaper, especially the powder?!?

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      • I only use the liquid kind, but $4.99 is pretty standard … trust me, compared to actually making your own pectin, $4.99 for enough for two batches of jam (so like 16 cups for most recipes) is a pretty good price.

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