Embark on a culinary journey with our delightful Christmas Jam, a fusion of vibrant strawberries, tangy cranberries, aromatic orange zest, and a blend of warm spices. This homemade jam captures the essence of the holiday season in a jar, offering a sweet-tart flavor with a hint of citrus and subtle warmth from cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. This versatile recipe allows for the use of fresh or frozen fruit, ensuring you can enjoy the taste of Christmas anytime, whether it’s the peak of summer or the chill of winter.
Strawberries: Opt for a 40-ounce bag of frozen strawberries, making it convenient to whip up this festive treat year-round.
Cranberries: Choose either fresh or frozen cranberries, depending on seasonal availability.
Orange Zest: Extract the flavorful essential oils from the outer layer of orange peel, avoiding the bitter taste of the underlying white pith.
Cinnamon, Cloves, and Allspice: Infuse the jam with holiday warmth using a balanced combination of these aromatic spices.
Sugar: A 4-lb. bag of sugar ensures the perfect consistency and setting of the jam, so don’t shy away from this crucial ingredient.
Liquid Fruit Pectin: The secret thickening agent that transforms the fruity mixture into a luscious, spreadable jam.
Sterilized Half-Pint Mason Jars and Lids: Opt for these charming jars, perfect for gifting or personal enjoyment.
Sterilized Funnel: Simplify the jarring process, preventing spills and ensuring precision.
Canning Tongs: Essential for handling hot jars during the boiling water bath.
Saucepan: Choose a spacious pot to accommodate the bubbling and foaming mixture.
Potato Masher or Food Processor: Smash the berries to the desired consistency before cooking.
Wooden Spoon: Stirring is a crucial step in achieving the perfect texture and flavor.
How to Make Christmas Jam:
Fruit Preparation: Chop and Blend Begin by chopping the strawberries and cranberries in a food processor or by hand if a processor is unavailable. The goal is to achieve a coarsely chopped texture, maintaining some larger fruit chunks for a delightful jam experience.
Aromatic Infusion: Spice it Up Combine the chopped fruit with orange zest, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and the required amount of sugar in a spacious Dutch oven. Allow the mixture to reach a rolling boil, infusing your kitchen with the irresistible aroma of holiday spices.
Precision Boiling: Timing is Everything Boil the fruity concoction for precisely 1 minute. This step is crucial to the jam’s success, ensuring the correct setting consistency.
Pectin Magic: Thickening the Jam Stir in the liquid fruit pectin and continue boiling for another exact minute. This magical ingredient thickens the jam, setting the stage for a velvety texture.
Cooling Ritual: Patience Rewarded After boiling, let the mixture cool for 5 minutes. Skim off any foam that may have formed. Don’t be alarmed if the jam seems thin at this stage; it will thicken as it cools.
Jar Filling: A Feast for the Eyes Carefully ladle the jam into sterilized half-pint jars, leaving a quarter-inch headspace. Seal the jars securely, preparing them for the next step.
Water Bath Transformation: Sealing the Magic Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. The satisfying “pop” sound as the lids seal marks the completion of this enchanting culinary journey.
Resting Period: Allow the Magic to Settle Let the jars rest undisturbed at room temperature for 12 hours. During this time, the jam will transform, setting into the perfect texture that embodies the spirit of the holiday season.
Setting the Stage: The Art of Patience in Jam Making
Once the jars have undergone the hot water bath and rested at room temperature for 12 hours, the Christmas Jam will continue to set over the next 24-48 hours. The initially thin consistency will evolve into a thick, luscious texture. Patience is key to achieving the full magic of this festive creation.
Once cooled, inspect the seals on your jars. Properly sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark, dry place, such as a pantry, for up to 8 months. Unsealed jars should be refrigerated and consumed within 3 weeks. The longevity of this homemade jam ensures that you can savor the flavors of the holiday season well beyond December.
Experiment with fresh instead of frozen strawberries and cranberries for a twist on the classic recipe.
Customize the spice levels by adjusting the quantity of cinnamon, cloves, and allspice to suit your taste preferences.
For a smaller batch, halve all ingredients while maintaining the same ratios for a perfectly scaled-down version.
Weigh the berries for precise measurements, ensuring the right balance of sugar to acid.
Thaw frozen fruit in the fridge or use partially thawed fruit for efficient chopping.
Avoid puréeing the fruit; pulse the berries to maintain a chunky texture, easily mashed during cooking.
Carefully boil the fruit mixture with pectin for exactly 1 minute to achieve the desired gel.
Leave a quarter-inch of headspace in each jar for a secure vacuum seal during processing.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can the jam be frozen instead of canned?
The original recipe doesn’t explore this option, but adventurous chefs are encouraged to experiment.
Does the recipe really require 5 pounds of sugar?
Absolutely, this precise measurement is crucial for a successful batch.
Can the jam be made with less sugar?
Reader testimonials suggest success with reduced sugar, but caution is advised when deviating from the original recipe.
Can sugar substitutes be used?
Pectin’s interaction with sugar is vital, making it challenging to replace sugar entirely.
Can powdered pectin substitute liquid pectin?
While untested in this recipe, readers have reported success with the substitution.