Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cranberry Jam

Like Nigella Lawson has put it aptly, "If it's Christmas, it must be cranberries...". I would have shy away from cooking any jam because by looking at the recipe ingredients, I'd have turned the page when I see the word "pectin". Pectin is a thickening cum gelling agent that can be commercially-found in supermarket aisles (apparently...) but we don't find them here. The mentality here is basically, why bother cooking jam when you can buy a good jar organic preserve for only US$10 or a St Dalfour for only US$2.99 during sale? I agree in that sense but you see, pectin is actually a naturally-occurring substance from fruits if you cook it long enough, continuously stirring at low heat with sugar. This labourous effort of standing next to a hot stove,  getting splattered with hot jam while you're stirring is quite a put-off and it does take a long time. The pectin occurs when all the vitamins have been cooked out of the fruit and then will it start to thicken. So, if you use a pre-prepared pectin, you'll have your jam thicken in a much shorter time and use a lot less sugar.
The reason why I cooked this jam was because cranberries are pectin-intense. The pectin is released (as in jam will start to set) once the berries have burst. So, it didn't take as long. Sure, it's still a hot stove (I use a flame stove) and there were quite a bit of hot splatters when the berries started bursting but it wasn't a tiresome experience. Though I used equal amount of sugar to cook the cranberries with, the tartness of these berries still ruled the main flavour of the jam. And I loved the insanely rich and festively red of this jam!

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