Jams, Jelly, Marmalade… they come in several forms but all represent one of the ancient methods of food preservation, still in use today. The practice of preserving fruits and sometimes plants and vegetables in sugar and honey pre-dates roman era according to food historians, with early reference to ancient Greeks. The ancient fruit preserves involved storing fruit peels, pieces in honey in tight jars with honey acting as natural preservative. Romans improvised it by cooking fruits and quinces in honey and spices [Source:HFP], a practice that has not changed much even today.
Jams , Jelly or Marmalades are differentiated by their texture and the way fruit is used. Jams use fruit chunks and juice as key ingredient which is cooked in honey and sugar giving it more of chunky texture. Jellies on the other hand are fruit juices cooked into smooth gelatinous texture. Marmalades are fruit juices and peels especially that of lemons, limes or other similar citrus fruits. The commercial production of fruit preserves load them with corn syrup and various artificial flavors. However, preparation of Jam needs only three things, sugar, pectin and acid all three ingredients available in fruits and are very easy to prepare at home. Preparing jams at home is easy, fun and rather healthy compared to store bought high sugar, high corn syrup jams and gives you ample opportunity to satisfy your creative nerves. Here is a recipe for Pineapple Jam that I learnt from my mother, something I have watched her make ever since I was a kid and thoroughly enjoyed it with breads, chapatis and several other Indian snacks.
- Pineapple – 1
- Sugar – 2 cups
- Honey – 3-4 tablespoons
- Ghee (clarified butter) – 1 tablespoon
- Cardamom powder – 1 tablespoon
- Lemon Juice – 2 tablespoons
- Salt – a pinch
- Hand chop a Pineapple or pulse it in a food processor into finer chunks
- On a medium flame place a pan, add crushed pineapple, sugar, salt and mix well
- Let it cook for 30 mins occasionally stirring, sugar will start to melt, cooking fruit in it
- Once the jam starts thickening add lemon juice and Ghee mix it well
- Let the jam cook for another 10-15 mins or till you get your desired thickness
- Add cardamom powder and honey, mix well and turn off the heat and close the lid
- Store it in a jar once the jam cools off
- Delicious Pineapple Jam is ready!
Pineapple Jam can be refrigerated and used for a couple of months. The honey and sugar syrup act as natural preservative and refrigeration protects it from any left over moisture spoiling the jam. Jams make delicious spread for breads, pancakes and can be used in baking. Experiment with different types of fruits. Instead of loading up on high fructose sugar of commercial products, next time when you look at a jam variety in a store come home and try it yourself and enjoy the process of making jams at home!