(Jars of Plum jelly and Peach-Raspberry jam)
I’ve come to understand that the key to really great jam is a good dose of humor and a dash of sass! No one better to have taught me this lesson than the blue ribbon jam lady Barb Schaller. She does magic with fruit and pectin and never steps foot into the kitchen without her pearls (a nod to June Clever). She has been winning ribbons at the Minnesota State FAIR since 1981 and holds its Prestigious Processor of the Pantry award along with countless blue ribbons. She also has developed 2 jams for M.A. Gedney Company’s Award Winning State Fair Recipe line of preserves.
I met Barb, and her charming husband Rob, at a book signing for ABin5. She handed me a bag of home made jams and I’ve been a devout follower of hers ever since. I’ve been begging to get in the kitchen with her for well over a year and this past weekend she graciously allowed me and my friend Jen to watch. What an incredible honor to spend a day in the kitchen with a true master of her craft and watch this year’s blue ribbon recipe in the works.
Barb Schaller’s Peach-Raspeberry Jam:
(Mother Superior, the Holy Order of the Sacred Sisters of St. Pectina of Jella. Wearing pearls and a smile are important elements to making great jam.)
Peach Raspberry Jam (a reduced sugar recipe) Makes 5-6 half pint jars:
2 1/2 cups crushed, peeled peaches (about 6 medium)
1 1/2 cups crushed raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
juice of half a lime
1 (1.75 ounce) package Ball 1.75OZ No Sugar Needed Pectin
3 cups granulated sugar
Recommended equipment for jam making. It seems like a lot of stuff, but you probably have some of it already:
21-Quart Covered Preserving Pot/Canner with Rack For boiling the jars
Heavy bottom 6 quart pot for cooking jam
Heat Resistant Rubber Spatula For stirring the jam
Kerr mason jar, 8oz Make sure there are no cracks or chips on the rims.
Kerr mason jar lids and bands. You can not reuse the lids, so having extra is a good idea.
Magnetic Lid Lifter Just wait to see how handy this is.
Kitchen Tongs For arranging the jars in the pot.
Barb’s recommended reading list:
Ball Blue Book of Preserving make sure it is the latest version. Barb lives by this…“Our grandmothers and great-aunts preserved the fruits of the harvest using the safest and most current information and methods available to them at the time. We should do no less.”
To make the jam:
Wash the jars and then place them in a large kettle of warm, not hot water, then bring it to a boil to sanitize the jars. Leave the jars in the hot water until ready to fill.
Barb used a potato masher for the peaches, she wanted to keep them chunky not finely pureed.
Combine the fruits, apple juice and lime juice in a 6 quart saucepan. Gradually stir in the pectin while stirring with the spatula. Bring to a rolling boil, that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
Add the sugar and stir thoroughly. Return the mixture to a rolling boil and boil hard for 2-3 minutes.
When you lift your spatula you will see that the juices are starting to set, but still able to drip. If it is too thick right away she suggested adding a touch more apple juice.
Remove from heat, pour the jam into a pourable 2 quart measuring cup. Stir slowly and gently for 5 minutes to help ensure the fruit is distributed evenly. Use your skimmer to skim any foam off the top. Lift the spatula from the jam again to see if it is setting, it should be setting somewhat, but still pourable.
(Please note that the following pictures are of jelly, so there is no fruit visible. When you make Barb’s recipe for Peach-Raspberry jam there will be lovely chunks of fruit.)
Remove the hot jars onto a clean kitchen towel and drop the lids into the still hot, but not boiling water. You do not want to boil the lids because you may damage the rubber seal.
Fill the hot jars with the hot jam/jelly. Barb has done this a few thousand times and no longer uses a funnel, but recommends it for anyone without as much practice. That would be you and me.
Leave 1/4-inch of headspace (air) at the top of the jar.
Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean towel.
Using the magnet, lift the hot lids from the water and place them on the jars. Apply the band and tighten, but not too much. (Barb recommends doing this with just your thumb and middle finger, because it is harder to overdo it with just two fingers.)
Place the jars back in the hot water using the jar lifter.
Use the rack in your pot if you have to stack the jars. Make sure the jars are completely covered with the water. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes (adjusting for altitude) as set on your timer.
Remove the jars and allow to cool on a towel.
This is the plum Jelly that Barb made from the juice of her own plums from tree in her yard. Gorgeous and perfectly clear. The Peach Raspberry Jam was as lovely, but with chunks of fruit throughout. I meant to take a picture of it for you, but my boys and I ate it in one sitting. I’ll just have to make more. (You can see it in the picture at the top of the post.)
Thank you Barb, for sharing your wisdom and love of jammin’ with all of us!