When we moved to Southern California, one of the first things I noticed were all the different types of trees and flowers. One bush that had me puzzled was in our front yard. It had large, flat, green leaves and this past spring it was full of white fragrant blossoms. Then, we saw the small pear shaped fruit called loquats. I looked up the history of this interesting fruit.
They go back about 1,000 years to China and were imported to Japan and then finally made there way here. They are often used in landscape because of the green bush but in areas where the climate is just perfect, they bloom and bare fruit. Clusters of bright orange fruit. I admit, I was expecting something like a Kumquat.. which is too bitter for my taste, but instead, the soft fleshy fruit tasted more like a cross between an apricot and kiwi. Mmm.
When I got home, after being gone for a week at a writer’ conference, most of the fruit was ripe. So, I decided to can it! I looked up loquat recipes and there were several versions of jam. I decided to combine a few to create one I thought would be best. You can follow whatever recipe you want, but this is the one I came up with and, after 3 batches, I think it is pretty dialed in.
I also use a steam canner which can be purchased through Amazon for $25.00 and has made canning so easy compared to the boiling water bath method. As far as sterilizing my jars and lids, I run them through the dishwasher and time it so they are still hot while I am finishing up the fruit.
Some of my earliest memories involve my grandmother getting a can of homemade jam from her pantry and popping open the lid. Having lived through times that were tough, they never let things go to waste, especially good fruits or vegetables. There is something nostalgic about canned goods from produce that was picked at it’s prime, when the flavor is at it’s fullest. It makes you savor and taste verses grabbing and gulping. It slows things down a notch. Which, in today’s instant on-the-go society, might not be a bad thing.
Making your own jam is easier than you might think. And worse case scenario, if it doesn’t set up the first time, you will have the best syrup ever to drizzle on waffles.
Take time to savor life.. one bite at a time.
SUPPLIES: steam canner, jars, lids and rings, kitchen towels, ladle, and a funnel.
INGREDIENTS: Loquats! Lots and lots of loquats. Luckily, they are easy to pick and the bush is fairly low. The difference between jam and jelly is that jam has pieces of fruit in it, unlike jelly which is made from the juice and is a lot more work! I figured it took about 8 – 9 cups of halved and seeded fruit to make 6 cups of fruit after it was chopped.
Add fruit, the juice of one lemon (1/8 of a cup), and a box of pectin-which can be purchased at a grocery store. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat and continue stirring for 4 minutes.
Add 6 cups sugar and continue to stir, bringing back to boil and stir for another 4 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp. butter, stir for about 1 – 2 minutes.
Ladle hot jam into hot jars. I run my jars through the dishwasher. Fill to within 1/4 inch from top and wipe the edge clean with a damp paper towel. Put on hot lids and rings. Do NOT over tighten.
I loved taking a small canning class a few years ago and learning about this method. It is so much faster, easier, and doesn’t involve lifting jars of jam out of boiling water.
Put about 1/2 inch of water in bottom of canner. Add 8 – 10 pennies and put the rack in. Add the jars and cover with lid.
When the pennies start to “dance”, set the timer for 10 minutes. Carefully lift the lid away from you. Lift jars out and let cool on a dishtowel.
Listen for the PING of the lid sealing.
Scrape the left over jam from pan and spread on a piece of bread and enjoy looking at the fruit of your labor! You did it! You made jam.
From my kitchen to yours,