[NAFEX] (no subject)

Ginda Fisher list at ginda.us
Sat Aug 30 08:28:15 EDT 2008

On Aug 30, 2008, at 4:44 AM, Stephen Sadler wrote:
> I still can't recommend doubling a recipe.  Master food preservers  
> (I'm not
> one anymore) are instructed to just say no to that...

Why's that?

Unless there's a health risk, I'd say just double or triple your  
recipe, and then fiddle around with the larger-batch recipe until you  
get it to work right.  If you're using chunks of fruit you'll have to  
make the chunks about the same size each time, or weigh them, to be  
able to reproduce your proportions properly, of course.  I have a  
kitchen scale, but find volume measures easier in most cases, so I'd  
probably go with "same size chunks".  YMMV.

I'm far from a master food preserver, and I'd use the freezer to  
preserve anything except super-safe stuff.  I consider full-sugar  
jellies and pickles to be pretty safe, however.  I'm not enough of a  
pickle fan to make my own, but I don't worry about eating my dad's  
pickles from a recipe he's multiplied by some huge factor (whatever  
fits his cucumber harvest this year.)

The only jelly I've made myself is red currant.  Red currants have a  
lot of pectin, so my recipe is:

Make red currant juice: mash the fruit in a pot, adding a little  
water if needed to keep the bottom wet.  Cook gently until all the  
berries are wrinkled and the skins look whitish.  Run the mess  
through a foley mill and a fine sieve (possibly with cheesecloth.  If  
you use cheesecloth, but sure to wet it before use, or it will suck  
up lots of juice) to get a clear juice.

Turn juice into jelly:  Follow the proportions of juice to sugar in  
"The Joy of Cooking" (I think it recommends equal volumes of juice  
and sugar, but I'd check that) and cook gently until it looks like  
it's reached the right stage.  Then pour into sterile glass bottles  
and seal.  Leave the bottle on the countertop until they are cool  
enough to handle, and then store in the fridge.

The stuff lasts a few years in my fridge without molding, and tastes  
terrific.  It's both very sweet and very sour, so I'm pretty sure it  
doesn't grow botulism or anything like that.

BUT, each batch of currants has a different amount of pectin.  The  
pectin quantity is very dependent on the ripeness of the fruit.   
(under-ripe fruit has more, and over-ripe fruit has less).  I think  
the pectin also breaks down after making juice, if I let the juice  
sit in the fridge too long before I get around to jellying it.  So  
it's critical to know what it's supposed to look like when it's  
cooked enough, because each batch behaves a little differently.  I'd  
expect the same sort of variation in any fruit product.  The  
sweetness, juiciness, and pectin content of each batch of fruit is  
likely to vary, and you'll have to futz a little with the cooking  
time or proportions to adapt.

Ginda Fisher
Eastern MA, zone 6

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