Friday, May 20, 2011

Cause and Effect; No Jam for Me

Oh where, oh where has my strawberry jam gone
Oh where, oh where can it be
With its lid capped tight and its glistening smile
Oh where, oh where can it be?

You may remember at the beginning of the month I mentioned that May is National Strawberry Month. You may also remember these jars of Strawberry Jam prepared by my daughter Michele and her "jammin' friends.

Well, as luck would have it, I still haven't received my forgotten jars of frozen home made strawberry jam but, I did retrieve the recipe once I remembered Michele buying boxes and boxes of SURE.JELL®

The likelihood of me preparing my own frozen strawberry jam is nil. I do hope Michele eventually finds the time to send my jars (hint hint daughter:) In the mean time, I thought I would further investigate The Secrets of the Jam Cupboard. (© 1932)

Before there was SURE.JELL®, there was Certo and before that, plain old pectin.

Pectin extracted from plants has been used as a gelling agent in food for many years. In fact, the invention of using pectin as a gelling agent dates from the 1820s when the Frenchman Henri Braconnot prepared a synthetic jelly with alkali-extracted pectin. However, the first recorded commercial production of pectin extract was in Germany in 1908, after which the process spread to the U.S. where Robert Douglas obtained a patent.
Historically, apple pomace was the major source of pectin, but in recent years, an increasing use of citrus peel has taken place. An additional but less important source of pectin is sugar beet pulp. In recent years, new application opportunities have emerged and pectin is also used as a stabilizer in fruit juices and milk drinks and as a source of dietary fiber. It is also used as a thickening agent. (Food Stabilisers, Thickeners and Gelling Agents by Alan Imeson; John Wiley and Sons, 2009 @ google books)
Click to enlarge:
continue @ google patents

If you noticed in the above patent information, Robert Douglass received his patent on May 20, 1919. Excuse me for a moment but I must take a second to announce that today also happens to be Dolly Madison's birthday. If you click the image below, it should take you to a post I did about her and her "fashionable" contribution to dining at the White House.

So, who was Robert Douglas? It seems, Robert Douglas' father, David Douglas, founded the Scone Jam Factory in Perth Scotland. "Robert Douglas moved to America where he discovered fruit pectin and became President of the Certo Corporation," later sold to General Foods.
...Here his sons learnt the business of jam making and when they went to America they devised a means of extracting from fruit, mainly apples, a setting agent called fruit pectin which was used by preserve manufacturers. They later commercialised the product under the name of Certo for the use of the housewife which proved to be highly successful...

Just what is CERTO?

Let's take a peak into the Secrets of the Jam Cupboard:
Certo is a solution of that constituent of fruit which makes jelly "jell." It is a pure fruit product extracted from fruit, refined and concentrated to a definite jelly-making strength. Added to fruit or fruit juices, Certo supplies the exact amount of jellying substance needed.
Liquid pectin, Certo, was first produced for commercial use only. Around 1921, Certo Corporation introduced liquid pectin to the retail market. It is said that the name for Certo was suggested my a maid at the Douglas household who came up with the name because it proved certain to make jelly, "jell." Who knows for sure? We do know that a pectin in powdered form, Sure-Jell, was introduced around 1934.
Personally, I have never "jelled." I don't even know the difference between jelly, jam, preserves and Jell-O. I need to know, is there a difference? Why yes there is. For one thing, pectin is a carbohydrate where gelatin is a protein. Here are a few other basic differences, just in case you too need to know:)
  • In jelly, the fruit comes in the form of fruit juice.
  • In jam, the fruit comes in the form of fruit pulp or crushed fruit.
  • In preserves, the fruit comes in the form of chunks in a syrup or a jam.

Make Your Own Pectin

Did you know you can make your own pectin right in your home kitchen? Understand, I said you. The chances on me making homemade pectin is more niller than me making my own homemade jelly or jam. (is niller a word I wonder:) First, I need to refresh my memory as to what pectin is. Bear with me for just a quote:)
Pectin is a natural carbohydrate that is extracted from the inner peel of many fruits; it is most commonly extracted from lemons, as well as limes, oranges and grapefruits. It is the interaction between pectin and sugar that causes jams and jellies to set. The PH of the food also plays a role in this interaction between pectin and sugar, so some recipes call for lemon juice in order to make the recipe just acidic enough to set. The peels are washed, ground and processed to extract the pectin. (Kraft)
Many fruits such as apples, apricots, quince, pears, plums, gooseberries, oranges and other citrus fruits, contain pectin naturally with the white part of citrus peels containing the highest amount.

Fruit like cherries, grapes, strawberries and blackberries contain little pectin and either have to be concentrated down or need to be mixed with apples and other fruit to set. Seeds often contain lots of pectin which is why grape jellies are always made with grape seeds and why plum seeds are often added in a muslin bag to plum jams. You can also add citrus peel to other jams to add more pectin to them. Carrots can contain up to 1.5% pectin so you can add a muslin bag of grated carrot to a fruit jam or jelly to help them set. The same is true of rhubarb which also contains about 1.2% pectin. Kitchen Butterfly has an excellent post available on How to Make & Preserve Apple Pectin which is introduced by a lovely poem. Such talent!!! There's also a Jam Making Pectin Chart for Fruit here.

An excellent source of instructions, for preparing your own pectin at home, can be found at Oregon State University. I was going to include them here but they are so thorough, they just plum got in my way!

However, I would like to add just a little addendum to their wonderful directions. It's a bit "old fashioned" and perhaps not as accurate as their suggested test but I did have to mention it.

Test for Pectin: Their way:
An alcohol test gives a rough estimate of the amount of pectin in fruit juice. In a small dish, put 1 teaspoon juice and 1 Tablespoon 70% rubbing alcohol. Stir slightly to mix.

Juice high in pectin will form a solid jelly-like mass that can be lifted with a fork, Juices low in pectin will remain liquid or form only small particles jelly-like lumps. Note: Do not taste this mixture. Rubbing alcohol is poisonous. Keep the container out of reach of children.

Another Way:
I found another method for testing for pectin in the American Woman's Cook Book published in 1947. If I were a jelly making type of girl, I'd certainly give it a whirl. Epsom salt sounds so much better than rubbing alcohol. Don't you think? If anyone trys it, I'd love feedback!!!

To determine the proportion of pectin present in a fruit juice, combine 1 tablespoon extracted juice, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons Epsom salt. Stir until salts are dissolved, let stand 20 minutes. If a solid mass or large flocculent particles are formed, the juice contains enough pectin to make a satisfactory jelly.

How about when it comes to Powdered Pectin vs. Liquid Pectin? This is what Kelly, an experienced "jammer" has to say. (Thanks Kelly:)

"I have made a LOT of Jam this summer. I have come to notice that several of the recipes I use call for liquid pectin instead of powered pectin.  I am a frugal person and it pains me to have to pay twice as much for the liquid pectin.  So I did some research and have learned that you can use powered pectin in a recipe that calls for liquid pectin, but you have to add the ingredients in a different order.  The two pectin’s are not quite interchangeable, but all of my results have been fabulous.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: When using powdered pectin for cooked jam, add it to the strained juice or chopped fruit BEFORE heating. Next, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down). THEN add the sugar. Bring to a boil again and boil for 1 minute.

When using liquid pectin, first combine the chopped fruit (or strained juice) with the sugar and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil; (stir constantly so you won’t scorch the mixture). Then add the liquid pectin, return the mixture to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute."

Freezer Strawberry Jam

The long awaited strawberry jam Michele and her pals congealed is absolutely delicious. She's been making the same recipe ever since the kids were able to eat peanut butter and jelly. Last summer, she didn't make as much as normal and boy oh boy, did Noah miss his strawberry jam!!! Noah has recently been diagnosed with numerous food allergies. Thank goodness neither peanut butter or strawberries were on the list!

It winds up that I did manage to take the Sure.Jell recipe leaflet home with me even if I did forget the strawberry jam. (in my own defense, I wasn't thinking about hitting the freezer at 4AM) The recipe leaflet followed me home because it is enroute to Katie's house. When Katie heard there was an easy, sweet way to make strawberry jam that didn't require a lot o fuss, she requested the recipes, as she said, "for the kids. I know better:)

Michele swears by the above recipe, while others have had to make a few adjustments.

As I looked for a special recipe to include in todays post, I happened upon this thing of beauty in The Reader's Digest Book of Cakes.

Isn't it just gorgeous! The book labels it Rosita Charlotte while the hostess over @ Bonbini calls it Charlotte Royal, also an acceptable name, don't you think:) Quite frankly, when I first laid eyes on this cake, I knew I was going to have to attempt to bake it myself. As I write this post, my roulade is chilling in the fridge. I'm not sure I'm up to preparing the bavarian cream which goes into the center of the mold but, I may just give it a whirl. We'll see:) In the mean time, I must leave you with directions for preparing this cake. It is such an elaborate looking cake that I know many of you will lift to graciousness. Just look what Lauren did!!!

Rosita Charlotte
This recipe calls for a jelly roll filled with strawberry jelly or in my case strawberry-like jam. Roll the cake up tightly, wrap in waxed paper, and store in the refrigerator for at least an hour to make for easy slicing. I suggest choosing your favorite roulade recipe first. I went with a chocolate sponge roll recipe that I adapted using a cake mix. (I was determined to at least try and for me, these days, that means cake mix) I was, however, quite tempted to attempt the Chocolate Sponge Cake recipe I found at The Joy of Baking. You're also going to need to check your recipe files for your favorite Bavarian Cream recipe. Your choices are numerous. I would have loved to try Mary's recipe over @ One Perfect Bite. I just wasn't sure I would do it justice though. As I said, I'm hesitant when it comes to Bavarian Cream. Bavarian Creams are thickened custards fortified with gelatin and lightened with whipped cream. Bavarian Cream fillings are very firm and hold their shape when sliced or unmolded. The directions in the book suggests a Classic Bavarian Cream.

Once you have your tasty "tools," it just a matter of assembly:
1. Rinse a 1-1/2 quart charlotte mold or souffle dish with cold water.
2. Without drying, line the mold/bowl with plastic wrap.
3. Cut the jelly roll into 1/2 inch thick slices
4. Line the mold/bowl with the slices, fitting them tightly.
5. Spoon the Bavarian Cream over
6. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, or until set.
7. Place a serving plate over the mold/bowl and invert.
8. Carefully remove the wrap.

Tune in Sunday to see how my roulade shaped up. I still haven't decided what I'm going to do with it. And, before I forget, tomorrow is, you guessed it, National Strawberries and Cream Day!!!

1. International Pectin Producers Association (I was surprised too:)
2. Food Stabilisers, Thickeners and Gelling Agents (@ google books)
3. How To Make Jams And Jellies
4. Making Jam And Preserves
5. Making Jelly
6. Using Honey and Corn Syrup in Jelly
7. History of the Jelly Doughnut @ Leite's Culinaria
8. Powdered Pectin vs. Liquid Pectin
9. Gelling problems
10. Pectin for Arthritis Pain?
1. Make Your Own Apple Pectin (step by step info)
2. Sure-Jell Strawberry Jam Recipe
3. Lemon-Poppyseed Jelly (@ Lynn's Queen of the Castle)
4. Luxury Strawberry And Champagne Jam
5. Forever Amber: Versatile Apple Jelly
6. Pomegranate Jelly
7. Garlic Lovers’ Tomatillo Jam (no pectin required)
8. Unusual Jelly Recipes
9. Mom's Fig Jam (@ Cucina Panzano)
10. Sour Cherry Freezer Jam
11. Reduced-Sugar Blackberry-Plum (or Raspberry-Plum) Freezer Jam
12. Freezer Apricot Jam
13. Long list of recipes
14. Extensive Recipe List; Food in Jars


  1. louise dear, I always wanted to make my strawberry jam but fresh berries are too pricey here. So, I switched to other cheaper fruits jam. Thanks for sharing such beautiful post. Hope you're enjoying your weekened.
    Blessings, Kristy

  2. I love strawberry preserves. Great recipes in your post!

  3. Great information as always, Louise. Another item now on my to do list: learn to make pectin ;)

  4. Wow. Who knew?! Poor pectin... I took it for granted.

    I'm not much of a jelly/jam fan, but the Knight is.

  5. Hi Louise - The freezer jam recipe is similar to the way I preserve strawberries in the freezer after the summer months. The sugar creates a syrup, and preserves the strawberries which are then frozen. When you defrost, you can use them on ice cream or pound cake. You should try making your own jam!

  6. that cake..wow

  7. it's always seemed amazing to me how one little mismeasurement can ruin a batch of jelly. it's so fickle, that pectin! :)

  8. My mother had that freezer jam recipe and made it every summer...both strawberry AND raspberry. I have no idea why I've never tried it as it's so simple. Really an interesting post, Louise.
    And I love the looks of your Rosita Bavarian; hope it turns out the way it should. I'll stay tuned to see!

  9. Louise I love strawberry preserve, I love this post! gloria

  10. I always wanted to make a Charlotte. But Bavarian cream - please don't mention it :) I've tried it two times and it was a complete desaster ...

  11. Really enjoyed reading your post today Louise. I have never made jam with certo or added pectin. In our french canadian kitchen we make confitures au fraise. Our strawberries are cooked in a sugar syrup until thicken and preserved this way. This year I jsut might try the certo way.

  12. Thank you for this post...I was needing incentive to invest in some equipment and jars.

    Also, very happy about the unusual jelly link. Tomato jam was the first way my grandmother ever got me to eat tomatoes that weren't catsup! She passed without leaving a recipe.

  13. My dream is a pantry full of little jewel-toned jars of jams and jellies. I do make green pepper jelly and marmalade, but have little luck with anything else. I did, as it happens, come home with a book on jams from the library and have big plans for this summer. Oh, I do make chutney.

  14. Brilliant post! Love the vintage ads, recipes and the jellyroll recipe. Wish I lived closer..

  15. Oh yes, that cake is gorgeous! I don't think I'll be making my own pectin either but I would love to do some canning this summer. Then again, I can found so many yummy preserves at the nearby farmers market why bother. I guess it saves money or it's just the satisfaction of making it myself. Great research again, Louise! Always a pleasure to stop by for a little history.

  16. What a great read, absolutely fascinating I loved the background and the history. I'm behind on your posts but look forward to catching up and savoring them as I do. Hope all goes well for you

  17. wow! so many new things to know about!

  18. That's okay, Kristy. Any kind of jam is worth a try in my book! I'd be happy to send you some strawberries if they would keep:)

    Thanks Yummy!

    I'm thinking of making some myself to Lynn. Why? Because it is so easy!!! Well, it sounds easy anyway.

    Make some for the Knight, Channon. I'm sure he deserves it:)

    I am considering making my own freezer jam, T.W. I can see this is going to be another bountiful summer and I do so want to preserve a few bites. We'll see...

    Thanks for popping in blackberry. I'm delighted the cake wowed you!

    Fickle, pectin. I like the sound of that, Grace.

    As you know, Barbara, the Rosita didn't turn out exactly as planned, however, it sure tasted yummy! I bought my first batch of local strawberries yesterday. Not ready for jammin', but maybe soon:)

    Me too, Gloria

    I'm still trying to work myself up to make Bavarian Cream, Petra. Someday...

  19. I'm delighted you enjoyed this post Rita. I may just try your way of preserving strawberries. It sure sounds easy!

    Have fun Jesses. Is your first batch going to be Tomato Jelly? I should try your grandmother's remedy with Noah. He's the Ketchup kid; tomatoes not so much. Thanks for dropping by...

    So, Pattie, you ARE a Jammer!!!

    Head East, Janet. I'll catch you!!!

    I'm not quite sure about the savings, Lin Ann. But, oh yes, the satisfaction and convenience is notable.

    I'm humbled by your words, Oyster coming from one who does an aboslutely fabulous job of posting tons of tidbits so eloquently. Thank YOU!!!

    Don't they just all make you hungry, SimpleLife?


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise