Your trees or vines are overflowing with ripe fruit and your freezer is full of frozen fruit. What do you do with all that fruit? Make preserves! Jams, jellies, marmalade, fruit butter, compote and conserves are some great ways to use the bounty from the orchard.
So what’s the difference between all those different types of preserves? They all have the same basic ingredients: fruit, sugar as a preservative, pectin, and acid either naturally in the fruit or added to react with the pectin to make the preserve gel. In our video, Making Organic Plum Jam, Tricia takes you through the process of making jam from plums, check it out and make your own jam with the fruit of your choosing.
Jam is probably the most common preserve. It is made of whole fruit that’s crushed or chopped, and cooked until the fruit looses shape and enough water has evaporated to make it spreadable. Sometimes jams don’t need pectin to gel to the right consistency. Common fruit used in jam is strawberries, blackberries or other berries. But really you can use most types of fruit to make jam. You can use a water bath canner or keep it in the freezer until you are ready to use it.
Jelly is made with just the fruit juice filtered through cheesecloth or a jelly bag. Good choices of fruit to use for jelly are apples, crabapples, blackberries, gooseberries, grapes or plums.
Compote is made by slow cooking fruit in sugar syrup. The slow cooking ensures the fruit holds it’s shape. Compotes can be preserved using the water bath method, or you can store small portions in the freezer and remove when you are ready to eat. There are many ways to eat compote. You can serve it with yogurt and some muesli for a fantastic breakfast, or serve warm topped with some crème fraîche or even better, homemade vanilla ice cream. Try a spoonful or two on top of a waffle for a breakfast treat. My mouth is watering already!
Conserves are basically a jam made with multiple types of fruit and sometimes even nuts and dried fruit are added.
Marmalades are jelly with pieces of fruit rinds in it. They have a great sweet and sour flavor, citrus peel marmalade are the most common (orange marmalade).
Fruit butter doesn’t have any pectin it. Fruit pulp is cooked with sugar over a long period. Basically, the consistency of a fruit butter comes from all the evaporation that happens during the cooking process. Fruits that contain less water, like apples or pears are good choices to make richly flavored fruit butters. But really you can use whatever you want. Check out this great article and recipe for making apple butter!