Monday, June 18, 2007

Fruit preservation orthodoxy

IMG_5658_1Made strawberry jam yesterday. Only because it's usually mostly dad that eats it and because he's diabetic mom decided that we would use splenda instead of real sugar. You know the stuff that "tastes like sugar because it's made from sugar?" It doesn't taste like sugar, really. I think it has a weird aftertaste. You're supposed to be able to substitute it in recipes cup for cup, but every time I've done that things come out disgustingly sickly sweet, and so if that's what I'm using, I usually cut the amount of splenda by 2/3.

Still, it doesn't really taste like sugar, which means that the jam, being merely sugar, berries and pectin doesn't really taste the same. We've always made freezer jam. The recipe has always been

4 cups mashed fruit + 6 cups sugar + 1 package pectin
mix fruit and sugar, add pectin, let sit in bowl a few minutes, pour into jars, leave jars out overnight, store in freezer indefinitely

That's the way it has to be. That's the way it's always been. It's like religion. Other people cook their jam before it goes into the jar, but that changes the flavour of the berries and makes them less sweet. Other people use the snap lids instead of the plastic screw lids, and that involves cooking the jam in the jars. All commercial jam is made like that. That's why without exception all storebought jam sucks.

But seriously, they couldn't fit the 11th commandment on the tablets but if it was there it would read:

Thou shalt not cook the berries in your jam.

followed by:

Thou shalt only play Bob Marley while making jam.

So imagine our horror when the splenda wasn't really dissolving into the berry puree, and to solve the problem, mom stuck it all in a pot on the stove. "You're not cooking it, are you?" dad asked. Mom gave him a guilty look and said that that's what it said to do in the official splenda cookbook.

Sounds like heresy to me.