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How to Keep That Fresh Picked Flavor

by Daniel on April 11th, 2012

OK. You have heeded the advice of garden enthusiasts and nutritionists and packed the entire family up to go berry picking. You filled basket upon basket of luscious fruit and headed home, pleased with your day’s work.
Arriving at home, you suddenly panic, overwhelmed by the vast volume of fruit and wondering how you will ever consume all of it without turning a shade or two of red, purple or blue.

No need to fear. Besides enjoying the fresh-picked flavor of the ripened fruit now, you can savor its flavor for months to come by preserving it. Jellies, jams, fruit butters, and preserves provide an excellent means for using up the fruit you have picked — even the less than perfect berries selected by your toddler.

At first glance, these confections may seem loaded with sugar and nutritionally questionable, but they make excellent substitutes for fat-laden spreads such as butter, margarine and mayonnaise and contribute small amounts of vitamins and antioxidants as well.

Definitions
Fruit jelly is made from the juices of ripened, or slightly underripe fruit which is then jelled until firm.
Jams contain crushed or ground fruit which has also been jelled.
Preserves contain chunks or whole pieces of fruit in a thickened syrup.
Fruit butters, such as apple or pear butter, don’t contain butter at all, but rather pieces of fruit pulp which have been cooked with sugar until a thick puree forms.

All of these tasty spreads contain sugar along with the fruit as well as a source of pectin, used as a thickening agent. Some require the addition of liquid or powdered pectin, and some can be made successfully using the naturally occurring pectin contained within the fruit.

Why So Much Sugar?
Besides imparting flavor, sugar is an excellent preservative. Though reducing the amount of sugar in recipes is a sensible step towards healthier eating, never reduce the amount of sugar in jelly or preserves recipes unless you are using an established recipe from a reliable source. Molds and yeast may thrive in jellies and preserves containing too little sugar. Besides that, sugar helps in the thickening process.

One taste of a homemade jam or jelly and you are will surely be convinced that berry picking should be an annual event in your household!

From → Health

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