How to make Jam with any fruit at home in Germany
It so often happens that we have lots of fruits lying in the fruit basket, and no one is willing to eat them. Recently, when I visited a farm near my place, I returned with loads of fruits that were impossible to finish before they got spoilt. Once, it so happened that our friends had a great harvest of fruits from their backyard garden and brought a bounty for us, which was much more than what we usually buy. I’m sure you have experienced something similar. So, what do you do with all the fruits that you are sure you won’t be able to finish?
I sometimes make fruit juices and sometimes I just top them on pancakes. And, at other times, I make jams and keep them in the fridge. They stay good for months together and get consumed much faster than fresh fruits. If you choose the right product, you can make homemade jams without preservatives and food colours.
In Germany, we get a product called Gelier Zucker, which is what you need to use for making jams. Gelier Zucker translates to jam sugar. Gelier Zucker is a mixture of sugar and gelling agents (like pectin), acidifiers, and preservatives.
The uses of these ingredients are given below:
Sugar(Zucker): For sweetness
Pectin (Pektine): For making a jelly
Acidifiers (Säuerungsmittel): Added to aid in jellying (The higher the acid level, the better the jellying process)
Preservatives (Konservierungsmittel): To increase the shelf life of the end product
On the supermarket shelf, you will find different Gelier Zucker labelled 1plus1, 2plus1, and 3plus1. Before understanding what these products are and which should be used, we need to understand the pectin level in fruits and its role in making jams.
What is pectin, and what is its use?
Pectin is a food additive added to jams, jellies, and marmalades to make a jelly. If you add the fruit + regular sugar and heat them together, the end product will be runny instead of jelly-like. Adding pectin makes it jelly-like.
Fruits naturally also have some amount of pectin in them. Some have higher amounts of pectin, while others have lower or none at all. The commonly available fruits available in Germany and their pectin content are given below:
Apple (Apfel ) : High
Strawberries (Erdbeeren): Low
Blueberries (Heidelbeeren): High
Raspberries (Himbeeren): High
Cherries (Kirchen): Low
Apricots (Aprikosen) : Low
Plums ( Pflaume): Low
One general rule of thumb you can apply is that the fruits with a stone, like peaches and plums, are low in pectin, and others, including citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, etc., are high in pectin.
Also, as the fruit ripens, it starts losing its pectin content.
Now, coming to the question of how to choose Gelier Zucker. You might have noticed 1plus1, 2plus1 and 3plus1 written on the packaging. Let’s understand what they mean.
What do 1plus1 (or 1:1), 2plus1 (or 2:1) and 3plus1 (or 3:1) mean?
1plus1 or 1:1 means that the proportion of fruit to Gelier Zucker is 1:1. Similarly, 2plus1 or 2:1 implies that the ratio of fruit to Gelier Zucker is 2:1, and 3plus1 or 3:1 means that the proportion of fruit to Gelier Zucker is 3:1.
3:1 has more jellying agents ( pectin) than 2:1, which in turn has more jellying agents than 1:1.
Therefore, if you plan to make a jam, jelly, or marmalade at home and use a fruit that is low in pectin, you will need to add 3:1 or 2:1 Gelier Zucker, but if you use a fruit that is high in pectin, you can use 1:1 Gelier Zucker. What this means is that if the fruit has a lower amount of natural pectin, you need to compensate for it by using Gelier Zucker which is high in pectin, and if the fruit is already high in pectin, you can use Gelier Zucker which is low in pectin.
E.g.: For apple jam, use Gelier Zucker 1plus1 ( because apple is high in pectin). i.e. for every one portion of apples, you must use one portion of Gelier Zucker.
For strawberry jam, use Gelier Zucker 3plus1 ( because strawberries are low in pectin). i.e. for every three portions of strawberries, you must use one portion of Gelier Zucker.
Very ripe fruits also need 3:1 or 2:1 Gelier Zucker.
Please note that since in 3:1 and 2:1 Gelier Zucker, the proportion of fruit is more than that of sugar, the end product is less sweet and has a lower shelf life. Therefore, these have preservatives added to increase the shelf life.
Now, I shall show you an example of the standard process to make jam. I have shown it with apples. You can use any fruit of your choice and use Gelier Zucker as per the guidelines above.
- Knives: https://amzn.to/3Lg64Bj
- Chopping Board: https://amzn.to/3K0dh8L
- Pan: https://amzn.to/43H0SOr
Ingredients needed for making Apple Jam:
- Apples: 5
- Jam Sugar (Gelier Zucker in German) 1plus1: 1 1/2 cups
Method for making apple jam at home:
- Peel and cut the apples.
- Then, chop them into small pieces in a food processor.
- In a pan, cook the apples for about 5 minutes.
- Then add jam sugar and cook for 13-15 minutes on medium heat.
- Then, take it out and let it cool.
- Once it cools completely, transfer it to a clean and dry jar and keep it in the fridge till further use.
You can also check out the recipe for Rhubarb and Ginger Jam that I made during the spring when Rhubarb is harvested and available in supermarkets.
You can read a detailed article on Gelier Zucker here.
To identify and understand products in German supermarkets, click here.
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