on July 3, 2012
AMAZING! Is what I would call this jam and jelly maker. I have to say I was a little disappointed when I couldn't use my recipes but once I adjusted my recipes to the principle recipes provided, I have outstanding results! Peach Jam can be made into to peach lavender with just a few adjustments. Pear jam can even more easily be made into pear rosemary jam by just adding a bit of rosemary. Unfortunately the strawberry season is over otherwise I would try my strawberry margarita twist on their strawberry jam.
Even better, little mess and no burns! I love this machine, I can't wait to see how the fair judges rate the jams and jellies. Since posting this review, I won Grand Champion at the county fair for the raspberry jam. Is this cheating???
Since posting this review, I have used the machine many, many times and have adapted these recipes that I want to share.
As with the strawberry jam options in the recipe booklet, make other options. Just follow the basic recipe and make the adjustments from your favorite recipies. I generally make the low sugar option:
Peach Lavendar Jam:
Steap 2 Tbls. lavendar buds for 20 minutes in 1.3 cup boiling water. Drain and reserve water (and half the buds, if desired). I use a coffee filter to strain. Put the reserved water (and buds) into the maker when you add the peaches.
Peach Amaretto Jam:
Add 2 Tbls. of Amaretto liquor after the peach jam after the machine has signaled that the jam is complete.
Add 2 tsp. finely chopped rosemary when adding the pears to the machine. I have also put in one cup of honey in place of one cup of sugar, which gives the result more like the stove top version. The gel is slightly softer, but still yummy.
Blanch, seed, and crush Roma tomatoes to make the required measurement for low sugar fruit (3 1/4 cups). I put the tomatoes through a food mill on the largest setting. Use the basic recipe with pectin and Tbls lemon juice, etc. Add 2 Tbls of chopped basil when the machine indicates that the jam is complete.
Blackberry Brandy or other liquor:
Follow the recipe for berry jam and add 2 Tbls. of Brandy, orange liquor or Amaretto when the machine indicates that the jam is finished.
Using the basic fruit recipe, I have subtituted apricots for peaches. I used about nine small apricots. If you want to make it a bit spicy add 1/2 tsp. nutmeg.
Apricot Habanjero Jam:
Put a bit of apricot and one habanjero in the blender and chop. Add to remaining apricots and start the jam.
Peach Melba (peach/raspberry) Jam:
This is a pint of raspberries and about 5 medium peaches for 3 1/4 cups. Switch out half the peach with raspberries, seeded or unseeded. The unseeded look prettier in the jar!
Peach Blackberry Jam:
One pint blackberries and about 5 medium peaches finely chopped in place of the peaches.
Pear Ginger Jam:
Add 2 Tbls fresh ginger, finely chopped or 1/4 cup candied ginger finely chopped to the peach jam recipe.
Pear Vanilla Jam:
Add the scrapings from one vanilla bean and 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract when you put the pears in the machine.
All I have time to type now. Happy jammin!
Ok a few more recipes:
Strawberry Margarita Jam:
Using the strawberry jam recipe in the booklet, substitute lime juice for lemon juice, add 1/4 cup tequila, 1 Tbls Triple Sec and 1 tsp shredded lime peel.
Orange Marmalade: (grand champion 2013)
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups of sugar
3 TBLS classic pectin
1 cup water
Using a potato peeler, peel orange rind off the four oranges. With a spoon, scrape any white pith remaining on peel. With scissors, cut peel in small pieces and place in pot with water. Peel lemons and slice very thinly removing any seeds. Put sliced lemons in pot with orange peel. Add baking soda and boil for 20 minutes. Drain water from lemons and orange peel. I use a coffee filter. While the peels are boiling, remove all white pith from orange, break into segments and remove seeds. Place oranges in blender and pulse until juice. Pour oranges into pot with peels/lemons and simmer for 25 minutes. Prepare jam maker with 3 TBLS pectin evenly in the bottom. Measure out 3 1/3 cups orange mixture. Add orange juice if more is needed. Pour orange mixture into maker, press jam. Pour sugar into the machine when alarm sounds. Do not put the lid on as this tends to boil over or watch it closely.
Lemon Rosemary Jam:
1.5 lbs lemons
1/4 tsp baking soda
4 sprigs rosemary
2 cups sugar
3 TBLS classic pectin
Using a potato peeler, peel lemon rinds. With a spoon,scrape any white pith remaining on the peel, with scissors, cut peel in small pieces and place in pot with one cup of water and baking soda. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain peels. I use a coffee filter. Repeat with 1 cup of fresh water. Drain again. While the peels are cooking, peel all white pith off lemons and thinly slice lemons and remove seeds. Add lemons to drained peels with3 cups of water. Cook for 20 minutes. Measure 3 1/4 lemon mixture. Add lemon juice if needed. Prepare mixer with pectin on bottom. Pour the lemon mixture over the pectin. When the alarm sounds add sugar. With 5 minutes left in the timer, added minced rosemary.
You can use this over pork or chicken as well as a jam. Delicious.
Add an extra tablespoon of lemon juice and the zest of a lemon to the berry recipe using blackberries.
Add and extra tablespoon of lemon juice and the zest of one lemon to the berry recipe using blueberries.
Triple Berry Jam
One large package of frozen berries generally is 3 1/3 cups thawed. Used basic low sugar berry recipe.
Pear Orange Jam:
Add 1 TBLS Grand Manier or other orange liqueur to pear jam.
1 pkg frozen sliced strawberries in light syrup thawed
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 large orange
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs pectin
1 TBLS orange liqueur or frozen orange juice concentrate
Dab of butter
Zest orange. Remove remaining peel and seed orange. Coarsely chop orange and cranberries in food processor. Place pectin in the bottom of jam maker as usual. Evenly pour strawberries and orange/cranberry mixture over pectin. Add butter to reduce foam. Start machine. Pour sugar in when beep sounds. Add orange zest and orange liqueur when jam in finished before placing in jars. Watch lid as it can boil over. Makes a bit more than 5 half pint jars.
on February 7, 2015
This is information I'd have liked before I made my decision on these automated jammers. (I've become a fan, by the way.) This is half-review, half-recommendation for how to use these jammers to maximize yield.
I BOUGHT TWO AND COMPARED...
I bought 2 auto-jammers and ran them side by side for a month. All told, I made 12 dozen half-pints via auto-jammer, and 12 dozen half-pints of the same jams, using the traditional stove-top method. I looked for differences in quality, pectin-sugar ratios, time, and/or effort.
I MADE THESE JAMS
I made these jams in both auto-jammers and using the traditional stove-top method:
Apricot-Nectarine with hint of Raspberry
Rockin' Apricot (with tart White Peach)
(I made other jams but didn't compare them side by side by method.)
Here's the upshot of all that experimentation:
BATCH SIZE & BOIL OVERS.
I experimented with these batch sizes:
1.5x batch: Easy peasy. No boilovers with any fruits.
2x batch: Watch the pot closely in the last few minutes -- that's when the foam typically starts, and the volume rises. If you see an impending boil over, just lift the lid for 1 to 4 seconds. This typically reduces the foam immediately. With some fruits, you might need to stir a bit to keep the foam down for the last few seconds. When working solely with apricots, nectarines, and peaches, I had a volume rise each time that required a fast response and at least 1 minute of stirring to keep the foam down and prevent that boil over.
2.5x batch: Be careful. A batch this big tends to boil up to the rim. Stay close to the machine for the last 5 minutes, and watch for that sudden rise. Note that, because I use less sugar, I can run a 2.5x batch, not just a 2x batch.
3x batch: Not recommended. Boil over is pretty much guaranteed, with a lot of clean-up time. I had one 3x batch boil over before I could stop it, and managed two 3x batches -- barely -- without boil overs, but frankly, you're just too close to the lip with this batch size. It's too dicey trying to keep the foam/volume under control.
One more thing: Be careful. The biggest issue with larger batches is lifting the pot off the heater when the jam is still at high volume and scalding hot.
Running 2x to 2.5x batches, my yield was a constant 10 to 11 half-pints per jammer, with a little extra; or 5 full pints plus a scant half-pint.
You need to add the sugar quickly. This is a chemistry issue, and doesn't matter if you're using an auto-jammer or doing traditional jamming. When doing a 2x or 2.5x batch, there's a lot of sugar to mix in, and it lumps up. Technically, yes, it will melt in when the temperature rises. However, it takes longer for the temperature to rise with a 2x batch, which means you have fruit-coated 'dumplings' of sugar rolling around for a long time. Not good. I pour about 1-1/2 C sugar in a circle around the center spindle, then lightly whisk or stir to help mix that in. Then pour in the next cup, mix that in. Etc. It adds about a minute of stirring (to what would have been an automated process for the recommended tiny batch size).
If you do larger batches and stir in the sugar:
- Stir in the direction the paddles are moving
- Do not to interfere with the paddles themselves
- Do not scrape the pot -- the non-stick coating is thin and cheap
There is no reason to oversugar your jams. I use a fruit-to-sugar ratio of roughly 5:4, with a little more or less sugar depending on the fruit. I get a set every time. In my experience with these auto-jammers (as well as with the traditional stove-top process), there's no reason to go overboard on the sugar or worry about special ratios.
There is no reason to use special pectin. I get a set every time using standard powdered, inexpensive MCP pectin.
WHEN AND HOW TO ADD THE PECTIN
The instructions say, sprinkle pectin in pot, then add fruit.
Letting pectin sit on top of a heating element is not, in my opinion, a good idea -- especially if you use the jammers to capacity. Heat is your friend in canning, but too much heat can destroy those long pectin chains instead of activating them to form. The key really is the strength and speed of the paddles. They're designed for smaller batches of jam. That makes me uncomfortable trusting them to completely mix the pectin in a larger batch. I experimented, and my recommendation is to mix the pectin with the fruit first, then added that mix to the jammer. This adds no effort, since you already have to mash and mix your fruit.
With a 1.5x, 2x, and 2.5x batch, I get a strong steady simmer at 21 minutes (but not a full boil). At 23 to 24 minutes, I always get a strong rolling boil. Only once, while working with apricots and peaches, did I need 25 minutes.
Here's the issue: You cannot immediately re-use the jammer. You cannot cancel and reset, or just program more time. (Others have noted this.) The heating element has to cool before you can set up again. This can leave you with a partly-boiled jam, and a rush to the stove top to bring up the heat there.
I STRONGLY recommend that you always program at least 1 extra minute for small batches (1.5x), and 3 to 4 extra minutes for 2x or larger batches. Watch the jam for the last few minutes to manage any boil-overs. You can always cancel any last time on the machine after you take the pot off the heating element.
TIMING AND USING TWO JAMMERS
I found that having two auto-jammers side by side was great. By the time I finished processing the fruit for one jammer, the other was done. By the time I finished ladeling, cleaning, lidding, and putting those jars in the water bath, the second jammer was done. I was able to run both jammers and my stove jam pot for 6 to 8 hours at a time, with no let-up. Very efficient -- which is important when you're working with large quantities of soft fruits like raspberries, strawberries, apricots, and peaches.
PROS, or why I love the auto-jammer:
1) These have saved my broken feet and tendonitis hands from a lot of pain. It's one of those appliances that I look at now and think, however did I get along without it?
2) Lets you experiment without getting out your entire array of canning equipment. I would not have tried out some combos if I hadn't had the option of making small, experimental batches.
3) Kind of fun to try out the new technology. When it comes right down to it, what was I really doing by myself? A wooden flat-edge spoon, powered by my forearm, vs. a non-stick paddle powered by Portland General Electric... I have to admit, they didn't do a half-bad job.
4) Not too large -- fits on standard kitchen shelf. It's about the size of a crock pot or rice steamer.
5) Not heavy. I have extreme tendonitis in my hands, and I can move this around easily.
6) Easy clean-up. Non-stick surfaces rinse easily, clean easily.
7) Appears to make jam as well as I can -- I'm a little offended by that. All those decades in the tradition of my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother... Faithfully stirring and checking and sweating in the steam of my biggest stock pot while jamming, and I'm now getting the same raves from the auto-jammer jam that I always get from my stove-top jam. I'm somewhat annoyed. But not enough to stop using the jammers. They're that useful.
1) Cheaply made. The non-stick surface is THIN, and can be easily damaged. I don't know how long these will last. Since the base connection is proprietary, there's no way to swap out a better non-stick pot for the fitted pot.
2) Recommended batch size is ridiculously small. And it takes nearly the same amount of time to make 3 half pints in the auto-jammer as it does to make 16 PINTS in a normal process. (Dump fruit in large bowl; mash; pour.) I make jam for the year, for daily use, Christmas presents, hostess gifts, thank-you's, and shameless bribes. My friends sneak jam from my pantry, so even more disappears when I turn my back. I need to make a lot of jam. So if you're doing this as a hobby, a one-off, or to decorate your delightful dinner party, then going to all the effort for three tiny jars might be fine. If you're putting up the harvest or making the year's allotment of jam, it's wasteful and inefficient. If I hadn't bought two auto-jammers, I'd probably have panned the one as yet another useless appliance for people who have too much kitchen space. As it is, I'm a reluctant fan.
3) Burned jam: If you do larger batches, be AWARE: Once I did see a little scorch on the bottom of the pot. Easy enough to avoid while ladeling, and it didn't affect the flavor of the jam.
4) Cheap lid that falls apart. The screw that holds the handle on is too short. The action of lifting the lid actually loosens the screw. Three times in the first few days, the screw fell out, and the lid threw itself on the floor -- with tiny parts, nearly transparent rubber gasket, etc., flying everywhere. Made me really angry, since I was in the middle of canning (why else would I lift the lid?). I didn't have time to deal with a self-disassembling lid while managing the boil and the timing. Half a penny for a longer screw would have solved the problem. Ball should be ashamed at their cheap, cost-cutting idiocy. As it is, I have had to put a Phillips head screwdriver in my canning box to keep tightening the lids before each use.
I bought my first two from Chef's, not Amazon. At the time, the price was the same, but Chef's offered a better guarantee. Amazon's price is now $20 less than Chef's, with free shipping, so I'll be buying my next unit from Amazon.
As a hands-on cook, I'm embarrassed to say I love these appliances and highly recommend them. I bought two, and am planning to buy another as a backup. I don't want to go through another canning / jamming season without them.
- 5 stars for function
- 5 stars for design
- 3 stars for recommended batch size
- 3 stars for quality
a) If you make a lot of jam and have to process fruit as it becomes available (typically all at once), buy 2 jammers, not one. Yes, it really is worth it.
b) For any larger batch, stir the pectin into the fruit before you pour the fruit in the jammer.
c) Always add 2 to 3 minutes extra when programming the unit so you're not caught short.
d) Use only wooden utensils (or rubberized whisk) so you don't scratch the cheap non-stick coating. Wash with a soft sponge, not a scrubber.
e) Buy a nice wine to enjoy while the jammer does all the work...
on September 5, 2012
I am a big sucker for kitchen gadgets. I just love them. Unfortunately, we don't have unlimited storage space (who does?) and so if I get a new gadget, an old one has to go, and that means the new one better deliver. I got this (and donated an old crock-pot to my son's school) because I have recently started preserving, and wanted to see if it really made the jam process easier. I think it does! And I think you will too!
Here are the differences in processes between the first time I made jam without the machine, and then with the machine:
Making jam WITHOUT JAM MAKER:
- Mash up fruit.
- Put in pan.
- Stir in pectin and then sugar.
- Watch like a hawk to make sure mixture doesn't boil over.
- Mixture boils over anyway. Oops.
- Spend 15 minutes cleaning up red-hot, sticky strawberry jam from all over the stovetop. Burn self. Curse loudly. Don't get all the jam cleaned up, bits of sticky jam will adhere to things that come near the stove for several days afterward.
- Put jam back on stove. Near boil-overs happen several more times, despite low heat on burner. Skim foam. Skim foam. Skim foam. Finally jam is at gelling point.
- Process jam in jars.
- Spend 20 minutes soaking and scrubbing jam-making pot that has crusty, sticky, scummy jam on it. Break fingernails. Curse loudly.
Making jam WITH JAM MAKER
- Mash up fruit.
- Put in maker. Sprinkle pectin on top.
- Turn on machine. Wait for four-minute beep. Add sugar.
- Go watch Breaking Bad on DVR for 17 minutes.
- Jam maker beeps, jam is done! Skim small amount of foam.
- Process jam in jars.
- Pan, lid and stirrer from jam maker clean up in about 5 minutes.
See? So much easier. Much less cursing.
I am not any kind of master preserver, but have been doing it for some years as I was taught to do it by my grandfather when I was a kid. There's nothing like fresh jam from fresh, organic produce. It tastes better, you can adjust the taste to suit yourself, and you control every aspect of the manufacturing process. It's fun, and now, with the jam maker, it's really easy. If you love to make jam and jelly, I highly recommend it. I wish my grandpa was still around to see this, I bet he would love it!
on July 31, 2012
Bought the FreshTECH jam & jelly maker yesterday at a brick and mortar store that had it on sale for $79. I was convinced by the unanimous five-star reviews on Amazon. I'm going to ruin this product's perfect record, though. I was disappointed upon opening the box and carefully looking for documentation. There was none. Zero. Zilch. Not even how to assemble the lid, which luckily wasn't that difficult. But you do need some basic instructions to know how to use the product. Half a star off for that. I found the web site freshpreserving.com listed on the box, so was able to get basic instructions and recipes there, but buyers shouldn't have to do that.
The most serious issue for my use, though, is the batch size and the instructions to "process immediately" after ladling into jars. This is OK for freezer jams/jellies and for those that will only be refrigerated. But if you want to make canned jams, which IMHO are much more convenient as gifts, then processing only four cups at a time in a large hot-water bath canner is very inefficient. Another half star off for that. I'll probably only use it for freezer or refrigerator jams from now on, going back to the often painful process of cooking jam on the stovetop for canning.
Other than that, no complaints. The jams produced were excellent. I used Ball's "RealFruit Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin," even though the documentation I downloaded doesn't specify which RealFruit pectin to use (there are several choices). Using one cup sugar and one cup no-calorie sweetener (maltodextrin/sucralose) per batch, wild blackberry jam tastes pretty much like wild blackberries.
UPDATE: I'm updating my review from four to five stars, same as all the other reviewers (so far). My first half-point deduction, for no documentation, was handled nicely by Ball/Jarden, including sending me a $5 coupon. Thanks, I used it. My second criticism, regarding inconvenient batch size, was easily handled by buying a smaller canner. Duh! Been using a large canner so long, it just didn't occur to me to get a smaller pot with the appropriate rack. I now have one that cans four regular or wide-mouth jars at a time, plus it heats faster than the big one and fits nicely on the range. Perfect!
on June 23, 2012
We just finished our first batch of jelly in our new FreshTech Jam & Jelly Maker. Closely following the enclosed recipe, our efforts yielded two pints of grape jelly. The smell of cooking grapes brought back memories of an ungodly hot, humid Midwest August kitchen from my youth when mother spent weeks putting up jar after jar of jellies and vegetables fresh from the market. Crowding her canning into a few short weeks to take full advantage of seasonal fresh fruit and produce available only a brief time. All deliciously enjoyed in cold winter months, but paid for with weeks of gruelling 14-hour days and heat prostration. A stark contrast to the leisurely, enjoyable effort with the FreshTech Jam & Jelly Maker. Indeed, the same afternoon, our second effort resulted in two pints of pepper jelly.
Allowing jellies to cool, we cut slices of homemade bread, anxious to sample our efforts. Smells like jelly. First bite, good. Has the consistency of jelly. Second bite, really good. Definitely jelly! Third bite, DELICIOUS! Great jelly! Between bites we planned future jams and jellies in our FreshTech Jam & Jelly Maker. Strawberry! Plum! Apple! Pear! Peach! Raspberry! Citrus! Hot pepper jelly! Made with fresh fruit in season, frozen fruit in off season. Our own jams and jellies whenever we want! Gifts for holidays! But best of all, no more of the store-bought small jars of expensive, overly sugared, under flavored stuff we've come to accept as jam and jelly. Congratulations! You have a full flavored, easily prepared, even easier to use, enjoyable winner!