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I made my Opa's chunky homemade jam that only calls for 3 ingredients, and it's the perfect sweet treat to top off any breakfast

Insider
Insider
 2022-01-24

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Turning the jam upside down is apparently a very important part to this recipe.
  • My Opa, meaning grandfather in Dutch, has been making his own jam for years and it's pretty amazing.
  • His recipe for jam, which he says can also be called a "fruit spread," only has three ingredients.
  • But Opa's jam is slightly different to others — for one, there's no boiling involved.
My Opa, Dutch for grandpa, has been making his own jam for as long as I can remember.
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Opa loves his jam.

My sisters and I have always said that one of the best parts of visiting my Opa and Oma is eating food. Whether it be cheese or home-cooked steak and fries, food and family are inextricably linked for us.

But there's one item we talk about missing non-stop: Opa's homemade jam. We love it, not just because he makes it himself, but because it's genuinely way better than any store-bought jams.

It's chunkier, super sugary, and goes perfectly on sweet or savory foods. It may sound a little out there, but a spoonful of this jam on top of a slice of Gouda cheese is heaven – trust me.

It's been a while since I've had the chance to visit my grandparents, so I decided to attempt to recreate Opa's jam for the first time by myself.
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Pectin, frozen fruit, and cane sugar are all you need for this recipe.

There are only three ingredients needed for Opa's jam recipe:

  • 2 pounds of frozen fruit mix
  • One pound of raw cane sugar
  • Instant Pectin

According to Opa, his jam, which he also calls a "fruit spread," is different from others because you can skip the step of boiling the fruit mixture — he says this helps keep "all the vitamins."

To make sure I had the right measurements for the recipe, I started by weighing the raw cane sugar.
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I was just five grams off of the full pound of raw cane sugar.

I thought I bought sufficient ingredient quantities, but decided it would probably be smart to whip out a scale to ensure I was following the recipe correctly. This is when I bumped into a hiccup — not enough raw sugar cane.

I bought two cups of raw cane sugar, and the combination of both came out to a weight of 448 grams, around five grams less than the pound needed for Opa's recipe.

But I figured less sugar wouldn't make too much of a taste difference and might even help it be slightly healthier — although there's nothing wrong with indulging once in a while.

Up next was adding pectin and until this very moment, I'd never heard of it before.
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I used one sachet of pectin.

The pectin available at my local grocery store was powder-based but I'm not sure if using liquid would change anything. As someone who had no idea what pectin even was, I had questions about why it was going in the recipe.

It turns out pectin, according to Healthline , is a fiber found in fruits that acts as a thickener and is regularly added to commercial jams and jellies. Who knew? Not me.

Important note — my Opa's recipe specifically calls for a whole jar of Ball RealFruit Instant Pectin , which I couldn't find at the store. I did find it available on Amazon, priced at £9.99, or around $13.60.

I was so curious about pectin I couldn't help giving it a try. Heads up, don't eat pectin by itself.
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Pectin by itself is pretty gross.

Don't try pectin by itself, trust me. The flavor is sour and sort of bland, but worse, it can apparently cause stomach aches and digestion issues if consumed by itself, according to WebMD. I only had a small taste but thought I would share for anyone else like me who can't help but try everything going into a recipe.

I also read the label of the pectin I bought, which said one sachet was enough for three to four standard jam jars — perfect for the number of jars I had at home.

Next up was adding two pounds of frozen fruit, which I did bit by bit in order to let the sugary pectin mix get incorporated.
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Partially add the fruit and keep mixing so the cane sugar gets incorporated

Opa is pretty flexible when it comes to the type of frozen fruit in the recipe so you can really use anything from a mixed fruit medley to a single type, such as strawberry or blueberry.

At this point, I started to get a little worried I was doing something wrong because it was taking a while for the frozen fruit to incorporate with the dry sugar cane and pectin mix.

I would advise adding the fruit bit by bit, stirring between additions, so you can really make sure everything is coated equally.

My Opa said the mixing process would take three minutes. I don't know how he's doing it because it took me around 10 minutes to get it looking somewhat ready to be jarred.
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Opa said to just "cruise" the fruit slightly — I took that to mean either "crush" or "bruise."

Although Opa said this step would take just three minutes, I found myself mixing the fruit for upwards of 10 minutes, tasting it along the way and until the juicy parts contained less noticeable lumps of sugar.

I kept thinking there needed to be some water involved in the mix because it seems quite dense but after calling my dad, who was visiting my Opa at the time, he said not to add anything and to just keep mixing.

Eventually, it started to resemble jam with the tell-tale congealed texture.

Once I felt the jam was sufficiently mixed, I added it to my jars and scooped up sugary liquid remnants from the bottom of the bowl.
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The recipe made enough jam for a large jar and a small jar.

Opa's recipe makes the perfect amount for one standard jam jar — mine was a cleaned-out, used Bonne Maman jar — and one large jar.

My large jar is around six and a half inches tall, and three and a half inches wide.

The final step before your jam is ready to be refrigerated and tasted is letting it sit upside down for a few hours. Opa said this helps keep the large chunks of fruit from sinking to the bottom.
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Next up is to leave the jars upside down for a few hours.

At this point in Opa's recipe, all he said is to "put in jam pots and let pots stand upside down for few hours." I initially didn't understand the purpose behind this step so I reached out to him for an explanation.

According to Opa, this helps the large chunks of fruit, which he said not to crush, to stay close to the top of the jar. Otherwise, they would sink to the bottom. He also said it helps the result become a bit less "juicy."

After my timer went off two hours later, I put my jam in the fridge and came to check on it the next morning at around 8 a.m. for breakfast.
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The best part of the jam for me is the delicious chunks of fruit.

What I love most about this jam is how you can literally see the fruit it's made of. While Opa's recipe is a bit vague, he does make it pretty clear that the fruit shouldn't be crushed up and should recognizably be fruit when you eat it.

The end result was delicious, though a little more watery than I remember from my Opa's own jam. If I make it again, I think getting Opa's recommended pectin would probably help let it set a bit more, but otherwise, the flavor was all there.

The blackberries and raspberries were still tart and a little sour but the strawberries were perfectly sweet.

Breakfast was such a treat, and it definitely made me respect my Opa's hobby of jam-making.
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Breakfast this morning was a little sweeter.

There's nothing more satisfying than eating something delicious that took a little bit of labor and that tastes so good.

For my first proper meal with my very own version of Opa's jam, I scooped a few spoonfuls on top of some Greek yogurt, sliced banana, and granola – it was perfect.

Because the jam is uncooked, it'll probably keep for around three weeks in the refrigerator. I made quite a bit so I've gotten an important request from my sister to drop some off at hers — and I can't wait to hear what she thinks.

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