No, not Jamaica, fruit is officially on the vines, so we are readying ourselves for another season of jam-making.
Last year's season was disappointing to say the least. We started with aspirations of jam and ended up with syrup (in strawberry, blueberry, and peach varieties).
Where did we go wrong?
I prefer to use three simple ingredients in my jam: fruit, sugar, and lemon juice (acidity is integral to jam's ability to gel). Pectin (natural or otherwise) is a simple way to make sure your jam sets up nicely, but I dislike the green apple aftertaste it can hint at.
I believe that our soft set was disrupted by spooning the hot jam into jars, then all the handling that goes into processing the jars. The jam's crystalline bonds were less resilient that I believed. What worked for me previously in small batches was too fragile at the scaled-up level to work (e.g. 30 half-pints at a time).
This year, based on what I have learned from poppy candy-making, once the jam gels, I think I will allow it to come to room temperature before scooping into jars and processing. We'll see how it works out.
To learn more about jam-making, This and That Jam is providing a quick demonstration tonite at Fullsteam Brewery at 8PM for their Kickstarter fundraiser.