Foam in Home Jam Making - What It Is and What To Do About It!
This month's notes: April 2014: Spring is just around the corner. Strawberries are here in Florida, Texas and California, next in late March and April for much of the South, then in May for most of the country and June in cooler northern areas. See how easy it is to make strawberry jam or strawberry-rhubarb jam!
What To Do About the Foam on Your Jam!Your are happily making jam, following the direction in a book or box of pectin... until it says "skim the foam, or add 1 teaspoon of butter to prevent foaming". Foam? Foaming? What is it? Does your jam have rabies?
Nope, the foam is just the result of bubbles from the boiling jam coming up through the viscous jam. Just like a child blowing bubbles, the boiling jam produces bubbles.
Why remove it?
Well, it just doesn't taste very good. It doesn't taste bad, but it is not the consistency most people like in jam. It certainly won't hurt you, though. It might somewhat shorten the storage life of the jam. According to Janet Hackert, Nutrition Specialist, Northwest Region at the University of Missouri Extension:
Foam contains a lot of air. In canning, the jars are not filled to the top of the jar. This gap between the lid and the food is called head space and it gives the canned food room to “breathe.” The food can expand during processing and form a vacuum as the jar cools. Foam in a jar of jam increases the head space. According to the Food Safety Information Service, this is not a problem if the jam is stored in a cool place and is eaten relatively soon. The extra head space does increase the chance of the jam molding after prolonged storage though.
What can I do about the foam
Besides making a B-grade horror movies with it, You can either prevent it or remove it.
1 teaspoon of butter, margarine or vegetable oil, added before you heat the mixture will almost eliminate it. On the downside, some food scientists worry that the small amount of butter could cause the batch to spoil sooner. I suspect this particular group of scientists probably still live at home...
When I forget to add the butter (about 50% of the time), I just wait till I remove the jam from the heat, let it sit for a minute or two and then skim the foam off with a ladle.
I save the foam in a microwavable container. See below for why!
What can I do with the foam?
When I am done making jam for the day, I usually have about 1 cup of congealed foam. Looks a lot like a healthy lung. That's not very appealing to most people, so....
Just pop it into a microwave for 30 to 60 seconds or so on high. Be sure to watch it the entire time, or it may boil over. You want to get it hot again and to boil up a bit.
Once you remove it and it cools, it will look, act and taste like regular jam again! Rather than attempting to put this back into a batch for canning, this is the jam I stick in the fridge to use fresh!
Blake's Easy and Illustrated Jam and Ice Cream Directions
I've got some other pages for specific types of jam, too:
- How to make berry jams (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, loganberry, mixed berry, etc.)
- How to make apple jelly
- How to make blueberry jam
- How to make apricot, peach, plum or nectarine jam.
- How to make fig jam
- NEW! How to make grape jelly from fresh grapes
- NEW! How to make muscadine or scuppernong jelly
- How to make orange marmalade
- Other jam recipes and jelly recipes.
- What happens if my jam or jelly doesn't gel? Remaking cooked runny jam or jelly instructions can be found on this page
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Home Canning Kits
This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer, and the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. You'll never need anything else except jars & lids (and the jars are reusable)! There is also s simple kit with just the canner and rack, and a pressure canner, if your want to do vegetables (other than tomatoes). To see more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!
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Canning & Preserving for Dummies
The Ball Blue Book of Preserving
This is THE book on canning! My grandmother used this book when I was a child. It tells you in simple instructions how to can almost anything; complete with recipes for jam, jellies, pickles, sauces, canning vegetables, meats, etc. If it can be canned, this book likely tells you how! Click on the link below for more information and / or to buy (no obligation to buy)
Summary - Typical Cost of Making Homemade Jam - makes 8 jars, 8 oz each**
|Item||Quantity||Cost in 2006||Source||Subtotal|
|Berries (strawberries)||1 gallon||$8.00/gallon||Pick your own||$8.00|
|Canning jars (8 oz size), includes lids and rings||18 jars||$7.00/dozen||Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway and sometimes, Big Lots, local hardware stores and big box stores||$10.00|
|Sugar||4 cups||$2.00||Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway and sometimes, Big Lots, local hardware stores and big box stores||$2.00|
|Pectin (low sugar, dry)||1 and a third boxes *||$2.00 per box||Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway and sometimes, Big Lots, local hardware stores and big box stores||$2.70|
or about $1.25 per jar
|* pectin use varies - blackberry
jam needs very little, raspberry a little more, strawberry the most.
** - This assumes you already have the pots, pans, ladles, and reusable equipment. Note that you can reuse the jars and reduce the cost further; just buy new lids (the rings are reusable, but the flat lids are not)!
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