Mixed Fruit Jam is a delectable fruit preserve sweet. Generally, we make it using several fruits; and it is sweet & tangy.
This sweet spread is an inseparable part of most people’s childhood days. I still remember my school days when, on few days, this was in my tiffin box spread on slices of bread. Even though I am not a big fan of sweet food, I still looked forward to eating it during recess.
Even now, this comes in handy when I cannot have a complete meal but still want to fill my stomach. Although, however, some eat it during breakfast, and I have it as a snack.
A Brief History of Jam
The origin of jam is highly debatable here. No one can precisely state when it came into existence.
Some jam-making methods date back as long as from the stone age. The preserves were because the food was scarce at that time. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. Hence, due to the discovery of the food preservation method, jams came into existence.
In ancient times, using honey and sugar was a popular way to preserve food since honey has no moisture. The Greeks were also using this method often.
However, the first-ever jam recipe written in an official cookbook was De Re Coquinaria (The Art of Cooking) by Marcus Gavius Apicius from Rome in the 4th century AD. Therefore, this makes jam falls into the continental food category.
Another interesting fact related to jam was from Napoleon’s time. He is responsible for jam’s large-scale production, as this was initially for the upper class only. As a result, only famous personalities or rich people were able to enjoy this sweet delight.
He offered to reward those who can find a way to preserve food for his soldiers in 1785. Inventor Nicholas Appert bagged that reward by discovering that boiling food at high temperatures and sealing it in an airtight container can preserve it. It is also how preservation methods for most of the foods came into existence.
Taste & Texture of Mixed Fruit Jam
Pectin is a fibre found in fruits, and an agent used explicitly as a thickener in foods. Since we are not using that in addition, our jam will not be too firm or be a little jelly-like. Instead, it will be a bit lose, resembling a marmalade- minus the fruit chunks.
The sweet taste is because of the sugar present in it. But it will also have a tad bit of fruit tanginess as an aftertaste. That taste is thanks to the use of fruits like orange and grape. Lemon juice or lemon zest is excellent when it comes to elevating the tanginess of the jam.
Which Fruits To Use in Mixed Fruit Jam?
Now you must be wondering exactly which fruits to use to assemble your yummy jam? The answer is anything you want. Yes, you read that correctly!
Generally, strawberries are the most preferred fruit to make jam. And hence strawberry jam is more common. But since it is a mixed fruit jam, then we are going to use multiple fruits here.
Fruits containing pectin are preferable to make this jam. Therefore, sour apples, oranges, grapes, pomegranate, cranberries, etc., are more used.
Even so, you can balance it with low pectin fruits like peaches, blueberries, pineapples, guavas, etc. By the way, strawberries are also low on pectin but have sufficient acid. Henceforth, strawberry jams contain a high amount of added pectin.
Ingredients of Mix Fruit Jam
Technically, we should use only two ingredients in mixed fruit jams. Yup! Just two. Namely fruits and sugar.
But of course, if we list down all the fruits one by one, individually, they are more than two.
Sugar is, of course, used here to sweeten the jam. But it is not the only reason it is included.
As stated before, sugar is in use to make jams since ancient times. It acts as a preservative & increases the shelf life.
Furthermore, pectin is not enough to gel up the cooked fruits. Sugar syrup plays a significant role here, then. Less water along with sugar syrup is thick enough. So, sugar, along with pectin, makes the jam more thick and firm.
Sugar-free jams are also an available option. But without the sugar, not just the taste will be different; but the shelf life of this product will be dramatically low.
As mentioned above, fruits that are pectin-based and contain acid are preferable in making mixed fruit jam. However, most of those fruits are tangy or less sweet in flavour. So it becomes inevitable to add sugar then.
Usually, in measure to the fruits, 50% of its sugar is in use. But it reduces to 25% or 30% of the measure of fruits.
We need to clean the fruits thoroughly. Then we need to cut and blend all the fruits.
If you would like to have bits and chunks of fruits, you can not blend them thoroughly. Or another option would be to add them separately while cooking them. In other words, this would be similar to a fruit compote.
We cook fruits for fruit jams. Or you can boil them as well. The key here is to break the components and structure of the fruits, making them soft.
In turn, it makes the concentration of sugar more. And it let the sugar work its magic in hardening the pulp and setting it into a jelly-like texture.
Storing Our Mixed Fruit Jam
If you are making this jam at home, then naturally, it will be pectin-free. So, it is best to refrigerate it. Storing it in a cool place will help in keeping it firm and store for an extended period.
An airtight jar is a must for storing it. Also, if you are using a glass jar for it, it will be better if you sterilise the container. Also, dry it before storing the jam.
Just the way Nicholas Appert discovered boiling foods at a high temperature and storing them in an airtight jar will keep them from spoiling for a longer time.
Please, do not use jars that have moulds growing on them. If stored similarly, the jam will be edible to use for a year.
That is it for mixed fruit jams.