Product Review: Pomona’s Universal Pectin
I be jammin’ again.
It’s insane, I don’t really know what’s gotten into me…first there were the $1.99 sweet cherries at Whole Foods last week. Then once I did that I just wanted to do more. And I’d volunteered to donate several jars of homemade jam for a silent auction next week…it’s not like I don’t have plenty of jars of jam already to donate, but I wanted to make more.
For the cherry-balsamic jam I used a basic box of ordinary pectin, the stuff you find on the shelf at the hardware store where you buy the jars. Behaved exactly the way it was supposed to, but honestly the final product is sweeter than I like, almost so sweet it overpowers the cherry and definitely obscures the little balsamic ting. So when I found the apricots on sale at the produce place, and I went looking for more pectin, I wound up at Whole Foods buying a box of this previously unknown stuff called “Pomona’s Universal Pectin.” I sort of shrugged and went, “erm…okay, why not?” and bought it.
BEST choice ever. I promise here and now that I will never ever ever ever buy the basic ordinary hardware store pectin again.
What you need to know about Pomona’s: it’s a two-part process, where you mix up a little “calcium water” first (with the little included calcium packet) and then introduce it to the powdered pectin at the right point in the process. The calcium is what causes the jell-point reaction, not the sugar. so you are not forced to use ungodly amounts of sweetener in your recipes the way the other pectins do. (Yes, I know there are “low sugar” and “no sugar” options…but why go to the trouble of dealing with three specific sugar levels in pectins when you can get one that is right for all of it?) So you can use fruit juice concentrate or honey or whatever you want as a sweetener, at whatever level you like, and it’ll work just fine. And they give measurements for how much pectin to use, rather than assuming you want to use their entire box of pectin every time you make jam–they even have a “developing your own recipes” box in the instruction packet, to let you mess around yourself and know how much pectin for how much fruit, thereby freeing you to make smaller batches if you want.
Another difference from other pectins is that you mix the calcium water with the fruit, and the pectin with the sugar, and when it’s all put together it does its thing. However, I am here to tell you that despite having a couple of advanced degrees and 750+ blog posts I am apparently illiterate, because I missed that part of the directions and had dumped both calcium water and pectin into the fruit before noticing that part of the directions. (Yes, I had read them–or thought I had–before starting, but apparently I missed this.) And my jam did absolutely fine. I’d recommend following the instructions on the package, though!
I put the tiny dollop of oil in before starting, so there was very little foam. It passed the cold plate test exactly when it was supposed to, and I happily jarred up a full pint more of amazing delicious Apricot-Ginger Jam than I’d expected, which is awesome, because it means that whole extra pint is ours for the munching. I don’t suppose I can really credit Pomona’s for this, except that I didn’t have to cook it down so much that I ended up with less jam than I would have otherwise.
(By the way, did you know that if you put your skimmed foam into a bowl, give it a quick re-boil in the microwave, and stir it down, it turns back into jam? The kind you can then put in the fridge and use in the next few days?)
Generally when I do product reviews, I have at least one less-than-glowing thing to say about the product–in fact, I try to, because unabashedly glowing reviews to me have less credibility. In this case I can’t think of a damn thing. This is great stuff.
Now excuse me please; I have to go eat more Apricot-Ginger jam out of the jar with a spoon, since we’re out of bread…