Key to making jam is having some type of thickening agent to add to the fruit. I scoured the voluminous FTI resource library and found the "Cooking and food Preparation; Frozen/Preserved; Jams, jellies, compotes" section to determine the best method to follow in producing my project. The recipe included the need for commercially produced pectin. Not wanting to run to the store as I know we didn't have any on hand, I noted that the book mentioned that apples are a high source of natural pectin. You peel two tart apples, finely grate them, boil them with a little bit of water and gradually the pectin will be produced into a liquid form that can be used for my purpose. I thought "perfect", here is my answer. I dutifully followed the directions and began to boil my apple. For minutes. And minutes. And more minutes. At some point, I realized this maybe wasn't working the way I thought it should. The rolling, boiling stuff I had on the stove had changed from a clear brothy liquid to a brown foamy mass that didn't seem to be doing much. Thinking that, perhaps I should test this concoction, I took a small spoonful of it and dropped it into a cup of water. It immediately turned into a strand of caramel. This ladies and gentlemen, is the "hard-ball" stage when making candy. Though it is desirable when making homemade toffee for Christmas gifts, it is not beneficial when preparing a thickening agent for homemade jam as I had long since surpassed the point of viability in this process. I thought it might be a bit odd, but I will try it this way anyway. I dumped the mess into a strainer to remove the bits of apple and that is where a slight glitch occurred. Upon immediately hitting the dry cool area outside of it's boiling environment, it immediately turned to hardened caramel. The edge of the strainer, the sides, the sink, everywhere. What a mess. To top it off, the stuff is as hard as cement and would certainly chip a tooth if you tried to eat it. I did taste some and, though it definitely tasted like caramel, it was so hard and solid that there is no way you could chew it. Fortunately, Mrs. Kfred was yakkin' away on the phone to someone which provided me the nearly 15 minute cover to clean the mess up without her even knowing of my issues. I realized I had suffered a crop failure, threw the first batch out, and decided to go to the store the next day, get the pectin, and follow the recipe to the letter. I did so and now have regular jam. Whew. What a relief.
I'm not sure all of my efforts were worth it. I probably should just fork out the $4 for the jar and buy some Smuckers off of the shelf. I wonder if they have ever considered a toffee jam. I have a great recipe.