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Naturally sweet, fresh tasting, they are no-cook jams.

Naturally sweet, fresh tasting, they are no-cook jams

When you blend fresh fruit into a smooth puree, then let some of the moisture evaporate, it thickens like jam. The flavor and sweetness of the fruit are concentrated, so it takes very little added sugar to make fresh-tasting, naturally sweet spreads.

You can prepare the jams in an oven, in an electric dehydrator, or outdoors on a sunny day. Usually it takes 2 to 4 hours for the jams to thicken in a dehydrator or oven. It may take a little longer in the sun, depending on the temperature and humidity of the air. You simply stir the jams about once an hour. Only one--plum-- requires a few minutes' cooking.

The jams will keep up to about 6 days in the refrigerator. However, for freshest taste, we suggest storing them in a freezer in portions you can thaw to use within 2 or 3 days.

To prepare in an oven. Lay a continuous sheet of parchment paper in a shallow-rimmed baking pan about 10 by 15 inches; it should extend beyond the rims. (Or cover pan with a continuous sheet of plastic wrap and secure wrap to underside of pan bottom with tape.)

Pour fruit puree (following) into prepared pan and spread to about 3/8 inch thick. Put in oven, heated to 120| to 130| (lowest setting for most ovens); leave oven door open several inches and check the temperature with an oven thermometer.

To prepare in a dehydrator. If your unit has a door and removable drying trays, cover one tray with a continuous sheet of plastic wrap; secure wrap at each corner and on sides with tape.

If your unit has drying trays that stack over a heat source on the bottom, use a shallow-rimmed metal, plastic, or glass container inside a drying tray with space for air to circulate all around it. Or make a container of double-thick heavy foil: turn up 1 inch on all sides and pinch together at corners to secure; each container should be at least 60 square inches and shaped to fit the dimensions of your dehydrator trays.

Pour fruit puree (following) on prepared tray and spread to about 3/8 inch thick. Use temperature recommended for drying fruit in your dehydrator, or about 130|.

To prepare in the sun. The weather should be 85| or warmer with less than 60 percent relative humidity. You'll need a glass, metal, or plastic baking pan about 9 by 13 inches. Pour fruit puree (following) into pan and spread evenly. Cover pan with plastic wrap, leaving open about 1 inch on one long side. If not dry when sun goes down, refrigerate, covered, overnight, and return to sun the next day.

Dehydrated jam, step by step

1. For each batch of jam, prepare a tray or container as directed for the drying method you choose.

2. Prepare 2 cups fruit puree (choices follow). The purees are sweetened with a little sugar or honey and most have a bit of lemon juice. The jams taste sweeter after they are dehydrated, and flavors can be adjusted then.

3. Pour fruit mixture into prepared drying tray or pan and spread and dry as directed for each method. About once an hour, carefully scrape jam from edges with a rubber spatula and stir well, then spread evenly again.

4. Dry until jam is almost the thickness you prefer--it will be slightly thicker when cold. Spoon into a container and stir in a little more sugar, honey, or lemon juice to taste, if desired.

5. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Makes about 1 cup apricot, berry, peach, or plum jam, or about 1/2 cup melon jam.

Fruit Purees

Each makes 2 cups. For best flavor, start with fully ripe, peak-season fruit. Wash unpeeled fruit, using mild soap or detergent; rinse well and dry. Rinse berries in cool water; drain well on paper towels.

Apricot. Halve and pit about 1 1/2 pounds apricots (about 3 cups halves). In a blender or food processor, whirl until smooth. Blend in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 to 4 tablespoons honey or sugar, depending on sweetness of apricots.

Melon. Cut peeled and seeded cantaloupe, Persian, or honeydew melon in chunks. In a blender or food processor, smoothly whirl enough melon to make 2 cups puree. Blend in 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar or honey, depending on sweetness of melon.

Peach or nectarine. Halve and pit about 4 medium-size (about 1 1/2 lbs.) peeled peaches, or peeled or unpeeled nectarines; whirl in a blender or food processor until smooth. Blend in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar or honey, depending on sweetness of fruit.

Plum. Cut flesh away from pits of about 1 1/4 pounds plums or purple prune-plums (about 3 1/2 cups) and whirl in a blender or food processor until smooth. Blend in 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar or honey, depending on sweetness of plums; pour mixture into a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan. Bring to simmering on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Cool slightly before pouring on prepared tray.

Raspberry, boysenberry, or olallieberry. Whirl about 3 cups berries in a blender or food processor, then press through a fine strainer and discard seeds. Blend in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 4 to 6 tablespoons sugar, depending on sweetness of berries.

Strawberry. Remove stems from about 3 cups strawberries and whirl in a blender or food processor until smooth. Blend in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar, depending on sweetness of strawberries.

Photo: Oven method. Spread puree (strawberry is shown) in parchment-covered pan. With oven door ajar, use lowest heat

Photo: Dehydrator method. Pour puree (here, apricot) on drying trays covered with plastic wrap; spread about 3/8 inch thick

Photo: Sun method. Stir puree (this one's peach) every hour; spread it out and cover with plastic, leaving 1 inch open along one edge

Photo: Breakfast spreads in nectarine, strawberry, and honeydew flavors are dehydrated for super-fresh taste. They're also low in sugar
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Date:Jul 1, 1986
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