Vintage Recipes For Jams and Preserves Fresh From Your Garden or Farmer's Market

Many recipes are easier to re-create now that we have other methods and different types of thickening agents... I use glucomannan powder. It's a natural fiber derived from the konjac root. I use it to thicken gravies and cream sauces, cutting back on cream, flour, starch or  sugars. It has no taste and works very well in small amounts. I don't like the fine texture of the flour-based thickeners found in the grocery store.

I  sometimes use the vintage recipes in exactly the more difficult ways that they were done in the original recipes. For nostalgic reasons only. Commercial jams were rationed in 1941, so thrifty housewives preserved their own from fruits grown in the Victory Gardens.

For me, nothing is easier than preserving fruit. From canned peaches suspended in syrup, to a beautiful jar of gooey preserves. I've Got This.

 Sometimes i prefer to  get it over with quickly. Other times, i resist the urge to rush, and use my vintage utensils and enamelware stockpots, pull up a cup (or 5) of my favorite herbal tea in my favorite china teapot, cup and saucer, and create a glorious mess. Just like old times.

Modern appliances make preserving an easier chore. I like using my crockpot to create jams and butters. It's pretty easy, and no big mess, splashing, or bodily harm involved. There are many crockpot preserves recipes on the web.

No matter what the recipe suggests, i will not use paraffin to seal my jars. It's good old safe canning jars, seals and lids for me. If I can find my old jelly jars that came with sour cream in them at the grocery store, i try to find a sealing lid that fits, or i make the jams to use now and not store them, unless i freeze them.

These are original recipes used in wartime and other decades, when sugar was scarce or rationed, cash was just as scarce, and  we grew most of our own food.

If you grow fruit and berries (i stick to growing berries), these are neat recipes for stockpiling for winter, or for creating gifts for sharing. I like to create my own citrus marmalades and cranberry sauces/relishes because i just don't like any that i've purchased. Large bags of Mandarin Oranges, meyer lemons, grapefruit and cranberries are frequently on sale. I don't grow those. Apple and other fruit butters are easily made in a crockpot. A bushel of apples from the farm makes a whole lot of applesauce and apple butter. I'll wager that strawberries are the most popular preserved fruit. But experimentation has shown that many non-traditional fruits can be preserved as condiments, using spices and herbs.

Some of these recipes just list the ingredients, not the process. I guess they figured you'd know how to process the end result without having to tell you. Some might be no-cook. I'm sticking to recipes that require only the simplest of processing methods - high acid fruit preserves processed via water bath canning. That averages about 25 min. of boiling the filled jars in the canner, then removing to cool. I like the sound of jar lids popping, telling me that the jars are safely sealed and can last up to 2 years in storage in a cool place. Many folks use the oven or crockpot methods of processing the jams, but i prefer the boiling water method on the gas stove.

I still have perfectly good jams and preserves that are now in their third year on the shelf. I once got 5 years out of strawberry syrups before declaring them gone. I open and do a lid test to make sure its seal is intact and air didn't get into it, an eyeball/sniff test of the contents, and take a tiny taste before actually eating it. Jams are easy for me to figure out whether they've gone over.


Wartime Strawberry Jam « Turnspit & Table

Yes, I know. Carrots are not fruits..... but i keep coming across Carrot Jam in preserving brochures, so i'll put it here. 
A jam is a jam.
Most modern-day vegetable and Victory Gardeners have lots of carrots, 
and here's a recipe to try for something sounds easy enough.

WWII Carrot Jam

One litre of grated or chopped carrots 3 cups of sugar a jar of honey 3 sliced lemons

1. Method - Add all the ingredients into a saucepan, and simmer slowly at a gentle heat. It is recommended that you stir the ingredients constantly, especially at the earlier stages of the cooking.
2. After about 20 minutes, the carrots should eventually begin to soften, and the jam will become thick.
3. To test jam is ready, place a spoonful on a chilled saucer, if it wrinkles when you push it, it is ready. 
4. Store in jars

Carrot Marmalade  c. 1915

Take two and half pounds of peeled sliced carrots (weigh after preparing). Six lemons thinly sliced, with the pips removed, a heaped saltspoonful (the spoon in my vintage salt cellar says that's 1/4 tsp) of salt and four quarts of water. 
Boil all together till they can be pulped through a sieve; say about two and a half hours; then add two pounds of sugar, and boil up until the marmalade will set.


Excerpt from 

Issued by the British Ministry of Agriculture and fisheries in 1941

on the subject of making jams:

Typical Recipes

Fruits of high setting quality, e.g., Black Currant:

  • 4 lb. fruit
  • 3 pints water
  • 5 Ib. sugar

Remove the stems and simmer the fruit with the water for 45 minutes. Add the sugar, stir until it is dissolved and boil rapidly until setting-point is reached.

Fruits of medium setting quality, e.g., Raspberry :

  • 6 lb. fruit
  • 6 lb. Sugar

Heat the fruit in the pan until the juice begins to flow. Add the sugar, stir until it is dissolved and boil rapidly until setting-point is reached.

Fruits of poor setting quality, e.g., Strawberry:

  • 4 lb. fruit
  • 3½ lb. Sugar
  • plus either 2 tablespoonfuls of lemon juice, I teaspoonful citric or tartaric acid, or ¼ pint of red currant or gooseberry juice.

Plug the strawberries and simmer them with the fruit juice or acid until the juice begins to flow. Add the sugar, stir until it has dissolved and boil rapidly until setting-point is reached.

Important Details of Jam Making

  1. The fruit should be fresh and firm-ripe. Over-ripe fruit should not be used.
  2. Simmer the fruit gently with a little water to soften the tissues before sugar is added.
  3. After the sugar has been added, the jam should be boiled rapidly until setting-point is reached.
  4. Remove the scum only when boiling is finished. Constant skimming is wasteful and unnecessary.
  5. To prevent fruit rising in the jars, the jam should be allowed to cool slightly in the pan, then stirred before filling into jars.
  6. Pour into clean, dry, worm jars, filling just short of overflowing. Put on waxed discs while hot, and press down over the surface.

What To Do With All Those Berries....

Clipping from a 50's magazine

CHERRIES–Good quality cherries, sweet or tart, should be: Firm and shiny–to avoid over-ripeness and over-age. Plump and well-colored to insure ripeness. Free from blemishes or brown circular spots.

If stems are off, inspect for decay or broken skin. Those with broken skins spoil quickly.

To can sweet cherries–Wash, stem and pit the cherries, if desired. Wash jars and rinse in hot water. Pack the cherries in hot jars and cover with sirup to within one-half inch from the top of the jar. Prepare sirup by dissolving 1 1/2 parts sugar in two parts water.

Insert a table knife down sides of the jar to remove the air bubbles. Wipe the jar rim with a damp cloth and secure the lids according to the manufacturer’s directions. Place the filled jars in the boiling water bath. Allow three to four inch spaces between jars. Have the water level at least one inch above the tops of the jars. Process for 20 minutes. Start counting time when a rolling boil is reached. Remove from water and cool. Cherries for pies may be canned in water, but keep their color better when some sugar is used.

To freeze, wash, drain, pit or leave the cherries whole. Do not scald. Use a 40 to 60 per cent sirup or four to six parts berries to one of dry sugar.

RASPBERRIES or BLACKBERRIES–Choose berries that are clean, plump, free from caps, and free from green or other off-colors. Sandy berries are almost impossible to clean so you should avoid them. Stained boxes are a sign of over-ripe or crushed fruit. Each berry of any one variety has about the same number of seeds. So, your best buy for flesh and juice are the larger ones.

To can use a cold or raw pack for red raspberries and others which do not hold shape well. Make light or medium sirup. Wash and drain berries. Pour about one-half cup hot sirup into hot jar. Fill jar with berries. Shake jar to pack berries closely without crushing. Add enough sirup to cover berries. Process 20 minutes in boiling water bath.

Use a hot pack for blackberries and others that hold their shape. Wash, drain and measure firm, ripe berries. Put into kettle and add 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar for each quart berries. Let stand two hours. Cook until sugar dissolves and berries are boiling hot. Pour, hot into hot jars. Add boiling water if there is not enough sirup to cover berries. Process 15 minutes in boiling water bath.

To freeze blackberries and black raspberries pick the berries over, rinse and drain. Pour 1/2 cup medium sirup into container. You do not need to add any acid. Add berries and enough sirup to cover them. Place a piece of crumpled cellophane or parchment paper on the berries. Cap with a tight lid.

For red raspberries rinse a few berries at a time in ice-cold water. Drain and freeze in medium sirup as explained above.

BLUEBERRIES–Choose berries that are plump, whole, dry and have an even, deep blue coloring. Decay is indicated by mold. A dull looking berry is probably over-ripe. A shriveled berry has been picked too long.

To can–These berries may be canned in sirup or water, but this method is better if berries are going to be used in muffins. Put two quarts clean berries in a square of cheesecloth. Hold cloth by the corners and dip into boiling water until spots appear on the cloth. Then dip into cold water. Pack into hot jars. (Add neither sugar nor liquid.) Process 20 minutes in boiling-water bath.

To freeze–scald the berries to prevent the skins from toughening during freezing. To do this place 1 1/2 quarts clean berries in a square of cheesecloth and hold in boiling water for one minute. Chill berries in cold water, drain, pack and freeze as explained for blackberries.

CURRANTS–Choose firm berries that are attached to the stems. Avoid those that are soft, discolored, or mushy. Most of these spicy little berries go into jams and jellies. But, they can be canned by the same method given for raspberries or blackberries.

If you are planning to use your berries fresh rather than canning or freezing them, plan to use them as soon as possible after buying them. They can be kept only about a week with proper storage in the refrigerator. A temperature of 30° to 32° F. and a relative humidity of 85 to 90 per cent is best. Wash just before using. Added moisture before storage will hasten mold and other forms of spoilage.

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