I like to make as many things from scratch as possible, but it can be difficult. With busy lives, it is far easier to go to the store and grab something pre-made. Jams and jellies are the perfect example of this for me. I love homemade jam and I do enjoy canning, but it can be a big job, and take a fair amount of time to make a batch of raspberry jam or grape jelly. I know it is not the same, but going to the store and buying a jar is quicker, and a whole lot easier. So, when Ball said that they were going to send me their FreshTECH Automatic Jam and Jelly Maker, I was very interested. If this can simplify the job of making jam, I am in.
It is funny that I say this, because making jam is really not all that difficult. But, it has become one of those things in life that moved into the “if I have time, I will do it’ category. I used to make homemade jam, but now with kids and piano lessons, football practice, dance class and more, things like jam just don’t seem to make the schedule. So, I was excited to see if the FreshTECH could turn making jam into a job that would fit into the schedule of our life.
The premise of the machine is simple. The base of the unit has a heating element, controls and timer. A non-stick pot rests on top of the base. In the pot there is a middle shaft, quite similar to an angel food cake pan. A plastic turning device sets on top of the shaft which turns while the FreshTECH is in operation. It continually stirs the jam or jelly during the entire cooking process. So really, you do not even need to be there while it is cooking. Turn it on and let it make jam!
The controls are very simple. Essentially all you do is hit the Jam or Jelly button and then hit enter. Then the machine is off! Making jam has a preset time of 21 minutes, whereas jelly has a time set for 25 minutes. You can add or subtract minutes by pressing the + or – buttons.
I have made jam many times before and the steps using the FreshTECH were a little different than the traditional way. The first thing you need to do is sprinkle the pectin across the bottom of the pot.
I decided I would try an make raspberry jam first, as it is our favorite kind. The recipe I used called for a 600g bag of the frozen raspberries. I loved this because it is cheaper than buying fresh and having a recipe built around the quantity of berries in those frozen bags makes this machine very practical. We always have those bags in the freezer. I let the berries thaw a bit and then I mashed them with a potato masher.
The crushed berries get added to the pot along with a tiny bit of butter (to help reduce foaming). The crushed berries get spread across the bottom of the pot on top of the pectin.
Then press the Jam button, followed by the Enter button. The FreshTECH starts turning the mixer and heating it up the pot.
After a 4 minutes, machine will beep. At this time, you need to add the required sugar for the recipe. The machine does not stop but keeps turning while you add the sugar. Then place the lid on top and let it go for the rest of the cooking time.
The machine beeps again when the timer is done. Above is the picture of the raspberry jam at the end of the cooking cycle. Now, it can be put in jars and left to cool. Remember, if you are planning to put jam on pantry shelves, it is essential to use sterilized jars and to process the filled jars in a boiling water bath.
Another thing I made was habanero jelly. I love pepper jelly, especially the spicy kind! So, I chopped a bunch of habaneros and a few sweet orange peppers in a food processor.
I used the Jelly cooking function on the FreshTECH. It was really easy and full recipe instructions can be found here: Habanero Jelly Recipe
This jelly was perfect. It has a nice consistency and some great heat. It was very spicy and pairing it with some cream cheese on a cracker makes for an awesome snack.
I love how easy it is to use the machine and that you do not need to stay there stirring the bottom. Also, it is great to know that the timer is set for the exact amount of cooking time to get the jelly or jam to set. That always used to be a thing of frustration, when making jam using a traditional method. It was hard to know if it was set and I would often put some on a spoon and stick it in the freezer for a couple minutes to see if it is set. One important thing to note, is that you cannot expect any jam or jelly recipe to work perfectly in the FreshTECH. It may be necessary to convert the recipe so that the quantities match what works for this machine. The FreshTECH comes with a recipe book, including a bunch of jam and jelly recipes. There are also plenty online that work perfect for this machine.
The great people of Ball are giving away a FreshTECH to one lucky reader. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only. Sorry to anyone who lives elsewhere. Make sure you use the rafflecopter widget below to enter – just follow the instructions on the widget to enter (there are options for more than one entry as well!)
Pick up the FreshTECH online at Amazon or at other retailers.
Disclaimer: Ball provided me with the FreshTECH. They did not pay me for this product review and the views expressed above are my honest reactions after trying the product.