Pumpkins are one of the prettiest fruits often associated with Autumn, Thanksgiving, and Halloween. Pumpkin doesn’t really have the typical pumpkin pie flavors that people usually associate with them. But pumpkins are naturally sweet and earthy. Their creaminess transpires after being mixed with cream and sugar. The typical pumpkin pie or pumpkin spice flavors relished in pumpkin jams only emerge after a mixture of spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
Pumpkin Jam Trivia
- Pumpkins are famously known as jack-o’-lanterns during Halloween. There were first introduced by Irish immigrants in North America. According to history, scary faces were carved in pumpkin, potatoes, and even turnips to frighten a scary entity named Stingy Jack whose spirit still roams the Earth.
- Even though people think that pumpkins are vegetables, they are actually fruits and are included in the gourd family.
- The American Pie Council reports that Pumpkin Pie is America’s second-favorite pie.
Pumpkin Jam Buying Guide
Pumpkin jams are available both as commercially produced goods in groceries and supermarkets. They are available all year round and you can buy different types such as with or without pectin, all-natural, or the ones which indicate that there are no sugars or food coloring added. However, those labels are not always reliable as commercial products do contain preservatives and chemicals that are suited for their mass production.
It’s best to buy pumpkin jam from your local artisan jam makers or on displays at the farmer’s market. It’s guaranteed that you can get high-quality, all-natural pumpkin jams with recipes passed from generations.
Pumpkin Jam Production & Farming in Texas
Pumpkins are best cultivated and planted in Texas during early summer because pumpkins love to receive full sunlight. However, too much heat can also damage the fruits. Thus, farmers usually plant pumpkins from May to June. When planting pumpkins, soil tests and checks should be first done to evaluate if the soil would be appropriate for pumpkins. A high-quality soil with good drainage would allow pumpkins to thrive. However, planting pumpkins on sandy soils would require more irrigation.
Texas is proud to share its pumpkin patches with locals, tourists, and visitors, especially during Thanksgiving and Halloween. Areas such as Dallas, Midlothian, Canton, Celine, Bastrop, Brookshire, and Cleburne, among others, have excellent and scenic pumpkin patches that are especially popular with children.
Preservatives and Chemicals
Jams, jellies, and preserves are made with four basic ingredients: fruit, pectin, acid, and sugar.
Fruit or vegetable is the base for any jams, jellies, or preserves. It is essential to use firm and ripe fruit for jams as over-ripe fruits will result in a liquidy set. Meanwhile, an under-ripe fruit will have fewer juices and under-developed flavors. Taste the fruits first before using them on your jam.
Pectin is essential to achieve the gel-like consistency of the jam. In simpler terms, pectin is necessary to set the jam. It is important to know the difference between pectin and gelatin. Pectin is a natural starchy substance usually found in fruits while gelatin is derived from animals. Certain types of fruits have different pectin levels. Strawberries, blueberries, and peaches are low in pectin meanwhile blackberries, currants, cranberries, and eastern concord grapes have a high pectin content.
Sugar is another essential ingredient in jams, jellies, and preserves. While people think sugar is just a sweetener, it is much more than that. Sugar is essential in retaining the shape and texture of the fruit. In the case of low-sugar jams, they have a shorter shelf-life because of their consistency. Low-sugar jams should also be paired with low-sugar pectin to successfully achieve the texture. Otherwise, the unsuccessful chemical reaction would result in a less desirable texture.
Citric acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid are commonly used in jams and jellies. Acids are essential to bind and form the pectin. Most people can easily purchase powdered forms of acid, but the acid of lemon juice or other citrus fruits would suffice.
Jams, jellies, preserves, and marmalades require highly sanitized and extensive procedures to preserve the shelf-life of the food products and maintain food safety.
Pumpkin jams are less firm than pumpkin jellies but both contain pectin, sugars, and fruits. In this case, the canning method or the boiling water bath is the most reliable food packaging method.
Check the jars for any cracks, chipped areas, and even mold. Once you find these irregularities, immediately discard the jars instead of repairing or saving them. Remember that the consumers’ food safety is the top priority.
Boil the jars in hot water and let them cool for a while. Ladle the pumpkin jam leaving 1-inch headspace otherwise, the jar will crack or explode. Place the magnetic lids and metal rings tightly, ensuring that no air enters the mixture and close tightly. Return the jar with the jam mixture into the boiling water for 5 more minutes.
Let the jars cool down for 24 hours and store in a cool place, away from the sun for up to a year.
Enjoying Pumpkin Jam
Let’s focus on the best way to eat pumpkin jam. Add it to your pumpkin pie filling for deeper pumpkin flavors. Use it as a filling for donuts, beignets, cupcakes, and muffins. Spread it to bagels, sliced bread, pancakes, and waffles then pair it with gorgonzola or goat’s cheese.
Properly storing either commercially-produced or homemade pumpkin jam will determine how long you can keep the flavor quality and shelf-life. All unopened artisan-made jams should be stored in a cool, dark place, and should be consumed within a year. although, you can consume it for a maximum of three to six months to enjoy the flavors as time will modify the flavors, colors, and textures of the jam.
Once opened, always refrigerate the pumpkin jam and consume it within two to three weeks since the jams will deteriorate faster once opened and exposed to varying temperatures.
Always check for signs of spoilage before eating the jam. Those with mold or yeast growth in the lids or the glass wall and having fermented or yeasty odors should be immediately discarded.
HOMEMADE PUMPKIN JAM
1 1/2 kg pumpkin peeled and cut into small cubes
2 oranges juice and zest
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 kg sugar
- Prepare the pumpkin by cutting into quarters and discarding out the seeds and peeling it.
- Then slice into wedges like you would prepare a melon.
- Chop the pumpkin into 2 cm cubes.
- Place pumpkin into a pan. Add the spices, sugar, and orange juice.
- Boil for 50 minutes or until the pumpkin is easily squashed with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be thick and a clear orange color — almost translucent.
- Smash the pumpkin with a wooden spoon, or if you want a very smooth jam, use a blender.
- Spoon hot jam into sterilized jars and close immediately.