Jam processing

Food Processing Africa provides insight on how Mandy Aucamp,the owner of the Berrynice Berry Company situated in the Eastern Cape produces her speciality Raspberry jam.
Aucamp highlights that the decision to produce raspberry jam is because of her raspberry farm which enables her to reduce
waste of the fruit by preserving it. “The ideal fruits used for jam are those that are overripe. Raspberries are good for
jamming as they contain heaps of natural pectin in their seeds. Other berries such as blueberries and strawberries contain
less natural pectin,” she says.
Pectins are sugar molecules which are found naturally in plant cell walls. Pectins are found in fruits, particularly in the
peels and cores. When jam sets, it is pectin that that plays a vital role.The pectin content of different fruit, varies. Fruits such as apples and blackcurrants have higher levels of pectin than strawberries and raspberries. When a jam is being made from a low pectin fruit, either a higher pectin fruit must be included or commercial pectin must be added. The way to obtain commercial pectin is to utilise the peel of citrus fruits which have naturally high pectin content.
According to Aucamp, when cooking raspberry jam, the fruit is either cooked off the trees or from frozen fruit which has been defrosted.
“It is advisable to let the fruit cook a bit first then use a potato masher to break up the seeds to release as much pectin as possible. Proper jam is preservative free and is preserved by the sugar which is added at a 50/50 ratio,”
Aucamp says. The jam is then cooked in small quantities and during the process a lot of ‘scum’ will rise to the top. She
adds that the ‘scum’ has to be scooped off manually and the pot can therefore, not be covered.
Aucamp further explains that utilising copper cookware ensures that the product has the best colour and taste.She advises that aluminium not be used as it changes the colour of the jam.
“The jam is cooked until it thickens and reaches the correct gel consistency. This can be tested by keeping a side plate in the fridge and then taking a teaspoonful of jam and spreading it thinly on the plate (for it to cool). Then take the back of your spoon and draw a line through the centre – if the line stays, the consistency is thick enough and ready to be filled in a bottle.”
The role of sugar in jam making
Sugar content plays an important part in producing jam. It is vital for the flavour and further plays a role in helping the
jam, set. Aside from sweetening jam, sugar also assists in allowing the pectin to set by enhancing the gel-forming capability and drawing water to itself, decreasing the ability of the pectin to remain in separate chains. The final
sugar content of jam should be between 65 and 69%.
Bottling jam
Aucamp says when storing jam in glass jars, it is important that the jar is sterilised and dry. “The jam needs to be
82 0C.”
She says that once the lid is on, the jar needs to be inverted for a few seconds so that the top of the jar sterilises. Once that is done, the jar is tightly sealed.This procedure of making jam allows that it be kept on shelf for about two
years followed by it being refrigerated for about a month.
Aucamp says that some fruits such as pineapple which has little or no natural pectin can be thickened using powdered pectin. “The recipes do however need to be tried and tested until the correct consistency is achieved.”
She warns that overcooking jam results in the sugar being burnt which alters the colour of the product and once cooled is stringy and sticky.
Sugar-free jams
Sugar free jams can be sweetened using various sugar substitutes like xylitol or stevia. These jams usually need pectin as
there are rules surrounding the ratios as well as the cooking times. In the case of a sugar free jam the fruit content is around 80% of the end product and a preservative has to be used. Aucamp highlights that potassium sorbate is most effective to use in producing sugar-free jams and also provides a two year shelf-life.
Roscherr’s Fine Foods in Montagu, Cape Town
Martin Roscherr, the production and HACCP manager at Roscherr’s Fine Foods reminisces on how the company established its jam manufacturing process.
“As a pre-schooler, I can remember picking apricots from our trees on our Johannesburg residential property. Many of these were eaten from the tree, but there is a limit to how much one can consume before the apricots passes their best before date.”
He says the need to preserve fruit for use at a later time has been around since there were seasons, and cooking the apricots up with sugar and making jam is certainly a tasty option.
“I would ‘help’ my mom stir and taste of course, as we first cooked the apricots soft and later added sugar,” says Roscherr.
He adds that testing whether the jam was of proper consistency and taste entailed it being spread on a saucer, allowed to cool and form a skin. “Once the jam was ready it would be poured into canned fruit glass jars that had been heated in a pot of shallow steaming water.”
He mentions that the process has come a long way in comparison to how it initially was.
“There are still folks that cook the fruit from their own orchards and sell the jams and preserves at farm stalls. On
the other hand, there are mega-factories pumping out tons of jams per day made from fruit pulp.”He says that Roscherr’s Fine Foods finds itself in the middle of the two extremes, or rather, in the fortunate position to have the best of both worlds.
The business started years ago when the owners of a restaurant in Montagu (Western Cape), made jam during quieter trading times. Traditional family recipes were used, and fruit was in abundance.These jams were given as gifts to friends, and according to Roscherr, soon as news spread; a demand for great tasting jam was created. “This is how the jam manufacturing
business came about.”
He says his grandmothers jam recipes are used, to date. The only difference is that there is a benefit to utilising scientific equipment. “The equipment is used to test the jam for consistency and quality.”
‘As we use no preservatives, we rely on a consistent sugar percentage as well as a certain acidity to produce a product
that is unfavourable for the growth of micro-organisms.”
The role of acids in jam production
Acids are important in helping the pectin set. Fruits naturally contain acids. The most well known is citric acid although
malic acid and tartaric acids are also found in a number of fruits. While some acid will be contributed by the fruit from
which the jam is made, this is often not enough to reach the desired PH. For this reason, more will need to be added and
is commonly in the form of lemon juice which contains citric acid and by using powdered forms of acid.
Monitoring of temperatures is also vital; it should be high enough to ensure that micro-organisms are eliminated and also not too high so as to prevent caramelising the product on the pot and causing a burned taste.”
A few greenish-coloured (unripe) apricots are used because of its higher pectin levels which helps the jam set. “Today’s fruit are all ripe and have lower pectin levels and we have to add pectin to certain jams to help them set.”
The company exports “quality” fruit rejected for having the “slightest” mark on it, ones that are slightly under or oversized and unsuitable for market needs.
According to Roscherr the company has the “perfect” staff compliment that inspects all fruit on arrival. He says there are fruits that are rejected during inspection.
Roscherr Fine Foods comprises of more than 20 staff members, four of which have been stayed with the company for more than 20 years and 11 that have been with the company for 10 years.
He maintains that the company’s jams comprise of no less than 65% fruit content.
“Many of our clients want to spread fruit pieces over their bread when buying the product, else they would have purchased canned jam that has a fruit content under 30% and a jelly like texture.”
The company’s jam manufacturing process is subjected to annual audits from internationally accredited food safety bodies. Everything from the ordering, procurement, dispatching, customer safety and quality assurance is checked.
“Through the food safety system we record all aspects of the process and each bottle produced has a batch code printed
on the lid whereby we are able to trace where all the ingredients came from, also to which clients we have dispatched that
batch, expiry dates etc.”
He says that keeping up to date with the ever changing labelling requirements is no small task and exporting has its own
list of challenges.
“In a nutshell: we are small enough to maintain and pass down a tradition of quality jam making and big enough to implement international standards and do private labelling for big brands.”
Roscherr says the key to the company’s success has been tried and trusted recipes, quality fruit, trusted and experienced staff, and utilising science as a means to control and ensure safety and quality and good relationships with both suppliers
and clients.
Montagu Roscherrs Fine Foods: Tel + 27 23 614 1360; montagudriedfruitnuts.co.za
The Berrynice Berry Company: Tel + +27 83 384 6611; www.berrynice.co.za; info@berrynice,co.za