Give Your Dutch Oven A New Purpose And Make Fruit Jam

Your Dutch oven is way more versatile than you might imagine. It can do more than just cook beef stews, boil pasta, and bake lasagna. For example, you can make homemade fruit jam using your Dutch oven. It might seem strange that something called an "oven" can be used for jam-making, but it's true!

Making fruit jam with a Dutch oven is super easy. Start by processing fresh fruit bits in a food processor or blender until you have a smooth fruit puree. Then, transfer the puree to your Dutch oven. Turn on the heat and let the fruity mixture come to a rolling boil. Once it's boiling, simply add some pectin, a thickener, to the mix. Before you know it, your fruity mix will congeal into jam.

So, why is a Dutch oven the go-to tool for jam-making? Well, it's all about its design. Most Dutch ovens are made from enameled cast iron, which can spread heat very evenly across the bottom of the pot. This means your fruit mixture will cook more uniformly. Additionally, the Dutch oven's wideness gives you plenty of surface area for effective evaporation. This helps your fruit mixture reach its gel point much faster than other types of pots. Lastly, the thick bottom of a Dutch oven acts as a safeguard against burning. Thinner-bottom pots heat up more quickly and unevenly and can easily lead to burning but with a Dutch oven's quarter-inch-thick bottom, you're in safe hands.

Not just fruit jam, you can make preserves with your Dutch oven, too!

Besides fruit jam, you can also whip up some fruit preserves in your trusty Dutch oven, just like we did in our apricot-cardamom preserves recipe. Making preserves isn't all that different from jam-making. You start with ripe apricots, give them a good chop, and then mix them with sugar, lemon juice, cardamom, and ginger. Let this mixture marinate for a while. One of the great things about using a Dutch oven is the pot's generous size. It makes it easy to accommodate a substantial amount of fruit and sugar compared to, let's say, a regular saucepan.

As the fruit simmers, the sugar draws out the natural juices, which you can reduce in your Dutch oven to create a delicious syrup. Once the syrup reaches the right temperature, reintroduce the strained apricots back into the Dutch oven for the final cookdown. The Dutch oven's exceptional ability to maintain a steady cooking temperature comes in handy here.

Once the mixture of strained fruits and syrup has cooked through, the last step is to fill up mason jars with your freshly made preserves and seal them for long-term storage. Who would've guessed that the unassuming Dutch oven could be a pro at making fruit jams and preserves?