UPDATE: The Ball FreshTECH is now available on the Ball site.

Here is the recipe for Strawberry Lemon Marmalade made with the Ball FreshTECH. You can also do it in the regular, stove -top fashion.  Follow a basic strawberry jam recipe (using the correct ratios of sugar and fruit; use 1 lemon for every four 1/2 pints of marmalade). Add the boiled lemon rind strips after strawberries, sugar and pectin have come to the final hard boil.

(Recipe for Ball FreshTECH countertop jam and jelly maker)

2 2/3 crushed strawberries. If local fresh strawberries are not in season, use frozen. Avoid the monsters with no flavor found year ’round in the grocery store
1 lemon
3 T. powdered pectin (Ball brand is good)
3 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. butter

Put the pectin in the bottom of the FreshTECH cooker. Add the fruit and butter and press the start button. The paddle at the bottom will continuously stir the fruit while the vessel heats it. The digital time counter beep after four minutes and miraculously the fruit an pectin will be boiling perfect.

With the paddle still turning, pour in the sugar in a slow even stream so it mixes in as you pour. Doesn’t need to be completely dissolved as you go, but better to add it gently rather than just dumping it in.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil on the stove top. Slice the lemon in half from end to end, then trim off the end points. Use a spoon (or your fingers) to pull out all the pulp. (Save the pulp and juice for some other dish, it’s not needed here.)

Cut the rind into thin strips. Boil for five minutes ’til very soft, drain well.

Cover with the glass lid. After 15 minutes or so the appliance will beep again. While the paddles are still turning put in the lemon rinds. Let it stir them in (30 seconds will do the trick).

Press the stop button.

Ladle the marmalade into sterilized 1/2 pint jars. Follow standard procedures to put up the marmalade — a boiling water bath if you want to make it shelf stable, or store in the fridge if you’re going to be eating it soon.

Makes five 1/2 pint jars.

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A few weeks ago the Ball canning folks came to the Good Housekeeping Research Institute to demonstrate their new FreshTECH jam and jelly maker.  We’ve just received a brand new machine to try out.  It’s hitting store shelves this spring so it’s kind of cool to be getting an advance try. I imagine it’s the same feeling editors at Popular Mechanics get when NASA sends them a prototype of some new thing or another.

Good news: Ball’s new counter top cooker turned out this excellent Strawberry Lemon Marmalade quickly, neatly and easily.

Mind you with our “Springy Banks Cannery” and “Georgica Bend” preserves, plus all the years of jamming and canning before SpecD burst onto the World Wide Web, we’ve put up countless hundreds of jars of jam, jelly, marmalade, fruit conserves and preserves. So was it wrong to wonder just how much this new-fangled device could improve upon my time-tested techniques?

Pushing clouds of skepticism to the outer margins of my brain I took this baby for an inaugural test drive with an open and unbiased mind.

More good news: It’s been a virtually unqualified*  success. I think it’ll get a lot more people to start making their own jam. Please note, while this machine was sent gratis, this is not a paid endorsement.

(That said, when shopping for kitchenware support  SpecD by using the links on this site to shop Amazon, Williams Sonoma, Sur la Table and Chefs.)  

So, about the FreshTECH. The first thing to know is that it only works with powdered pectin (which, by the way, Ball has corned the market on). This is fine because powdered pectin is as easily obtained as liquid (Certo being the brand leader there). The difference is with powdered, fruit and pectin are brought to the boil first, then the sugar is added. With liquid it’s the other way around: fruit and sugar boil first, and only then do you add the pectin.  These are immutable laws of science.

The machine makes things easy by relieving you of the requisite constant stirring with a paddle that stirs throughout the process. Plus it takes the guesswork out of the timing. Push a button, listen for the beeps, do as it says and you’ll get what you want.

It comes with a recipe booklet (and their are more recipes and inspirations on their website) so I followed their directions for Lemony Strawberry Jam. But instead of grating lemon rind into the cooker, I pre-boiled slices of lemon rind on the stove and added them at the end to make a jam/marmalade hybrid.   temperature while a paddle at the base of the cooking pan continuously stirs to prevent scorching. It works in a matter of minutes so you’re not going to want to wander out of earshot. A beeper tells you when to add the sugar, Again, it heats and stirs and beeps when the jam is ready.

Now just because it makes the cooking easy that doesn’t mean you can slack off on accurate measures. The instructions that come with the machine do provide all the info you need to ensure proper fruit-sugar-pectin ratios.

*My one little reservation about the FreshTECH:  I wish it had a bigger capacity. The FreshTECH is designed to handle about four 8 oz. jars at a time. In general, most mainstream recipes for jams and jellies make twice this amount.  The directions say not to try making double batches, which makes sense given the size of the vessel and the adjustments in cooking time that would have to be accounted for.

Perhaps if the FreshTECH takes off they’ll start making bigger sizes.  Look how Presto’s Fry Daddy begat the Fry Daddy Jr., who in turn sired the Fry Baby which in some generational inversion brought us the Fry Granpappy.  Or think of all the wonderful things Mr. Foreman had done with his grill.

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Written by on April 23, 2012 under ALL RECIPES, Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Relish, Kitchen Gadgets.

  • Jen Morgan

    I got mine this week. It’s perfect for a jam/jelly virgin like me. I made my first batch of strawberry balsamic vinegar & black pepper jam tonight. I’ve got more strawberrys and lemons on hand so this recipe is perfect for my next batch. Any ideas on what to do with some pink grapefruits? Should I just put them through the juicer and make a jelly? Thanks.

  • Suebrook

    I purchased the jam/jelly maker and love it!  Never did any canning before and ready to experiment.  The only thing I experimented with was making the pepper jelly from the booklet and using half regular and half jalepeno to make it a bit more spicy.  Came out great!  Being a novice, I don’t want to ruin a batch, though.  Is there a general rule about following the recipes in the FreshTECH booklet, but changing things up a bit?  Like should the liquid amount be the same as a similar recipe.  If using frozen berries, do you measure it the same as if it they were cut up fresh? I have seen wine jelly recipes — would I follow the recipe for grape jelly and just use red or white wine instead of grape juice? Could I add a little bit of cut-up fruit into that?  Like the amount called for in the pepper jelly?  Kind of like a sangria jelly. 

    • Sean

      Hi Suebrook,
      With all jam and jellies you should stick with the fruit and/or juice amount, sugar amount and pectin amount or else you won’t get a good set. Also important is that dry pectin is added to the fruit and boiled together first, then the sugar is added; liquid pectin is added after the fruit and sugar have been boiled together first. Reversing the order means the jam won’t set. Customizing recipes can be easy: add citrus zest or rind, scraped vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg or other spices. Lots of flavor and won’t interfere with the set or affect the safety of the canning. You can also play with fruit mixtures. Compare recipes and pair fruits with similar sugar amounts and instructions. Berries go together, as do peaches, pears, nectarines. Marmalade can be made with an array of citrus. Once you get the hang of it there’s all sorts of variations: caramelize the sugar first for a toasty taste, add some bananas — these are a little more complicated but very do-able. Using frozen fruit is fine, thaw it and proceed as usual. Re your great idea for sangria jelly — that’s a new one to me. Make it and send me a photo and the recipe and we can do a SpectacularlyD post. Seriously — it’d be cool. Sean

  • Vanessa

    Has anyone tried a recipe for marmalade or jam that doesn’t use pectin in their FreshTECH?

    • Sean

      I have not tried a pectin-free jam in the FreshTech. The challenge is the cooking time — both marmalade and no-pectin jam require more cooking time that the pre-programmed FreshTech setting provide for. You might be able to run batches on multiple cycles but I can’t give you any real advice there.

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