Preserves - Food prepared for long term storage

Preserves are fruits, or vegetables, that have been prepared and canned for long term storage. Preserves are foods with many textures, flavors, and colors. They all consist of fruits preserved mostly by means of sugar and they are thickened or jellied to some extent.

Preserves are made of small, whole fruits, or uniform-size pieces of fruits in a clear, thick, slightly jellied syrup. The fruit should be tender and plump.

The preparation of fruit preserves traditionally involves the use of pectin as a gelling agent, although sugar or honey may be used as well. The ingredients used and how they are prepared will determine the type of preserves; jams, jellies and marmalades are all examples of different styles of fruit preserves that vary based upon the ingredients used.

Fruit provides the characteristic color, flavor and at least part of the acid and pectin needed for successful gels. Flavorful fruit varieties are best for any type of fruit preserve.

Sugar helps in gel formation, serves as a preserving agent, and contributes to the flavor of the jellied product.

Pectins are substances in fruits that form a gel if they are in the right combination with acid and sugar. All fruits contain some pectin. It is naturally occurring and found in many fruits, some containing enough natural pectin to make finished product. Apples, crab apples, gooseberries, and some plums and grapes usually contain enough natural pectin to form a gel.

Pectins are complex chemicals whose jelling ability is standardized in products made for use in preserves. Preserves get their smooth, semisolid consistency from pectin. Pectin is a generic term for numerous pectinic acids. Commercial pectin is extracted from apple cores or the white layer of citrus fruit. Commercial pectins contain added acid to ensure jelling.

However, the ability of these products to jell is gradually lost if stored too long before use, or if the mix is heated too long before it is filled into jars.

No-cook preserves must be stored in the freezer until use. After opening, they can be stored in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks. Preserves can add zest to meals, and provide a good way to use fruits not suitable for canning or freezing.
Preserves -  Food prepared for long term storage

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