The Unexpected Ingredient You Need For A Delicious And Unique Homemade Jam

Jars of homemade jam
Jars of homemade jam - Stephaniefrey/Getty Images

Summer is fleeting, but at least canning food at home exists to extend the life of seasonal produce well into the colder months. They also make excellent gifts, especially for those who have trouble transitioning from summer to fall. Best of all, preserves — in this case, jam — are pretty easy to make.

There are several rules to follow when mastering the art of jam-making, but sticking to sweet fruit like berries and cherries is not one of them. While you can make jam out of almost anything (carrot cake marmalade, anyone?), it's time to talk about zucchini, one of the most abundant denizens of summer gardens everywhere. Not only does zucchini grow like crazy, leaving green thumbs and gift recipients with more of it than they know what to do with, but it also makes for a delicious and unexpected ingredient in jam.

Even if you're not keen on the idea of jam whose primary flavor is zucchini, you still might want to keep a few summer squash on hand the next time you bust out your canning gear. Here's why.

Read more: Vegetarian Appetizers That Are Sure To Be Crowd-Pleasers

Points For Pectin

Pile of green zucchini
Pile of green zucchini - Funwithfood/Getty Images

Zucchini isn't known for having a strong flavor. What it does have is plenty of pectin, a water-soluble fiber that gives thickness and body to jam, jelly, and other foods. It's possible to make jam and jelly without pectin, but leaving it out means the process will take significantly longer for your jam or jelly to reach the right consistency, and the end result might taste sweeter than you'd like. While all fruit contains pectin, zucchini has a particularly high amount of it, eschewing the need for the store-bought stuff and making it perfect for your next canning project.

Rest assured: Just because you should absolutely consider adding grated zucchini to your jam mixture doesn't mean your jam needs to be zucchini flavored. Thanks to the vegetable's mild flavor, it plays well as a secret ingredient in whatever sweet or savory jam you have in mind, from strawberry to peach to tomato and beyond.

Bust Out The Box Grater

Zucchini beside box grater
Zucchini beside box grater - Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

The first step in using zucchini to make jam is to peel, seed, and grate it. The finer you grate it the smoother the texture will be. If you prefer a thicker jam, squeeze out as much water as you can with a clean dishcloth. If you don't mind a little extra juice in your jam, go ahead and leave it undrained.

Many zucchini jam recipes call for Jell-O mix, but if that's not your thing, simply add a few cups of grated zucchini to your fruit and sugar mixture and cook it as you would any other jam. The vegetable pairs nicely with all kinds of fresh summer fruit, but frozen fruit will work just fine, too.

Of course, if you want to taste actual zucchini in your zucchini jam, you can and you should. You can try a savory, chutney-like combination of zucchini, ginger, and lemon, to make a kind of marmalade; for a touch of spice, seed and mince some fresh hot peppers and add them to the pot.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.