Jam Making in Unlined Copper Pots
Bassine à confiture
I am thinking of purchasing a Copper Jam Pot, but because it is not widely used in North America, I am wondering about how to use it safely. I have read that the fruit and sugar must be mixed together before putting in the pot.
Also i always add lemon juice to my jams; would this also be safe? I know these pots are widely used in France, so hope you can give me some advice.
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Vancouver, BC, Canada
It's great to hear from you and I am so happy that you have been enjoying La Marmite. Your question comes at a good time, as I know a lot of people are taking advantage of the lovely fresh fruit that is now available to do some jam making, and some may be wondering what to cook it in.
Known as a bassine à confiture in France, a copper jam pan is considered by most French home cooks to be the absolute best way to make homemade jams and jellies. The copper warms rapidly and distributes heat evenly so food cooks from both the bottom and the sides. The shape of the bassine encourages rapid and even heating as well. Therefore, jams and jellies will cook much more quickly in a bassine resulting in more fresh fruit flavor without sacrificing consistency.
Your concerns about using lemon juice are of course warranted. One drawback of unlined copper cookware is that the metal does react with acidic foods and might release copper salts which can be toxic for humans. So normally lemon juice should not come into contact with the copper. However, in jam making the small amount of lemon juice that is used combined with the fact that the jam is cooked quickly, means that this is not a concern. Of course, it would be unwise to cook any highly acidic foods in unlined copper cookware, so tomato chutney or some such thing would be a no-no.
For a great discussion of this topic, including some fun ideas for how to use your copper pot when it isn't cooking jam, see this forum post on Chowhound
So, Pinky I hope this convinces you that a copper jam pot is definitely a worthwhile investment for anyone who enjoys jam making. If you do purchase one, I imagine that you will get many years of pleasure from this awesome piece of kitchen equipment.
For those of you ready to follow the lead of French homemade jam makers and maybe make the plunge, have a look at this gorgeous Mauviel jam pan