In a previous post I told you about the Ball® FreshTECH Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker I bought. I thought I would take a few minutes to show you exactly what you get for your money.
There are really only four parts to this appliance; the base, the pot, the stirrer and the lid. The only part that needs assembly is the lid, which needs to have the knob attached. It’s not tough to do, but it always makes me a bit nervous when I am tightening something down on a glass lid. I did manage to put it together without an issue.
So, in pictures, here is the base on which the pan sits –
I think that little silver button is part of the temperature sensing system. Or maybe it doesn’t heat up if the pot isn’t sitting on the base. I don’t know for sure – haven’t had a reason to play with that. The top of it is a black metal surface with lots of grooves in it, kind of like a vinyl album. The cord to plug this in is short. They assume you have an outlet close to where you want to use it.
Here is the pot that the jam or jelly cooks in –
The stirrer is some kind of polymer and has a metal shaft imbedded into it –
The metal shaft has a flat on one side and drops into the center of the base through the hole in the middle of the pot. You turn the stirrer until it seats all the way into the center hole so that it will stir.
And finally, the glass lid –
You can see that there are holes along the edge of the lid’s rim to let steam out as it cooks. You do NOT want to set the lid into cold water after it has finished a cycle of jam making, or at least not unless you want to have to replace it. Glass doesn’t like that kind of temperature change. You can see the black knob on the lid that has to be installed.
That’s it – no more parts. The only thing you can’t put in the dishwasher (if you have one) is the base – duh! I guess they have to put it in the manual, but they say don’t submerge the base in water. That would seem like a no-brainer to me, but I must be a genius. Here’s the whole thing put together and ready to run –
To get into the operation of the it, here’s the control panel on the base –
Those two lines are what displays when you plug it in, before you start it up. Pretty simple controls. Press the “jam” button and the display changes to “21” – the length of the cycle in minutes – and pressing “jelly” will give you 25 minutes. You can press the minus or plus button to add or subtract time. I’ve seen recipes that tell you to increase it to the maximum cycle length of 30 minutes, but so far nothing that requires less than 21 minutes. Actually, I’m not sure how little time you can set it to.
Before pressing the “enter” button you can change whether you want jam or jelly and can make adjustments to the time setting. Once you press the “enter” button you are committed. You can press the “cancel” button at any time and it will stop, but the J&J (Jelly & Jam) Maker needs to cool down between batches. The manual says it needs 30 minutes to do so, so if your unit has already started running when you hit “cancel” it may take a little while before you will be able to start it again. Make sure you have chosen the right cycle and time to avoid having to cancel and wait.
After you have added your ingredients and started the J&J Maker, the stirrer starts stirring and the timer counts down. After four minutes it beeps several times to tell you it is time to add whatever sweetener you are using. Don’t expect to hear this in another room if it isn’t close to the kitchen – it’s not a loud beep. The stirrer keeps stirring while you add the sweetener (you’re not supposed to just dump it all in at once) and the time keeps counting down. For jam you put the lid on after adding the sweetener, but not for jelly.
At the end of the cycle the J&J Maker beeps again, at which time you press the “cancel” button and unplug the appliance. You’ll note that the display changes to “CO” once you press “cancel.” This means the machine is in cool down and won’t run again until cool enough. As mentioned earlier, the manual says 30 minutes to cool enough, but either I lost track of time during the cool down or it actually can take just a little less than the full 30 minutes. I assume when you plug it back in and the “CO” is gone and the two dashes are there, it is ready to go.
When the J&J Maker has finished running you take the stirrer out, using a hot pad or oven mitt. They tell you to be careful of the metal shaft because it will be hot, but I’ll tell you not to expect to hold onto the top of it for long either right at first, because the whole thing will be hot!
While ladling jam into jars I found that when I got to the last jar, I was able to hold the handle on one side of the pot to tilt it to get the jam to one side. Don’t take my word for this, though. Use a hot pad to grab it, or at least test whether it is hot first or not. I found a rubber (actually silicone) spatula useful for scraping the last bits of jam to one side.
As a rule, the recipes make about two pints of finished product. This works fine for me, yielding four half-pints of jam or jelly. There are people who say you can push this, but if you guess wrong you are going to have a mess to deal with, not to mention a hassle trying to salvage any jam or jelly. There are also recipes for things like tomato and pizza sauce as well as jelly and jam, but I haven’t tried them yet.
I think that’s about it. If anything above conflicts with the manual that came with your J&J Maker, follow the manual. Your safety is your responsibility.