Sauce

The Unexpected Ingredient for Perfectly Set Fruit Jams

June 23, 2016

A not-runny berry filling—for toast, for layer cake, for crumble bars—with none of the stickiness or mutedness from cornstarch, flour, or tapioca starch?

Kiwis are key.

In 2013, Cathy Barrow—known as MrsWheelbarrow on Food52—found the secret to perfectly set strawberry jam that won't run off your biscuits or slide down a pastry crust.

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"Just add a kiwi," she wrote—as if adding a kiwi were the totally naturally thing to do:

Packed with natural pectin, it will make any jam gel. Kiwi’s flavor is subtle, slightly tart and not at all intrusive. [...] Your jam will hold together beautifully, tasting of strawberries and sunshine and nothing more.

And so, a diced kiwi travels along with the strawberries as they're macerated, cooked, and canned—and everyone is better for it.

EmilyC found out about the smart tip and repurposed it in her Mixed Berry and Walnut Crumble Bars. Since the berries don't get cooked on the stove before they're layered between the base and the sandy top, EmilyC grates the kiwi instead of chopping it:

The extra step of cooking the berries seemed way too fussy for a crumble bar, so I peeled and grated the kiwi before adding it to my berries, similar to adding grated apple to thicken fruit pie or pastry. It worked like a charm: the berry filling was juicy and perfectly set, without any of the gumminess that comes from cornstarch or flour.

Make these with any combination of fruit, frozen or fresh. Go one-hundred percent blueberry or use a mix of strawberries, blackberries, and gooseberries (?!). Either way, you won't be able to taste the kiwi (unless, that is, you make kiwi jam—which, because of all that natural pectin, should gel perfectly).

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Do you need to cook the jam for the kiwi to release its pectin goodness or would this work in a freezer jam? I have a recipe for strawberry freezer jam that uses pectin and doesn't get cooked. I'm curious if I could throw in a kiwi instead of using the pectin.”
— Julie
Comment

Your most unusual use for a kiwi? Tell us in the comments below.

11 Comments

judy September 9, 2017
JUlie's question is a good one. But also 2 VERY good Tips here: one in the blog: kiwi to replace pectin or cornstarch in fruit jams or fillings. In the questions below the suggestion for kiwi in a marinade for beef. I am going to try that--my beef is ALWAYS tough. Thanks all.
 
Kathy June 30, 2016
Julie's question...I would love to know too.
 
Katherine June 27, 2016
Thank you, HalfPint.
 
Katherine June 26, 2016
Question: wonder if kiwis could be used to clear up runny pie syndrome, or would it cause the ingredients to mush up? Hate to make a pie and find out the hard way.
 
HalfPint June 27, 2016
I think kiwi will probaby work. It won't mush up because, heat would inactivate the enzyme that tenderizes, and the fruit isn't marinating hours with the kiwi. Look for recipes that use pectin as a pie filling thickener. I just don't know how much kiwi you need to use.<br /><br />For runny pies, you can mix the fruit and sugar together to macerate, collect the juices that run out, and cook this juice until it's syrupy. Then add it back to the fruit filling and bake your pie.
 
Sandy June 26, 2016
I would like to know the answer to Julie's question also.
 
AntoniaJames June 24, 2016
Citrus pips are another fine source of pectin. More info in my answer here: https://food52.com/hotline/31533-where-is-the-recipe-for-making-lemon-syrup-with-used-lemon-halves <br />L-J should do a piece on this. ;o)
 
HalfPint June 23, 2016
I use kiwi as a natural meat tenderizer since it's rich in actinidin, an enzyme that breaks down protein. Chop up a kiwi and add to marinade. Something I learned when I got into Korean cooking.
 
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Sarah J. June 23, 2016
WOW!! Such a cool tip! Any kind of meat in particular? Does the kiwi flavor come through?
 
HalfPint June 24, 2016
@sarah jampel, I think any tough cut of meat would benefit from a little kiwi in the marinade. I've used kiwi for tenderizing beef mostly. A few hours at the most. Don't marinate overnight or you'll get mush. The kiwi flavor is virtually undetectable, especially if you got other more assertive flavors or seasonings, like soy sauce, ginger, etc.
 
Julie June 23, 2016
Do you need to cook the jam for the kiwi to release its pectin goodness or would this work in a freezer jam? I have a recipe for strawberry freezer jam that uses pectin and doesn't get cooked. I'm curious if I could throw in a kiwi instead of using the pectin.