Monkey Jam

Bananas are a staple at our house. Because of my ADHD, my body has this bad habit of burning off important minerals – like potassium. Without it, you end up with horrible cramps if you do any strenuous work – something I do a lot of – so bananas have become a necessity when we go to the store.

No matter how many we end up using, there is always one or two that end up going over-ripe before they can get used or eaten. Instead of throwing those away, we freeze them with the intention of using them in baking at a later time. In our defense, I have made more than one (failed) attempt at making banana bread and other things with them, but I certainly haven’t kept up with the increasing space that the frozen bananas are taking up in our freezers. A few days ago, I came across a recipe for Banana Jam (also called Monkey Jam). I figured I would give it a try.

The concept for the recipe seemed pretty straight forward but I chose to follow my own recipe instead for various reasons. First, I used a crock pot instead of a pot on the stove. This has worked well for me before and it seemed the way to go this time. Second, I used far less sugar than the recipe called for (I have cut WAY back on my sugar intake for medical reasons)¬†and did use liquid pectin to make up for it so the jam would properly jell. This is the recipe I used –

5 quarts of peeled bananas
5 cups of sugar
1 package of Certo brand Sure Jell Premium liquid fruit pectin

1) I defrosted the bananas overnight and in the morning, I peeled them into the crockpot. As a general rule, 4- 5 bananas yield about a pint – but your mileage may vary. I ended up with about five quarts of bananas in the crock pot.

2) I cooked the bananas for 3 hours on low. You don’t want to stir the bananas initially because you lose a lot of heat in a crockpot when you open the lid.

3) After three hours, I was able to mash the bananas with a potato masher. What consistency you want is up to you. I wanted a fairly pulpy consistency, so I didn’t over-mash the bananas.

4) Add the sugar and the pectin. According to the original recipe I started with, they didn’t add pectin as bananas have a lot of natural pectin and they used a LOT of sugar in their recipe. I didn’t want anything that overly sweet, so I reduced the amount of sugar and added pectin. The amount of sugar I added was based on tasting the mixture after adding the sugar. I found a median amount that maintained the banana flavor but wasn’t overly sweet. This is a matter of personal preference – feel free to experiment on your own with this.

5) Cook the mixture on high for 2 hours stirring every 20 – 30 minutes. If you want thicker jam, leave the lid off the crock pot and cover it with a metal splatter screen. This allows excess moisture to cook off, making your jam thicker. Don’t cook it too long like this, though, or it will give your jam a burnt flavor.

6) While the mixture is cooking down, prepare your canning jars and your hot water bath.

(NOTE – This write-up assumes that you know how to water bath can. If this is new to you, please research this method of canning. Attempting to can fruit in a pressure cooker can be dangerous and is highly discouraged under most circumstances)

7) Ladle the mixture into your canning jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Process time for cup size jars is 10 minutes (adjusted by altitude – meaning that, for me, that means 25 minutes because we are at 5000 feet).

This recipe yielded 21 cup sized jelly jars. The recipe was very successful and the jam set up nicely. The consistency was perfect for jam and the flavor was what I was shooting for.

Some variations you might try –

A) if you want your Monkey Jam to take more like banana bread, substitute ONE of the cups of sugar with a cup of packed brown sugar and add one teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg

B) if you are looking for a consistency similar to apple butter, I would suggest running the warm banana mixture though a blender at slow speed before you add the sugar and pectin.

While I am very pleased with the results of this recipe, my next batch (and yes, we still have lots of frozen bananas in our freezer.. ) will be an attempt at making Strawberry/Banana Jam.

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