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Jellies and Jams

Follow these tips for processing jellies and jams.

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Tips for Ingredients:

  • Fruits should be at their peak of freshness for best flavor and color. Canned or frozen unsweetened fruit or juice can be used.
  • Pectin is necessary for jelling. It is naturally present in some fruits or can be added in a powdered or liquid form. Do not substitute one form of pectin for another; add pectin exactly as specified in the recipe. Using less pectin than the recipe suggests is likely to produce a syrup rather than a jelly or jam. Be sure to use the pectin by the date indicated on its package.
  • Sugar acts as a preservative, develops the flavor, and aids in jelling. Always use the amount of sugar specified in a recipe.
  • Acid is needed for proper jelling and for flavor. When fruits are low in acid, recipes call for adding lemon juice or citric acid.
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Cooking Tips:

  • Prepare only one batch at a time. Do not try to double the recipe.
  • Vigorous boiling is part of jellymaking. A full rolling boil is one so rapid that you can't stir it down. To prevent it from boiling over, fill a pan no more than one-third full.
  • A mixture will sheet off a spoon when it has reached its jelling point. To test it, dip a metal spoon into the boiling mixture, then hold it over the kettle. If mixture is done, two drops will hang off the edge of the spoon, then run together in a sheetlike action. You can also use a candy thermometer to find when the jelling point is reached (8 degrees F above the boiling point of water -- or 220 degrees F at sea level).
  • Foam is a natural result of boiling. Quickly skim it off with a large metal spoon before ladling jelly into sterilized jars. Process jellies and jams in a boiling-water canner. For locations with altitudes below 1,000 feet above sea level, process for five minutes. Add one minute for each additional 1,000 feet.
  • After processing, let jellies and jams sit for 12 to 24 hours or until set. Use within six months.
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