Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Making Jams and Jellies Takes Extra Time

So much work goes in to picking and preparing fruit to make jellied products that you want to be sure it turns out the way you expected.
That is why Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension, regularly offer tips that are key to making successful jams and jellies.
“Pectin is used to help the fruit to gel. There is naturally some pectin in fruit and there is more pectin in fruit that is just under-ripe,” said Roberts.
That is why the recommendation for making jellied products without added pectin is to use three-fourths fully ripe fruit and one-quarter slightly under-ripe fruit in the recipe. Some fruits (like tart apples, sour plums, concord grapes, gooseberries, and crabapples) can be used to make jelly with no added pectin included.
“If you are using pectin in your recipe, follow the recipe exactly. You cannot substitute liquid pectin for dry or vice-versa,” said Roberts.
She also recommends using a large heavy metal pot during the process because jams and jellies tend to boil over. The heavy metal allows for more even heat distribution.
“I also recommend not doubling a recipe when making jelly because a doubled recipe does not always gel properly,” said Roberts.
For persons who have made a batch of jelly but have been unhappy with the consistency, there are some general recommendations for changing the consistency of the end product in the next batch.
“If your first batch was too firm, try using one-quarter to one-half cup more of the fruit or juice in the next batch. If the first batch was too soft, you can decrease the fruit or juice by one-quarter to one-half cup. If you are using a recipe with no added pectin and want to make a softer jelly, decrease the cooking time. If you would like to make a firmer product, increase the cooking time,” said Roberts.
Some people may want to make jelly with products other than sugar. To make a lower calorie spread, there are special pectins made just for that purpose.
Corn syrup or honey can be substituted for part of the sugar in recipes but Roberts says too much can mask the flavor of the fruit. When using corn syrup or honey, recipes with no added pectin may require longer boiling. Those that have pectin added may need less liquid.
“A general rule of thumb is to leave out one to two tablespoons of juice for every one-quarter cup of honey or corn syrup in the recipe,” said Roberts.
Up to two cups of honey can replace two cups of sugar in products made with added pectin. Honey can replace half of the sugar in recipes using no added pectin.
Corn syrup can replace one-quarter of the sugar in jams and jellies without added pectin and can replace up to one-half of the sugar when powdered pectin is used.
“One last thing to remember is that putting the lid on the jar does not seal the deal. All jams and jellies need to be processed in sterilized jars in a boiling water bath for five minutes to assure maximum food safety,” said Roberts.
For more information on nutrition issues, go online to or contact Tammy Roberts at (417) 682-3579.

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