June 8, 2021 - 8:00am -- lehman.488@osu.edu

As June continues, many of us are looking forward to the season for jams and jellies with our locally grown berries and soon to come fruits.  Those favorite toppings for breads, pancakes, and of course, ice cream are some of the ones we look forward to every year.  Sometimes other fruit spreads are used as an addition to meats or side dishes.  Following is a quick definition for the types of products:

  • Jams – crushed/chopped fruit with sugar
  • Jellies – fruit juice with sugar
  • Preserves – spread with small whole fruit/fruit pieces in a slightly gelled syrup
  • Conserves – jam-like, may contain a mix of fruits, nuts, raisins, or coconut
  • Marmalades – soft fruit jellies with small pieces of fruit/peel – often citrus
  • Fruit butters – fruit pulp cooked with sugar until thick, not gelled

Whichever is your favorite, there is a recipe for success in that the amount of fruit, pectin, sugar, and acid have to be in the correct proportion for the product to set correctly.  Let’s look at each one a little more closely.

Fruits:  Some fruits have natural pectin like sour apples, blackberries and grapes while others need additional pectin to be successful like peaches, pears and strawberries.  For a complete list check out Ohioline fact sheet on Jams, Jellies and other Fruit Spreads (https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5350)

Sugar- Granulated sugar is the choice for most recipes.  Sweeteners such as brown sugar, sorghum, and molasses are not recommended because their flavors overpower the fruit and sweetness may vary. Extra fine sugar or sugar blends with dextrose, fructose, or other sweetener added should not be used. You can replace part but not all of the sugar with light corn syrup or light, mild honey. For best results, use tested recipes that specify honey or corn syrup.

Artificial sweeteners cannot be substituted for sugar in regular recipes; sugar is needed for gel formation. Jellied fruit products without added sugar must be made using special recipes or special jelling products. Check out specific brand web pages for recipes they’ve tested for success.

Pectin is a natural substance found in fruit that causes the juice to gel or set.  Most often we need to add additional pectin to achieve the type of set we desire for jams and jellies.  Be sure to follow the recipe when using commercial pectin as powered and liquid pectin are not interchangeable in recipesIf choosing a lowered sugar recipe, make sure to use a pectin designed for lowered sugar.

Acid if called for is usually lemon juice and is essential for the pectin and sugar to form the proper gel formation.

Recipe- for best success, don’t double the recipe.  The chance of it not setting properly increases. For best quality, only make what you will use within the year.  If using a freezer recipe store in sealable containers, label and freeze.  If using a recipe to process, pour pot jam or jelly into half-pint or pint jars and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

If the product doesn’t set within 12-24 hours you may reprocess it with the following directions.  Start with 1 cup to test, and if that’s successful, do not remake more than 4-6 cups at one time.  Use the same type of pectin that the original recipe called for best results.  If remake directions are included with your recipe, follow those.  If not, here’s a basic version:

Remaking with powdered pectin: For each quart of jelly, combine ¼ cup sugar, ½ cup water, 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice, and 4 teaspoons powdered pectin. Bring to a boil while stirring. Add jelly and bring to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil hard ½ minute. Remove from heat, quickly skim foam off jelly, and fill sterile jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Adjust new lids and process.

Remaking with liquid pectin: For each quart of jelly, measure ¾ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons liquid pectin. Bring jelly to boil over high heat while stirring. Remove from heat and quickly add the sugar, lemon juice, and pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute. Quickly skim foam off jelly and fill sterile jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Adjust new lids and process.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 330-264-8722 or wayne.osu.edu   Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.

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