Making freezer jelly

char_35October 5, 2012

It's that time of year to make my crab apple jelly. I picked my crabapples 2 weeks ago and finally had time for the jelly. But it did not turn out thick enough.

Now I have to Re-do.

I'm not sure what to add more of to get it to thicken.

This is what I started with : 5 lb. apples whole

6 c. water

I boiled apples for 1 1/2 hrs. I got 54 oz. of juice.

Added about 3-4 c. sugar. and 1 pouch Sure-Jell Certo (blue box). Boiled it 1 1/2 min. Looks great, but not thick enough. More sugar?, more pectin? more boiling? HELP!

Looking forward to suggestions. Thanks.

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Char, commercial pectin only works if there is a specific ratio of sugar to acid/fruit, so you can't just take "about 3-4 cups" and dump it in and expect a jell, it is almost guaranteed not to work.

I don't use the stuff, outside of pepper jelly, and simply boil the juice and sugar until it reaches jell point. Crabapples are high in pectin, so it should work, although recipes usually call for 3 cups of sugar to 4 cups of juice, that's twice the sugar you used.

Here are the instructions from the National Center for Home Food Preservation regarding remaking jelly, either with or without additional pectin:

Remaking Soft Jellies
Measure jelly to be recooked. Work with no more than 4 to 6 cups at a time.

To Remake With Powdered Pectin

For each quart of jelly, mix 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 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 1/2 minute. Remove from heat, quickly skim foam off jelly, and fill sterile jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust new lids and process as recommended.

To Remake With Liquid Pectin

For each quart of jelly, measure 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons liquid pectin. Bring jelly only 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 off foam and fill sterile jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust new lids and process as recommended.

To Remake Without Added Pectin

For each quart of jelly, add 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice. Heat to boiling and boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Use one of the tests described in Testing Jelly without Added Pectin to determine jelly doneness. Remove from heat, quickly skim off foam, and fill sterile jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust new lids and process as recommended.

Good luck! I've reprocessed some jelly and I don't like the texture as much, it can become very rubbery, like gummy bears. Of course, I often get taffy when I overcook in the first place...


    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 11:50PM
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In a lot of ways jelly-making is as particular as baking. There are many ways it can go wrong.

I think one of the problems is the 6 cups of water, which considerably reduced the pectin level of the juice. Then it's long-boiled, which further reduces the pectin strength.

I'm guessing it's a combination of too much water + too much boiling + too little sugar. Ironically, commercial pectin requires more sugar to reach the correct setting ratio (unless you're using a low-sugar pectin which is formulated differently).

I think Annie is right that re-processing usually results in a disappointing product. You might use the thin jelly as a base to improve the set in other jelly recipes, including pepper jelly. Or baste cake layers with it to keep them moist before frosting, drizzle through yogurt, etc. There are always ways to salvage a thin jelly. If the flavor is good, I'd leave well enough alone and use it as-is.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 3:42AM
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I make crabapple jelly sort of by the seat of my pants!
I pick the crabapples and wash and look over for any obviously bad ones.
Then I put them into my bit stock pot ( say 4 qts of fruit) and add enough water to keep the apples from sticking...maybe 1 1/2 cups...maybe a little more. I cook the fruit until it's soft....mashing as it cooks with a potato masher. When all the fruit is cooked through I pour the cooked fruit into my jelly bag and hang it with a string and a broom stick over a big bowl and allow the juice to drup.....after an hour or more I may squeeze the bag a little, knowing I am sacrificing crystal clear jelly for more jelly.
then I measure the juice, add an equal measure of sugar, return to the stove and cook at a rolling boil until it reaches the jell point. I determine that by the way the cooking syrup slides off the metal spoon, but you can put a few drops on a very cold plate that has been in the refrigerator.
To fix your too soft jelly I would boil it more....boil until it tests "jelly" by the cold plate method.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 12:35PM
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Could I started by boiling the jelly and trying to get the proper thickness and then if it did not work could I still try adding the water, sugar, pectin and lemon as suggested?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 2:02PM
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Char, if I were set on making it jell, that's what I would do. First I'd cook it to jell point, which, as I mentioned, is 218F-220F here. I use a frozen plate to test jelly, I put the plate in the freezer, cook the jelly and when I think it's right, I dab a drop on the frozen plate. Back into the freezer for a minute and if it firms up and doesn't run, it's ready.

I think Carol is right that there was too much water and not enough sugar, so a cup of sugar while boiling wouldn't hurt either, along with a bit of lemon juice unless you love the taste the way it is and don't want it any sweeter.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 2:42PM
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I'm happy to say that boiling the jelly for 15 min. longer, adding a 2 more cups of sugar and a teaspoon of lemon did the trick. I haven't tasted it yet, but the cooking spoon and pan tasted good. ;))
Thank you all for your suggestions. I learned a valuable lesson on being precise!!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 3:33PM
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Hooray, I'm glad you "saved" it, although it would have been an awesome base for a grill glaze on chicken or salmon.


    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 5:35PM
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