Tips for Making Great Jelly
Jelly generally use the whole fruit, including the peel and core which contain a lot of pectin, the natural sugar within a fruit to make it jell.
When making jelly, use open stainless-steel cookware and add only the amount of water called for by the recipe. Cover, bring to boil and cook the fruit until it is soft and the juices are flowing.
Suspend a jelly bag (or a cheesecloth) over a colander over a large bowl, and pour the cooked fruit into the bag. For the best results, let it sit overnight. If you squeeze the bag to extract the juice faster, you’ll still get good juice, but it will be cloudy, and so will your jelly.
Remember: acid thickens the juice while pectin will jell the juice when it is cooked. With some fruits, the extracted juice will contain all of the necessary ingredients without supplement, like tart apples, blackberries, and some grapes. With others, such as apricots, peaches, and raspberries, you will have to add either acid, pectin, or both. Additional pectin must be added to these types of fruits to make them jell properly. You can buy artificial pectin at your local grocery store one name that I use is Sure Jell, available in both powdered and liquid form, be sure to follow the directions. You can use lemon juice as a substitute for acid.
Don’t forget sugar! Sugar increases the volume of the juice, sweetens it, sets the gel, and helps prevent mold and fermentation. Low-pectin fruit jelly can be made by combining the low-pectin juice with apple, half and half, and using 2/3 cup of sugar for each cup of juice. If you are using blueberries or strawberries, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice for every 2 cups of jelly juice.
From the exact combination of juice, acid, pectin, and sugar to the temperature you heat your jelly to, everything has to be exact. In general, when no added pectin is used, the jelly stage is reached at 8°F above the boiling point of water. The boiling point for water is about 212°F at 1,000 feet or less. You can use a candy thermometer to determine the actual temperature at which water breaks into a boil in your own kitchen.
There are several ways you can test whether or not your jelly is jelled. Use a candy thermometer, but if you don’t have one, take a spoonful of the juice five minutes after you’ve added the sugar, let it cool for a minute, then tip the spoon back into the kettle. If the juice runs together at the edge and “sheets” off the spoon, then you’re ready to pour. Also, you could take a saucer of the juice and stick it in the freezer for a few minutes. If it firms in that time, you’re good to go.
Wash and sterilize your jars and caps beforehand by heating a pot of cold water that is gradually brought to a boiling point. Turn off the heat and leave the glasses in the pot until you are ready to use them they should still be hot when you pour in the jelly. Drain the glasses and place them on a level surface.
Skim the foam of the jelly, and ladle it into your jars as soon as it is ready. Be careful not to slop any over the sides. If you do, wipe it off before you put the tops on. After you pour the jelly, stir it around once with a teaspoon to eliminate air bubbles.
Jasmine Tea Jelly
4 cups water
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup loose-leaf jasmine green tea
1 1 3/4 ounce package regular powdered fruit pectin or 6 tablespoons classic powdered fruit pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
5 cups sugar
In a medium saucepan combine the water and ginger. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in tea. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large liquid measuring cup; discard solids. Measure exactly 3 1/2 cups liquid, adding water or discarding liquid if necessary.
Transfer the 3 1/2 cups liquid to a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot. Stir in pectin and lemon juice. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon.
Ladle hot jelly into hot sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids and screw bands.
Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks. Makes 6 half-pints.
2 ounces assorted mixed fresh herb sprigs and/or edible flower petals (such as nasturtiums, pansies, violets, violas, rose petals, calendulas, marigolds, dianthuses, daylilies, and/or geraniums)*
3 cups unsweetened apple juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
Few drops yellow food coloring (optional)
1 1 3/4 ounce package regular powdered fruit pectin
4 cups sugar
Gently wash herb sprigs and/or flower petals in water. Drain; place herbs or petals on paper towels and gently blot. Chop herbs with stems attached. Place 1 to 1 1/2 cups firmly packed chopped leaves and stems or flower petals in an 8- to 10-quart heavy pot. Add apple juice.
Bring juice mixture to boiling, stirring occasionally. Boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand for 10 minutes.
Line a strainer or colander with a double layer of 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth; set over a large bowl. Strain herb and/or flower mixture through cheesecloth, pressing to extract all of the juice. Measure 3 cups juice mixture, adding additional apple juice, if necessary. Discard stems, leaves, and petals.
In the same pot, combine juice mixture, lemon juice, and, if desired, food coloring. Stir pectin into mixture in pot. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar. Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon.
Ladle hot jelly into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids.
Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.