Does it seem like you have to be a millionaire to do things the hard way?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Okay, so I spent about $20 today to buy strawberries, jars, sugar, and pectin to make homemade strawberry jam. It didn't turn out very well. It tastes good and sealed fine, but is runny, more the consistency of syrup than jam. I used a recipe and directions from Blue Ball Canning Book. Did everything according to direction, I think. Any ideas on what I am doing wrong????
-- Patti (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 17, 2000
Sounds like you didn't heat it to the right temp., bad therm., or typo in the book? Maybe they'll give you freebies if you contact the company
-- Kathy (email@example.com), June 17, 2000.
Patti, sounds like you've made some yummy ice cream topping to me. I think the Ball book has a trouble-shooting guide in it. I solved the problem by making only freezer jams. It can be tricky to recognize exactly when the jelly has jelled. Gerbil
-- Gerbil (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 17, 2000.
Same thing happened to me with the watermelon jelly. I just left it and we are using it for syrup on our homemade whole wheat waffles! I think my problem stemmed from doubling the recipe...something I read later that you are not supposed to do when making jelly. I'll try again around the fourth when the watermelons go on sale again. I'm hoping to get it right, find some cheap end of the year watermelon dish mark down and a few other nifty items to make gift baskets with for Christmas. I have fun just trying...it is a lot more work and costs more, but I love it.
-- Jennifer (KY) (email@example.com), June 17, 2000.
If it sets, you have jam, if it is runny, you made strawberry sauce and it is great on ice cream, pancakes and waffles. You tell everyone it is sauce and it's supposed to be that way:)
-- Laura (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 18, 2000.
Patti, I loved the title to your post! Yes, it does seem that way sometimes, doesn't it? Today it sounds humorous...often it doesn't, but I benefitted from reading what you had to say....it happens to me all the time..what a learning curve. Aren't we brave? Thanks for sharing.
-- sheepish (email@example.com), June 18, 2000.
My wife, the chief cook and bottle washer in this house, had this happen once or twice. She said it happened on really ripe fruit because of a lack of pectin. She speculated that you might have to add more pectin or pectin substitute to get it to jell. Yes, I think I probably spend more being independant than I would if I was a "follower". There is a new song on the charts that says it best. Life might mean taking chances but, they're worth taking. Love might be a mistake but, it's worth making. And, if you ever get a chance to sit it out or dance--I hope you, Dance !
-- Joel Rosen (Joel681@webtv.net), June 18, 2000.
I have had this happen as well..usually when I do not let it boil enough......other answers are 100% correct..makes great ice cream topping !!!! Enjoy !
-- Lesley Chasko (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 18, 2000.
The direction in your sure-jell will also tell you that jam may take up to 2 weeks to set up. (Harden) Wait a little before you give up on it. I have reheated and added more pectin, but that is a guessing game and strawberry syrup is good on lots of things.
-- Jill (AZ) (email@example.com), June 18, 2000.
Some of my mistakes turned out the best results. Wish I knew what I did wrong.
-- Cindy (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 18, 2000.
I've found by adding an apple or 2 jam comes out better.... surely because apples are full of pectin.By the way I have told that the pectin you buy (SUR-JEL or whatever the name is) is pretty canceroginus stuff..... I still use it sometimes 'cause it sure does make jam making easier!
-- kelly (email@example.com), June 19, 2000.
I never use pectin for jam BUT you have to watch your temps & timing very carefully - do not overcook, that can make it thin & you will have that scorched taste. By trial & error I learned to stop cooking earlier, it thickens as it cools. Like others have said, give the jam some time in the jars, to set up. Keep at it, though, you will learn from experience!
-- Jean (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 19, 2000.
Don't give up - when you try to make jams/jellies again, test it before you put it in the jars. I place a saucer in the freezer while I am making the jelly, and when it looks close to done (or the time according to the recipe is close), I remove the plate from the freezer, pour a spoonful of the hot jelly on it, put it back into the freezer for a few minutes, and then run my finger through it. If it's still too runny, I cook it a bit more (temp IS important).If the liquid has started to firm up and the edges are jelled, take the pot off the heat and start filling those jars.
For future reference, Pomona's Pectin is excellent - and you can double or triple the recipe with no difficulty. I have seen it for sale at natural food stores, or you can order it directly from the company. Address (snail mail): Pomona's Universal Pectin P.O.Box 1083 Greenfield,MA 01302.
To quote the box:
"Pomona's Universal Pectin is a low methoxyl type pectin derived from citrus peels and pulp. Its jelling power is activated by the calcium naturally present in most fruits, not by sugar content"
This product also provides calcium powder for those fruits low in calcium. I like this pectin because the sugar content could be lowered (or even eliminated ) and the flavor of the fruit really comes through.
Good luck, and happy canning! Judi in CT
-- Judi (email@example.com), June 19, 2000.
But Patti, twenty bucks is cheap to eventually learn how to make killer strawberry jam! And no better way to learn than to jump in there and try it. So, you made tasty strawberry something, and now you've got your jars and your Blue Book invested already for the next recipe. After a few experiments, you'll have it down, and put up a year's supply of preserves and zip right past the jelly aisle at the store.
And, what is the value of experience?
-- Rachel (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 19, 2000.
I made a killer batch of strawberry syrup last year, no really, I meant to do that...I used sure-jell and the Ball canning book. Boiled it to death and it didnt set up. I made more jam later and didnt use the Ball book but did use sure jell and it worked.
-- William in WI (email@example.com), June 19, 2000.
I just had this same problem trying to make Blueberry jam. I used the freezer method but it didn't jell up. This was particlarly frustrating because I just did a large batch of strawberry freezer jam several weeks ago and that jelled up just fine. Go figure. Since the freezer method doesn't call for cooking the blueberries, it also didn't have a nice dark color. I stuck the jars in the freezer after 24 hours anyway and one of these days I am going to take them all out, cook them up and make them into blueberry syrup. Luckily, I had only used half of my blueberries to try to make the jam so I am going to try it again with the rest of them or I'll just make them into syrup. Either way, I won't lose the blueberries.
-- Colleen (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 19, 2000.
I tried to make black cherry jelly a couple of years ago, and ended up with yummy ice cream topping, pancake syrup, etc.! Last year there weren't enough of them to pick, but it looks like there might be this year, so I can try again!!
-- Kathleen Sanderson (email@example.com), June 19, 2000.
This is my fourth year of canning and making jams and jellies and I still make mistakes....but most of them are edible!!!
The more I learn the better it gets. I've found patience to be one of the best teachers!!! And now that I have a pretty good stash of pint and quart fruit jars and have to buy only the lids each year it is much less expensive.
-- Suzy in 'Bama (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 20, 2000.
My first batch turned out that way. My aunt, who was teaching me said I overcrushed the berries.
-- Anne Tower (email@example.com), June 22, 2000.
I've never made jam or jelly (or canned anything for that matter), but I have a suggestion for using the strawberry syrup... put in in milk for the kiddies. It is just like the Nestle Strawberry milk (only probably tastier and more nutritious)! Just a thought!! I wouldn't give up on it though, if you're creative, you'll have used up all of it before you know it! ...strawberry pies, cakes, icecream, waffles, muffins...mmmm my mouth is watering!!! :o)
-- Linda (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 22, 2000.
Next time, try adding pectin to fruit or juice and let set for 10 to 30 min. I usually let it set while I get everything ready. Jels much better! Also, you need to get someone who knows to show you what it looks like when sheeting off the spoon and ready to jell. Once you've seen it, you'll recognize it every time.
-- BarbFischer (email@example.com), June 23, 2000.
Agree with Kelly on this one, if you add a fruit like plums or apples that are high in natural pectin, and also measure your sugar correctly. A trick my mom taught me was to put a teaspoon of your finished hot jam into a container of ice water, you will see very quickly how your product is going to set. Another great use for unset Jam or jelly is to pour over cakes as iceing, using it for a base for the gell in strawberry pie, or layered with angelfood type cake and layers of your jelly/jam and topped with cream, for a pretty parfait in a glass. Vicki
-- Vicki McGaugh (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 23, 2000.
Kindness, one post to another, boggles a mind. It exists, I did not dream it up. Let these words flow into infamy, for those who can hear.
-- Sinner (email@example.com), June 23, 2000.
Eureka! There is hope for the jelly-impaired! I just finished up a large batch of black raspberry jam that I was having the same trouble with. Boiled it and boiled it and boiled it and it was still runny. I pulled out my trusty Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery hoping for a miracle cure but not really expecting one, when, lo and behold, there was a solution for my problem. Unflavored gelatin. The book said to sprinkle 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (Knox or the equivalent)for every 4 cups of runny jam/jelly. I eyeballed my kettle and decided that I needed about 6 packets (yes, I doubled, or maybe quadrupled the recipe... definitely not a good idea!). It worked like a charm. I canned 14 pints from that batch and every one of them set up. Hope this tip helps some of my fellow syrup makers out there!
-- Sandy (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 24, 2000.
Thanks everyone for your input. I have delicious strawberry syrup. I also bought somemore strawberries on sale and made a couple more batches, only this time I tried the freezer jam and it turned out perfect. It was a good feeling to put all that good homemade syrup and jam in the root cellar!!
-- Patti (email@example.com), July 15, 2000.
Wish me luck all, as I am about to attemp to make Strawberry Jam!!!
-- Angela Kaul (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 05, 2001.