Jam and Jelly problems

Jar of strawberry jam

We have been getting a lot of calls and questions about problems with jams and jellies in the last few weeks.

We do have directions for remaking jams and jellies and often give this information to callers. The remade jam or jelly will be a slightly different flavor and texture as the directions call for adding more sugar and pectin but no more fruit or fruit juice. These directions will allow you to save the jelly or jam and still have a spreadable product.

Other callers have been concerned about jam that was too stiff to spread without breaking the bread. Their jam may have been overcooked or they may have chosen too much under-ripe fruit. The under-ripe fruit contains more naturally occurring pectin than ripe fruit and the extra pectin could make a stiff jel.

Jelly or jam containing many bubbles may actually be fermenting in the jar. This product may not have been heated enough before filling jars or it may have been under-processed during canning.

If you find crystals that seem like glass, especially in grape jelly, it would be tartrate crystals. Letting the juice stand overnight in the refrigerator and then straining the juice before making jelly can eliminate this problem.

Jam that appears to have a layer of jelly on the bottom and then floating fruit in the rest of the jar is a common problem. We often see this in strawberry jam. Floating fruit is due to a difference in density between the fruit and the liquid. If this your problem, try cutting the fruit into smaller pieces and using only ripe fruit to make jam.

We love to help callers with jam and jelly problems, please contact us and we will do our best to help.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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4 thoughts on “Jam and Jelly problems

  1. I made Jalapeno jelly for the first time and it was really good tasting but ended up like a really thick syrup. Any ideas on what i did wrong?

    Thank You!

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