Jelly and Jam Time

Raspberry jam in a canning jar

May is often the beginning of jelly and jam making time for callers. We often get calls from first time jelly makers. This year there is a resurgence in both gardening and home food preservation. I have already had several calls from people making jam this spring.

Freezer jam or jelly is easier to make than cooked jam or jelly as freezer style does not need to be processed through the boiling water bath canner. You will often need pectin to make freezer jam but it can also be made with Jello. You should know that any jam made with Jello is considered freezer jam and can not be processed in a boiling water bath canner. But any jam that is not freezer jam MUST be processed through the boiling water bath canner unless it is stored in the refrigerator.

Jam and jelly recipes should be followed exactly as written. You should not experiment with these recipes, add extra ingredients, or double these recipes. Following the recipe as written is the only way to guarantee a safe product when you intend to process it in the boiling water bath canner.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has some recipes available in the Preserve the Taste of Summer publications and the National Center for Home Food Preservation also has safe, tested recipes.

If you need a little help when you get started making jelly or jam this year, call us at AnswerLine. We are always glad to help.

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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10 thoughts on “Jelly and Jam Time

  1. How many times can you reprocess unset jam? I made my first ever batch of orange marmalade which tastes wonderful, but it didn’t set.( I used 1/2 a package of powdered pectin.) So I reprocessed the batch adding more pectin (another 1/2 box ) The result was improved but still not the desired consistency. Can I reprocess it one more time adding more pectin or should I just abandon the entire batch?

  2. I don’t know the recipe you have used to make your orange marmalade nor the quantity. It is always best to start with a tested recipe and follow it exactly. The National Center for Home Food Preservation offers this recipe for Orange Marmalade which has No pectin: https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_07/orange_marmalade.html. With minimal information, here’s hoping the marmalade can still be salvaged knowing that each time you cook it, flavor and quality is lost. For each quart of jam to be fixed, mix 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice, and 4 teaspoons powdered pectin in a large pot. Add the jam to the pectin mixture and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Once it is at a rolling boil, then boil it hard for 45 to 60 seconds (1 minute). A “hard boil” is distinctly different from a “rolling boil”. A rolling boil is simply the production of bubbles but is not all-encompassing and may even be stirred down. A hard boil often produces foam and the jam expands, rises to fill the pot, and cannot be stirred away. Don’t over boil–1 minute of a “hard boil”. I also like to test jams and jellies with a cold spoon dipped into the jam, removed, and cooled for a minute. If it thickens appropriately, then I know I am done. If it is still a little soft, it might be appropriate to add a little more pectin and boil another minute.

    Keep in mind that one reason jams and jellies don’t set is because people try to double batches resulting in non-uniform heating. That results in some pectin becoming overcooked and some pectin in the batch undercooked. Never make a new batch of jam or jelly starting with more than 6 cups of crushed fresh or frozen fruit and never try to remake a batch larger than 2.5 quarts.

  3. I tried making strawberry jam few weeks ago. At first it was runny but then I opened the canned jar and added more pectin and sugar according to the pectin packaging. Now the jam is set but when I opened the can, after 1 week the jam started to become cloudy and grainy. It looks as if the cloudy part is spreading to the whole can of jam. How do I fix that? Is it bad to eat that jam?

  4. Adsnmore, There are several possible causes for cloudy jam but most of the causes don’t apply to your situation since your cloudiness appears to be a result of the remake. Too much pectin can cause cloudiness because the jelly sets too fast not allowing air bubbles to rise to the top. Another possible cause is letting the jelly cool too much before pouring into the jar. There is no fix for cloudy jelly, but it’s safe to eat as long as the jars are sealed by way of processing in a hot water bath.

  5. What is the status of using SureJel for your jams and jellies for a 4-H jam project. Following the package directions is that considered acceptable? I’ve heard where it is unacceptable but find that hard to believe.

  6. Hi Christine, thank you for your question. At the present time, jams and jellies made with a pectin product are acceptable 4-H projects when directions have been carefully followed including water bath processing.

  7. If I followed a peach freezer jam recipe using freezer jam pectin, can I reboil it and use water bath canning to make it shelf stable? I’m trying to free up freezer space. I might toss some extra thickener in it as well because it is runnier than I would like.

  8. Hi Natalie, thank you for your question. I can find no research to support what you propose. The pectins used for freezer jams is very different from the pectin used for canning jam. The right pectin for the end use is very important not only for quality, but also for food safety. If you were to thaw the freezer jam and then remake the jam anew using pectin designed for canning, there is much incertainity in my mind about the quality of the jam due to the presence of the freezer pectin already in the jam and in turn the safety of it stored on a shelf. I would not recommend that you do this for these reasons. It is possible to thicken freezer jam using powdered or liquid pectin but storage following remaking is refrigeration or freezing. See:https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/2053/2021/06/Remaking-Soft-Jams-and-Jellies-FS253E.pdf

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