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Making jelly and jam at home is a rewarding experience. If you grew your own fruit that you used to make the jelly it's even more rewarding. I usually make more jelly than my family can use, and give some of it away as Christmas gifts to friends and family. Jelly and jam is surprisingly easy to make. Follow these directions and you can soon be enjoying your own home made jelly or jam too.
Regardless of the flavor of jam or jelly you are going to make, the ingredients are basically the same - crushed fruit or juice, sugar, and pectin. What changes, is the amount of fruit or juice and sugar you will use per batch. This changes depending on the type of fruit you are going to use. If you use one of the brands of pectin I mention below, each box will have a paper inside that tells you how many cups of fruit or juice, and how much sugar to use per batch. It will also tell how many cups of jelly or jam that should make.
-canning jars, rings & lids
-large (2 gal) sauce pot
-2 large mixing bowls
-small sauce pan(1 qt. will do)
-glass measuring pitcher
-large spoon (wooden or plastic)
-magnetic lid lifter
-old towel or cloth
-Fruit Juice for jelly
-Crushed fruit for jam
-Margarine or butter
Follow this link to find out how to make
fruit juice for making jelly.
A note on crushing fruit for making jam. You can make crushed fruit in a blender, or chop it with a knife or a food processor. In some cases, I have even crushed fruit with my hands. Ripe peaches, after being peeled and pitted, can be squashed by feel in a bowl. There's something strangely satisfying about the feel of a peach turning to mush in your hands. Ultimately, what you're looking for is something between pulp and a lumpy slurry for making jam.
NOTE:Pectin is a complex carbohydrate found naturally in fruits that causes jelly to gel. Some fruit has enough pectin occurring naturally to cause jelling. Tart apples and crab apples are some examples. Most fruit need some additional pectin to make jelly. I use either "Fruit Jell" made by Ball Corporation, or "Sure Jell" brand pectin.
Wash glass canning jars, lids and rings.
Always wash one more jar than the recipe calls for - you may need it.
Put about a 2 cups of water in the small saucepan, and put on the stove
Pre-measure the amount of sugar required into a mixing bowl and set aside.
Put small saucepan of water on high heat - bring to a boil.
Measure out the amount of crushed fruit or juice required into the large sauce pot.
Pour in 1 package of pectin and stir in.
Add a bit of butter or margarine to control foaming.
Bring the mixture to a boil on high heat, and immediately pour in the sugar.
Stir constantly. The sugar will quickly dissolve.
When the mixture starts to boil steadily, turn the heat down to medium.
Maintain a rolling boil for one minute and remove from heat.
Remove small saucepan of water from heat and put dome lids in the pan.
Using the glass measuring pitcher, and canning funnel, fill the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top.
If there is a bit of jelly left at the end of the batch, put it in a canning jar and refrigerate for "sampling purposes". If you're going to make more than one batch, accumulate the left overs in one jar.
Using a damp cloth or paper towel, wipe the rims of the jars clean.
Remove dome lid from pan, and assemble with ring.
Apply to jar as tight as you can get it by hand.
Turn jars upside down and leave for 5 minutes, then turn back upright.
Jars will begin sealing within an hour, but may take longer.
After they have reached room temperature test each jar by gently pushing in the center of each lid. If the lid flexes or pops down, it hasn't sealed. Although it's unusual, any jars that haven't sealed will have to be refrigerated until used.
ENJOY - you've just made your first batch of jelly or jam!!
I make traditional cooked jelly and jam. There are short-cut recipes for "freezer jam", but I've never tried them. It seems to me that if you are going to make jelly, it's worth taking the little extra time needed to do it right. I have tasted freezer jam made by other folks, and to me, it never seemed to taste quite right...but that's just my opinion.
Besides, why would you want something like jelly taking up valuable space in your freezer when you can store it canned on a shelf? I've got better things to put in my freezer!
Making Jelly & Jam:
You may have notice that there was a warning on the pectin box that says never to double up batches, or your jams and jellies may not set properly.
I have always been tempted to make a double batch just to see what happens, but never have tried.
It just doesn't seem worth the risk after working so hard to get to that point.