Jams, Jellies, Preserves & Butters

The Basics of Making Jellied Products
Types of Sweet Spreads
• Jelly
- firm gel made from juice.
• Jam
- sweet spread that holds shape - crushed or
chopped fruit.
• Preserves - small whole fruits or uniform pieces in
thick, slightly gelled syrup
• Marmalades – soft fruit jellies containing fruit or
fruit peel, often citrus
• Fruit butters – fruit pulp, sugar and spices cooked
to a consistency that mounds on a spoon
Basics of Jellied Products – Ingredients
• Fruit - provides the flavor and color for the product.
• Furnishes at least part of the pectin and acid needed to gel.
• Should be good quality with no visible signs of spoilage.
• Best to use ¼ slightly under-ripe and ¾ fully ripe.
Basics of Jellied Products
• Sugar - is the preservative that prevents the
growth of microorganisms.
• Sugar must be present in the proper ratio with pectin and
acid for a gel to form.
• Never cut down on the amount of sugar called for in a
recipe or it may not gel.**
• Granulated white sugar is the type to use unless the recipe
calls for some corn syrup or honey.
• Brown sugar, sorghum and molasses are not
** If you want to make low or no sugar jellied products, then
you must use a special pectin product or a special recipe for
low sugar spreads.
Basics of Jellied Products
• Pectin - the substance that causes the product to
• Some fruits contain enough natural pectin if not overripe
(Apples, Crabapples, Eastern Concord grapes, Non-Italian
• Other fruits may need pectin or acid added (Ripe apples,
Ripe Blackberries, Elderberries, California Grapes).
• Still other fruits ALWAYS need pectin, acid or both added
(Raspberries, Apricots, Figs, Western Concord Grapes,
Pears, Italian Plums).
• Commercially prepared pectin is available in food
preservation section of grocery and discount department
Basics of Jellied Products
• Acid - needed for gel formation
• Amounts vary in different fruits.
• Typically higher in under-ripe fruits.
• Lemon juice or citric acid may be added if more acid is
• Contributes to flavor and tartness.
What has to happen for gels to form?
For gels to form, you must have correct proportions
1) Acid
2) Pectin
Does My Juice Have Enough Natural
Pectin to Make Jelly?
Tests for natural pectin
1. Cooking Test
• 1/3 cup juice
• 1/4 cup sugar
• Heat, stir, dissolve sugar.
• Boil rapidly until it sheets from spoon.
• Pour in bowl or jelly glass and cool.
• If cooled mixture is jelly-like, it has enough
natural pectin to gel.
Pectin Tests
2. Alcohol Test
1 tsp. juice
1 T. rubbing alcohol
Gently stir or shake in closed container.
Solid jelly-like mass forms if enough pectin to
gel - can pick up with fork.
Does My Fruit Have Enough Acid?
Test for acid:
• 1 tsp. lemon juice
• 3 T. water
• 1/2 tsp. sugar
• Mix and taste. Taste fruit juice.
• If your juice is at least equal in tartness, then it has
enough acid to make jelly.
If I don’t have enough pectin or if I just want to
use commercial pectin, what do I do?
• Look for commercial pectins in the food
preservation aisle of your grocery store or discount
department store.
• If you are making a full sugar product, then choose
regular pectin.
• If you are making a low or no sugar product, then
choose “lite” or “no sugar needed” pectin.
Is there any advantage or disadvantage
to using the added pectin?
• Without added pectin:
• Long boiling time with fruit and sugar.
• Less added sugar, but concentrated natural
• Loss of flavor from long boiling.
• With added pectin:
• Greater yield from measure of fruit.
• Fresher fruit flavor, but some flavor may be
• Better color.
• Less chance of failure.
Commercial Pectins
• Regular
• Available in liquid and powder forms.
• Higher yield per measure of juice.
• Can use fully ripe fruit.
• Use more sugar, flavor may be masked.
• Do not have to cook fruit to extract juice.
• Do not need to test for pectin or acid.
Commercial Pectin
• Regular (continued)
• Shorter cooking time
• No doneness tests
• Uniform results, quality
• Store in cool, dry place
• Use within 1 year or see expiration date
• Powdered and liquid pectin are not
interchangeable in recipes.
But I want a product with less sugar. What
should I do?
• Purchase a special pectin product made to be used
with less or no sugar.
• Look for “lite” or “no sugar needed” on the package
• Follow the recipe on the package insert for the type
of jelly or jam you are making.
• Measuring cups and spoons
• Bowl for sugar
• Heavy, metal pot – large!
• Ladle
• Jar filler/funnel
• Jars and lids
• Boiling water canner and rack
• Jar lifter
Other Possible Equipment
• Scales
• Sieve, food mill, fruit press
• Jelly bag
• Thermometer - jelly or candy
Preparing the Fruit
1. Use fruit immediately. Do not
refrigerate longer than one day.
2. Discard over-ripe or rotten fruit.
3. Use 1/4 under-ripe fruit and 3/4 justripe fruit, if no added pectin is used.
4. Approximately 1 lb. prepared (washed,
trimmed, cut) fruit = 1 cup juice.
Preparing the Fruit
5. Wash fruit, lifting out of water.
6. Remove stems and blossoms.
7. Do NOT remove skins, cores, or pits.
• high pectin concentration
8. Cut into the size of pieces as recipe indicates.
Extracting Juice
1. Place prepared fruit and cold water in
saucepan (soft berries can be crushed and no
water added).
2. Bring to boil on high heat.
3. Reduce heat.
Extracting Juice
4. Cook until fruit is soft.
• Grapes, berries: 10 minutes
• Apples, hard fruits: 20-25 minutes
• DO NOT overcook - destroys pectin, color
and flavor.
Extracting Juice
5. Dampen the jelly bag with water and strain the
juice through damp jelly bag.
• Can use fruit press before straining.
• Cover jelly bag and bowl while dripping to
prevent contamination.
Extracting Juice
• Special situation
• To make jelly from fresh grape juice:
• Refrigerate juice overnight, then
• Strain through 2 layers damp cheesecloth.
• Remove tartrate crystals that have formed.
Jelly - No Added Pectin
1. Bring extracted juice to boil (6 cups maximum).
2. Add sugar immediately; stir until dissolved.
If no recipe is available, try 3/4 cup sugar per 1 cup
of juice.
Jelly - No Added Pectin
3. Cook rapidly. Long cooking destroys pectin.
4. Test for doneness.
Tests For Doneness
with no added pectin
1. Temperature
• Cook to 220oF or 8oF above boiling point of
• Test thermometer for accuracy with boiling
water prior to cooking jelly.
Tests For Doneness
with no added pectin
2. Sheet Test (Spoon Test)
• Dip cold metal spoon into boiling jelly.
• Hold spoon out of steam.
• Drops should “sheet” together.
Tests For Doneness
with no added pectin
3. Refrigerator/Freezer Test
• Place small amount on plate.
• Place in freezer for a few minutes.
• Check for gel.
With Added Pectin…
• There is no testing for doneness.
• Just follow the package directions for adding the
pectin and for boiling the product.
For jams and preserves without
added pectin and for butters and
Doneness can be determined by
• Temperature
• The refrigerator/freezer test
Preparing Jars
Best to use half-pint or pint jars.
Two options for “full-sugar” jams and jellies
that are pectin-set:
• Pre-sterilize jars and process 5 minutes in
• Use clean, hot jars and process for 10
minutes in BWC.
Preparing Jars
To pre-sterilize jars:
• Wash jars in hot, soapy water and rinse.
• Cover jars with water, bring to a boil and boil
10 minutes.
• The boiling water canner works well.
• Keep the jars in the hot water until ready to
• If altitude>1,000 ft: add 1 min. of boiling time for
each 1,000 ft.
Preparing Lids
• Follow manufacturer’s directions -- they
• Most: Cover with water, bring to simmer
only, keep warm until ready to use.
Filling Jars
1. Skim foam (quickly).
2. Use a ladle and jar filler to fill hot, pre-sterilized
half-pint jars with boiling product.
3. Leave headspace of 1/4”.
4. Wipe jar rims (top surface) with clean,
dampened paper towel.
5. Remove pre-treated lids from warm water and
place on jars.
6. Tighten ring bands over lids until “fingertip”
6. Process - to prevent mold growth.
Processing Jars
• Carefully place jars on rack in canner filled w/ hot
(simmering) water.
• Use a jar lifter and keep the jars straight up. Do not tilt
• Water should be 1 to 2 inches above the tops of the jars
when all jars are in the canner.
• Place the lid on the canner.
• Bring water to a full boil; boil for 5 min. if jars are pre-
sterilized; 10 minutes if not.
• At end, turn off heat. Remove lid from canner, turning
away from your face to avoid steam burns.
• Wait 5 minutes before removing jars from canner.
• Using the jar lifter, remove jars to protected surface.
Processing Jars
• Cool away from drafts for at least 12 hours.
• DO NOT DISTURB or move for at least 12 hours
or gel may break.
• NOTE: USDA and University of Georgia
DO NOT recommend inverting jars.
• To avoid breaking gel, do not move for 12 hours.
• Check seal. If a vacuum seal has formed, prepare the
jars for storage.**
• Remove ring bands.
• Gently wash the lid and threads of the jars, rinse and
• Label the jars with the product name and date.
• Store without ring bands in cool, dry, dark place.
• Short storage time is best for best quality.
** Store unsealed jars in the refrigerator.
I want to make freezer jam. What do
I do?
• Newer pectins
• Simpler instructions
• Less sugar than some others,
OR, no sugar
• Some people think it tastes
more like fresh fruit.
Storing Freezer Jam
• DO NOT store at room temp - will mold and/or
• Freezer storage best for color and flavor retention.
• Do not place in freezer until gel forms.
• Must be stored in refrigerator or freezer.
• May be stored refrigerator up to 3 weeks; in
freezer, up to 1 year.
• Refrigerate after opening and use within a few
days-few weeks.
• Trade and brand names are used only for information. The Cooperative Extension,
University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences and College of
Family & Consumer Sciences, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture do not guarantee
nor warrant published standards on any product mentioned; neither does the use of a
trade or brand name imply approval of any product to the exclusion of others which may
also be suitable.
Document Use:
• Permission is granted to reproduce these materials in whole or in part for educational
purposes only (not for profit beyond the cost of reproduction) provided the author and
the University of Georgia receive acknowledgment and this notice is included:
• Reprinted (or Adapted) with permission of the University of Georgia. Harrison, J.A. and
Andress, E.L. 2010. Jams, Jellies, Preserves and Butters (slides). Athens, GA: The
University of Georgia, Cooperative Extension.

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