Making homemade jelly is a great way to preserve large amounts of fruit. Homemade jellies taste so much better than commercially prepared varieties. They also make wonderful gifts for friends and family.
Jelly, Jam, or Marmalade?
Many people use the terms jelly and jam interchangeably. However, there is actually a difference between the two. Jelly is made strictly from the juice of the fruit, while jam is made from the whole fruit. Marmalade is made from a certain type of oranges and is more similar to jam than jelly.
Extracting the Juice
The best way to extract the juice from fruit for jelly is by boiling it with some water until the fruit turns to mush, and then straining the solids using a colander, cheesecloth or a jelly strainer. Making the juice is a fairly simple affair.
- Use ripe fruit - not over or under ripe.
- Clean the fruit and remove any stems or leaves.
- If you're using berries, you can place them directly in a pot. With apples and stone fruits, you need to peel and core or pit them, cutting them into small chunks.
- Fill a pot about 2/3 full with fruit and just barely cover with water.
- Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Strain the juice through a colander, cheesecloth, or a jelly bag. If you'd like to clarify the juice you can strain a second time through a finer material than the first straining.
Making the Jelly
Once you have your juice, you're ready to make jelly.
You will need several different things to make jelly.
- Large, non-reactive pot
- Colander or jelly strainer
- Several sterilized canning jars and lids
- Canner or very large soup pot
The following are the basic ingredients and ratios for jelly making.
- Sugar: The typical ratio of juice to sugar is about 1/4 cup sugar per every cup of juice, but this can vary, which is why it is important to follow a recipe if you've never made jelly before.
- Pectin: The pectin to juice ratio is about 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of powdered pectin per 1 cup of juice.
- Lemon juice: The other key ingredient in jelly is acid. Typically, this comes in the form of lemon or lime juice. This is especially important for low-acid fruits to add balance and increase thickening. Add about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per cup of juice.
Here is a quick, simple method for making jelly.
- Make juice as described above.
- Add juice and pectin to a large pot and bring to a rolling boil.
- Boil juice and pectin over medium heat for one minute.
- Add sugar and continue boiling and stirring until sugar completely dissolves.
- Remove from heat and carefully ladle into jars, leaving about 1/2 inch space at the top.
- Wipe the rims of the jars clean.
- Seal with lid and ring.
- Allow to stand at room temperature for 24 hours to set.
- Either refrigerate jelly, or proceed with sealing using a canner or large pot with water bath. Follow canning instructions carefully.
Wine Jelly Recipe
While you can make jelly with fresh fruits, you can also use other ingredients such as wine to make a delicious jelly. Try this wine jelly, which is wonderful with cheese and crackers.
- 3 1/2 cups of wine
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 ounces dry pectin
- 4 1/2 cups of sugar
- In a large stockpot, combine wine, lemon, and pectin.
- Bring to a rolling boil and boil for one minute.
- Add sugar, stirring to dissolve.
- Remove from heat and ladle into sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch at the top. Wipe rims and seal with lid and ring.
- Process in a water bath or canner for 10 minutes.
When making jelly, consider the following tips:
- Pectin is not fully developed until the fruit is nearly ripe. Ripening changes the character of the pectin as does overcooking of the juice with sugar.
- Acidic fruits make the best jelly.
- Large, firm fruit, such as apples, crab apples, and quinces, must be boiled in water until soft to extract juice.
- Avoid stirring the fruit during cooking as this can make the jelly cloudy.
- A flannel bag will give the clearest jelly, but a bag made of new cotton will also work.
Sweet and Savory Jellies
Jelly tastes best when made from fresh fruit, but there are all kinds of other jellies that are delicious, as well. After following several recipes for jelly, you'll be a pro and may be able to branch out on your own to create delicious jellies of your own creation.