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Thread: Jam failure... or, why I hate Sure-Jel...

  1. #1
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    Angry Jam failure... or, why I hate Sure-Jel...

    I was so pleased this year to have enough cherries from my cherry tree to make pie and jam, but my jam-making attempt was less than successful. I followed the recipe that came with the pectin carefully, but once my jam cooled, I found it overset, so instead of having a jam-like consistency, it's more like Jello . I'm sure once the jam is chilled, I'll have to cut it with a knife . I still have about 4 cups of cherries left, and I'm considering remaking the jam tomorrow with added cherries. Does anyone have any experience with this? Will I have any success doing this, or should I cut my losses and save my remaining cherries for one more pie? (None of my pies have set well, either, but that's a topic for another thread.)

    I had the same thing happen with powdered pectin last year as well, making strawberry-rhubarb jam. I think I'll forego added pectin from here on in, and just make my jam the old-fashioned way.
    The motive power of democracy is love. ~ Henri Bergson

  2. #2
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    I am sorry for your bad luck with jam... I would let the jam sit for a day or two and open a jar and see how it spreads. I actually think that "over set" jam isn't nearly as bad as it sounds. It usually spreads fairly easily in my experience...

    Otherwise, I am sure there is a way to add in extra cherries and attempt to re-can it. Unfortunately I just don't know it Good luck!
    - Josie


  3. #3

    Question New member finding my way

    I'm trying jams this year too, and I also found that using sure jel comes out firmer than I like. I'm just going to use half the powdered pectin next time around.

    I've seen some great recipes for jam on myrecipes.com - some from cooking light. Are recipes like "Tomato Jam" ok for for canning?

    Thanks for helping the newbie

  4. #4
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    The firm set is easier to remedy -- just add a little water to thin it down if it needs it, but I've rarely needed any more than a few drops to a teaspoon. They do usually spread better than you think they will, but its harder to give them as gifts if the jars look like they are packing hockey pucks. If you reheat it now, either to thin it and reprocess or to add more fruit and thin it that way, I'd be afraid of getting an overcooked flavor. If you decide to try it, cook the new stuff to nearly done, then add the old and stir to melt it in, get it to boiling for one minute and check your set.

  5. #5
    I like Beth's suggestion. I know the pectin from Sure-Jell depends on the amt of sugar. Any changes in sugar amounts will affect your set.

    I agree that perhaps this batch is not the one to gift...but as Beth suggests, it's an easy fix for personal use.
    I don't use water but used a compatible syrup for thinning when this occurred (especially if I reduced sugar). You can dump one jar of over-set jam in a bowl, warm it slightly in microwave to loosen. Whisk in 2-3 Tbsp syrup (agave, corn syrup if you use it, Lyle's Golden Syrup, or cherry or apple juice) and re-fill jar. Refrigerate to tap into during the month. (Leave others sealed--then do same when current jar is exhausted opening one jar at a time.)

    I admire anyone who takes the trouble to make homemade jam/jellies. It's definitely an art to turn fruit into beautiful jams and jellies.

    Dolores
    "we can't go 'round measuring our goodness by what we don't do, by what we deny ourselves, what we resist and who we exclude...
    we've got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include."
    Pierre Henri in Chocolat
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    www.photographybydolores.com

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies, everyone. I did try the jam on toast this morning, and it was like trying to spread Jello . So I remade the jam with an extra 2 cups of cherries and about 1 1/2 c sugar, and it seems to be much better. However, that powdered pectin is so nasty that even after boiling the jam hard for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time, I still found large chunks of jellied jam in the bottom of the pot as I was ladling it into the jars. Another minute of stirring and mashing took care of that issue...

    Next up - four fruit July jam to use up the last of the cherries, with no added pectin!
    The motive power of democracy is love. ~ Henri Bergson

  7. #7
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    I have been making pomegranate jelly a long time using the powdered pectin and never had it get too hard. But that was just using the juice.
    Years ago when we lived in South Carolina plums grew wild along the road and other places. I made jam with them and didn't use pectin. Some fruits have it in them.
    Now there are freeways where the wild plums grew!

  8. #8
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    I really like Pomona's Universal Pectin because the results are independent of the amount of sugar used. This pectin is activated by the calcium naturally found in fruits.

    INGREDIENTS: Low Methoxyl, Citrus Pectin and Monocalcium Phosphate (packed separately - assists gel of low calcium fruits). No sugar or preservatives.

    It lasts a long time - I bought several boxes 10 years ago and they still work like they did new. I've never had a problem using this stuff for jelly, jam, syrup, etc.

    I've only seen it sold by food co-ops and health food stores. However, it might be more readily available in the lower 48.
    Anne

  9. #9
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    I've never heard of that Anne. I use pectin more for pepper jelly than most fruit ones. I'm not sure if it would work there.

  10. #10
    Hi Beth,


    Yes, Anne is correct. Sure-Jell's set is dependent upon sugar. (Pepper Jelly has sugar) This is why adjusting sugar amounts w/ Sure Jell is not recommended. It will greatly affect the set.

    However, Ball now sells a No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin for jams and jellies. It has low or no sugar recipes in the box.

    The pectin Anne is referring to has become more popular over the years due to it's reliability and for those eschewing refined sugar in their diets. I have had excellent results with it. As mentioned, it's only available at health food stores. It's my pectin of choice hands down.

    The contents of the Ball "No Sugar Needed" pectin is dextrose (refined sugar), fruit pectin, citric acid and calcium ascorbate.

    I made raspberry jam this week with raspberries, apple peel (from two apples), lemon juice and agave (w/ pinch salt). I reduced until it was quite thick and used the spoon method to test. It set (softly) -- I'm very pleased I can make jam w/out refined sugar (even though TJ sells excellent ones sweetened with apple/grape juice).

    Dolores
    "we can't go 'round measuring our goodness by what we don't do, by what we deny ourselves, what we resist and who we exclude...
    we've got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include."
    Pierre Henri in Chocolat
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    www.photographybydolores.com

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by madpots View Post
    I have been making pomegranate jelly a long time using the powdered pectin and never had it get too hard. But that was just using the juice.
    Years ago when we lived in South Carolina plums grew wild along the road and other places. I made jam with them and didn't use pectin. Some fruits have it in them.
    Now there are freeways where the wild plums grew!
    Mmmm, wild plum jelly - I've made it a couple of times and it's delicious. However, I make it without added pectin, just simmering it until it sets (it does take a while).

    I've never seen Pomona's pectin around here. I suspect it's found mainly in natural food stores, so I'll look for it there. I've had good luck with Certo Light pectin, which is only available in Canada, so I may look for more when I visit there next summer. I have one package of it now, but unfortunately it doesn't have any recipes for sour cherry jam.

    As far as the amount of sugar used, I actually used less sugar when I made the original recipe (4 1/2 c instead of 5 c). It's good to know that using less sugar will give a softer set - I may do that if I ever use Sure-Jell again!
    The motive power of democracy is love. ~ Henri Bergson

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