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Article: Beginner's Guide to Making Jam or Jelly: Helpful Hints

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Forum: Article: Beginner's Guide to Making Jam or JellyReplies: 5, Views: 40
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Corpus Christi, TX
(Zone 9a)

August 22, 2009
2:05 PM

Post #6975627

Diana, I am sure many gardeners and cooks will benefit from this article; your step-by-step guide to making grape jelly has so many helpful hints that it should be fool-proof. I haven't ever grown grapes or made jelly, but if I do, I'll use your recipe; it is saved in my file! =)


Mount Laurel, NJ
(Zone 7a)

August 22, 2009
3:03 PM

Post #6975834

Hi, I was surprised to find out how easy it is to grow grapes (organically too). It doesn't take much room either. I hope you try it; all you need is a thin sunny strip of land to put a small pergola or fence.

We just picked 10lbs, our biggest harvest yet. This year we're going to try a twist to our usual grape jelly; we're adding freeze-dried Acai berries to the mix to yield an even higher antioxidant-rich jelly.

Thanks for reading!

Happy & Healthy Gardening,
Keyport, NJ

August 24, 2009
2:39 PM

Post #6982657

loved your article----but you can buy the pectin that sets with calcium instead of the sugar, so you don't have to put so much sugar in the jelly or jam. You just have to remember to mix the pectin with the sugar you use so you don't get lumps of pectin. I haven't found a store that sells it, so I order 5 or 6 boxes from the internet before the fruit season starts---Pomona's Universal Pectin.


Mount Laurel, NJ
(Zone 7a)

August 29, 2009
12:35 PM

Post #7000737

Hi Cheryl,

I have heard good things about Pomona's Pectin. I'm glad you mentioned it as another option. I've never been worried about using sugar in our jellies, jams and even in baked goods because we eat foods containing sugar so sparingly in our house; it is considered a real treat. In addition, no one in our household is obese or diabetic. Well...truth be mom could stand to trim a few pounds.

Anyway, your comment is very timely, especially because The American Heart Association just announced, for the first time in their history, a statement advising Americans to reduce their intake of added sugars. The AHA is now finally acknowledging the connection of excess sugar to obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Here is the link to the AHA's recent announcement:

Happy & Healthy Gardening,
Little Elm, TX
(Zone 7b)

September 18, 2009
6:24 PM

Post #7078060

As some one who regularly makes and gives away canned jams, jellies, preserves and chutneys I can add a little more to this. This is a great article for beginners as it does explain some of the most basic pitfalls. It really is unwise to deviate from the standard recipe unless you are fully ready for things to go wrong. If you don't mind the occasional goofed up batch, then you can start altering things.

It really helps to understand what pectin does for the plants and where commercial pectin comes from. Pectin helps the fruit to stick to vine, tree, or shrub it originally comes from. Without pectin, the fruit would just fall right off. Ripe fruit plucks off of most plants rather easily because the pectin content is a lot lower in it than in an unripe fruit. This is why the trick of adding a little under-ripe fruit often works to make up for a lack of commercial pectin.

Commercial pectin is usually made from crab apples. Crab apples are very tart and taste almost starchy. The trees themselves are pretty when blooming, but since most people don't want to eat a crab apple, it's good to know that apples have a lot of pectin too. For some reason, I just don't see many crab apples in the grocery stores or markets.

On rare occasions, I've been known to use grated crab apple or tart, slightly under ripe apples that don't have a particularly strong flavor in favor of commercial pectin. There is nothing wrong with commercial pectin, I just don't always remember to pick it up at the store whereas I almost always have apples on hand.

The gelling effect comes from a chemical reaction based off of the pectin, the sugar, and the acid content being boiled together. All three must be balanced a certain way for the jam or jelly to set in a gel. For the additional acid in mild acid fruit jams, most recipes call for lemon juice which adds citric acid and makes the overall flavor 'brighter' and more intense.

Unless making a pepper or tomato jelly, or some other jelly made from an unsweet fruit, most of the time you can lower the sugar content. You don't want to lower it too much, usually I start at half of what the regular recipe calls for and stop adding more once the liquid tastes right. It takes a fair amount of practice to know what the 'right' taste is for the sugar level.

I hope this helps the adventurous on their starts to tasty treats. And for the really neophyte, you can use Welches grape juice to make grape jelly from too!


Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

September 30, 2010
9:47 PM

Post #8130925

Wow, now I'm psyched! I just bought a 6-pack of Pomona from Amazon. I spend lots of $$ buying a delicious organic fruit juice sweetened fruit spread. I'm going to try making my own and save a bundle. Thanks for the great article and additional advice above. Happy Gardening!

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Other Article: Beginner's Guide to Making Jam or Jelly Threads you might be interested in:

SubjectThread StarterRepliesLast Post
Thank you so much! Sundownr 13 Aug 20, 2009 12:23 AM
Thank you!! 1AnjL 2 Oct 12, 2008 2:03 AM
Thank you! saanansandy 2 Aug 20, 2009 12:13 AM
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