[NAFEX] Pectin jell

Stephen Sadler Docshiva at Docshiva.org
Wed Aug 27 17:42:44 EDT 2008

I'm guessing you're not at altitude - there doesn't seem to be much of that
in KS.


Your jam should be done when it reaches 7 degrees above the boiling point of
water - probably 219, but may vary with barometric pressure.  Regardless,
see what the thermometer you'll be using will register in boiling water,
then add 7 degrees for your jam.  Visually, the jam should begin to hold its
shape in a spoon.  


You may be using too much fruit, or too-ripe.  If it's too ripe, you'll need
more pectin.  If it's too much, you'll need less fruit.  If you can find
recipes that measure the fruit by weight rather than volume, that may help.
If you're trying to perfect a recipe, weigh the fruit it calls for so you
can make educated changes and create a reliable recipe.  It's not unusual to
want to vary even a successful recipe for your own conditions and taste.


If a closely followed recipe fails, you may want to try a different recipe,
rather than try to alter that one.  Once you get a really good eye for
what's-gelled-to-what-point - and that's different for jams vs. jellies -
then you can vary things on your own with more confidence.  It can be more
cost effective to vary small batches, so you can test your changes without a
big investment of ingredients.


Ball pectin and recipes are very consistent and work for most people for
most batches - but every home canner has his share of failures.  Terminology
can be important though - a thin jam might be called a "delicious fruit
topping" rather than a "failure."  Likewise, there are canners who never
know if they're making syrup or jelly until it sets up. 


Lately I've become appalled at the prices of ingredients like pectin (and
baking yeast) and buy them in bulk.  Here's where I get my pectin:


It's a pretty forgiving pectin, and will work for freezer or regular jams;
still, I notice differences as I vary recipes.  I've been doing very small
batches using the jam setting for my bread machine.  I started with the jam
recipes from Beth Hesperger's The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook.  She
uses the same machine I do, so the reliability of the recipes is excellent
for me - as it is in general.  She likes her jams tarter and runnier than I
do; it was a simple adjustment to increase the sugar and pectin, and safe to
experiment with such small batches.  


~ Stephen




From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Mark & Helen
Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 11:00 AM
To: North American Fruit Explorers
Subject: [NAFEX] Pectin jell


This may be a question asked before, but was wondering what went wrong with
our jam making?  Made a batch of peach jam and used 75% of the sugar that
the recipe called for.  Used "Ball" brand pectin and followed all other
instructions, which called for boiling the jam hard for one minute.  Then
hot packed the jam.  Problem is, the jam didn't set up as firm as I thought
it should.  Although the flavor is excellent, it's the consistency is
thinner than I'd like.  About the consistancy of thick honey.  Thought maybe
using less sugar caused it not to jell.  But then we made another batch of
jam, this time with some strawberries left over in the freezer.  This time
we used the full amount of sugar on the recipe.  Again the jam didn't firm
up real good (although it's slightly firmer than the peach jam).


My question, what caused the jam not to jell well?  I know a lot of folks
recommend Pomona's pectin, which is what I should have used, but we used
what was available at the time.  Is Ball pectin a really bad product?  Would
it have helped if we would have boiled the jam longer?




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