How to Can Jam and Jelly, the USDA Way

Learn the safe way to make jam and jelly, and you’ll have a sweet, convenient treat for months to come!

Jelly Temperature Test
There are two ways to test jelly for doneness. For the temperature test, simply use a jelly or candy thermometer to boil the mixture until it reaches the temperature specified for the altitude where you live. 
Chart From United States Department of Agriculture
Can Jam and Jelly
Why buy from the store when you can make your own jam and jelly at home? WIth a little help from the USDA, learn how to make cherry jam (left), or any other flavor jam or jelly, and this delicious bread spread could be yours. 
Photo By Fotolia/Joanna WNUK
Extract Juice to Make Jelly
After crushing or cutting the fruit into small pieces, you must extract the juice. Be sure to follow the recipes above, which detail what should be added, if anything, to each fruit, as well as how long each should simmer before being strained through a colander.
Chart From United States Department of Agriculture
Spoon Test
For the second test, known as the sheet or spoon test, dip a cool metal spoon into the boiling jelly mixture, and then raise the spoon about a foot above the pan (out of the steam). Turn the spoon so the liquid runs off the side. If the syrup forms two drops that hang off the spoon, as seen on the right in the picture above, your jelly is ready to be processed.  
Illustration From United States Department of Agriculture
Jelly Process Times
Once you've poured your gelled jelly into sterile jars, it's time to process it in a boiling-water canner. Follow the recommended process times detailed in the chart above.
Chart From United States Department of Agriculture
Jam With Pectin Ingredients
Unlike jelly, making jam without pectin doesn't require extracting fruit juice. Simply use the correct amounts of crushed fruit, sugar and in some cases, lemon juice listed in the chart.
Chart From United States Department of Agriculture
Process Times With Pectin
While the order in which you combine jam and jelly ingredients when using added pectin depends on the type of pectin used, the process times remain the same. Follow the recommended times featured above. 
Chart From United States Department of Agriculture
Jam Process Times Without Pectin
Processing times for jam without added pectin are the same as jelly. Just make sure you follow the time that matches the altitude where you live.
Chart From United States Department of Agriculture

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