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!

| July 26, 2011

Home canning your own jam and jelly is a great way to put your fruits to tasty use. Use this article to learn how to make jelly and jam, with and without pectin, the substance that causes a gel to form when combined with the correct amounts of acid and sugar. While pectin is found in all fruits, some fruits, such as apples and plums, have enough natural pectin to gel without any additional mixed in, while other fruits, such as strawberries and blueberries, need help from other high-pectin fruits or a pectin supplement. Confused? Don’t be. With this helpful excerpt from the United States Department of Agriculture's Complete Guide to Home Canning, you'll learn the step-by-step process for home canning jam and jelly. Use this and our other canning resources to stock up after your harvest.

The following is an excerpt from the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, detailing why and how you should make canning syrup to preserve your fruit. 

Making Jelly Without Added Pectin

Use only firm fruits naturally high in pectin. Select a mixture of about 3/4 ripe and 1/4 under­ripe fruit. Do not use commercially canned or frozen fruit juices. Their pectin content is too low. Wash all fruits thoroughly before cooking. Crush soft fruits or berries; cut firmer fruits into small pieces. Using the peels and cores adds pectin to the juice during cooking. Add water to fruits that require it, as listed in the table of ingredients below. Put fruit and water in large saucepan and bring to a boil. Then simmer according to the times below until fruit is soft, while stirring to prevent scorching. One pound of fruit should yield at least 1 cup of clear juice.

Extracting Juices and Making Jelly

When fruit is tender, strain through a colander, then strain through a double layer of cheese­cloth or a jelly bag. Allow juice to drip through, using a stand or colander to hold the bag. Pressing or squeezing the bag or cloth will cause cloudy jelly.

Using no more than 6 to 8 cups of extracted fruit juice at a time, measure fruit juice, sugar, and lemon juice according to the ingredients in the table in the Image Gallery and heat to boiling. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Boil over high heat to the jellying point. To test jelly for doneness, use one of the following methods:

Temperature Test. Use a jelly or candy thermometer and boil until mixture reaches the temperatures specified for the altitude in which you live, as detailed in the chart in the Image Gallery.

8/9/2011 10:59:22 AM

I love seeing recipes and step by step articles like this! We have been canning our own jams and jellies for years, and also can meats and vegetables. It is an unbeatable way to control your food costs when you can buy a lot of an item on sale(or have a bumper crop!) and can it for future use. :)

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