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Sometimes after you have bottled (canned) your jam, jelly, preserves, conserves, etc. and let it cool, you open a jar, only to find it hasn't set properly an d is too runny! If your jam or jelly turns out too soft or runny, don't despair, and don't throw it away! It can be fixed! Here's how!
If the jam is too thick, before you put it in the jars, just heat 1 or 2 cups of grape juice (or any other fruit juice of similar or neutral taste, like apple or white grape) to boiling. Then, gradually pour and stir it in until you reach the desired consistency, then continue canning!
If the jars are already sealed / canned, then when you use them, just stir in a little grape juice until you reach the desired thickness.
If the jam turns out too runny, that is a little different to fix. Here's how:
Or click here for a PDF version that prints nicely! This page is in metric units; if you want this page in US/UK Imperial units (ounces, pounds, etc.) see this page. And Google has a great conversion calculator that will convert from any units to any units.
It takes 3 ingredients for jams and jellies to set: pectin, sugar and acidity. The amount of pectin that is naturally occurring in the fruit varies from one type of fruit to another and by ripeness (counter intuitively, unripe contains more pectin). See this page for more about pectin in fruit. It takes the right balance, and sufficient amounts of each of pectin, sugar and acidity to result in a firm jam or jelly. Lastly, it takes a brief period (1 minute) of a hard boil, to provide enough heat to bring the three together. Generally speaking, if your jam doesn't firm up, you were short in pectin, sugar or acidity or didn't get a hard boil. We will correct that when we remake the jam or jelly!
Measure the jam or jelly to be recooked. Work with no more than 1 liter to
at a time. Check all the jars from the batch - if one failed to set, most or all
probably failed. You can check by just turning them upside down and seeing
how quickly the jam or jelly shlooshes* around in the jar.
(* - Schloosh - from the old German verb, "schlushen" meaning to flop around like a freshly caught trout)
Add up the volumes of all the jars to be reworked, to figure out the size of the batch (in liters) for step 2.
1 liter (litre) = 1000 ml
Open the jars to be fixed and dump them all into a large pot.
Since you will probably want to reuse the jars, get the now emptied jars washing in the dishwasher.
If you are using powdered pectin:
For each liter of jam or jelly to be fixed, mix 60 ml sugar, 60 ml water or white grape juice, 30 ml bottled lemon juice, and 60 ml of dry powdered pectin in a large pot. For the average batch of about 2.5 Liter total, that would be 150 ml sugar (measured by volume), 150 cup water or juice and about 75 ml lemon juice, plus about 1/2 box pectin, preferably the no-sugar variety. One half box of pectin is about 25 gm, or by volume is equal to 105 ml.
This table may help you with calculations:
|Amount of jam or
jelly to re-make
|500 ml||30 ml||30 ml||15 ml||30 ml|
|750 ml||45 ml||45 ml||20 ml||45 ml|
|1 liter||60 ml||60 ml||30 ml||60 ml|
|1.25 L||75 ml||75 ml||40 ml||75 ml|
|1.5 liter||90 ml||90 ml||45 ml||90 ml|
|1.75 L||105 ml||105 ml||50 ml||105 ml|
|2 liters||120 ml||120 ml||60 ml||120 ml|
|2.25 L||135 ml||135 ml||70 ml||135 ml|
|2.5 liters||150 ml||150 ml||75 ml||150 ml|
|2.75 L||165 ml||165 ml||80 ml||165 ml|
|3 liters||180 ml||180 ml||90 ml||180 ml|
If you are using liquid pectin:
For each quart of jelly, measure 180 ml sugar, 35 ml bottled lemon juice, and 35 ml liquid pectin in a large pot.
Add the jam or jelly to be remade to the pectin mixture and bring it to a rolling boil again, over high heat, stirring constantly. Keep in mind that one reason jams and jellies don't set is because people try to double batches, and there is non-uniform heating. That results in some pectin becoming over-cooked and some pectin in the batch is under cooked. Never make a new batch of jam or jelly starting with more than 6 cups of crushed fresh or frozen fruit; and never try to remake a batch larger than 2.5 liters.
Once it is a rolling boil, boil hard for 45 to 60 seconds (1 minute).
I keep a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon. If it thickens up to the consistency I like, then I know the jam is ready. If not, I mix in a little more pectin (about 1/4 to 1/2 of another package) and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute.
Remove from heat, and quickly skim the foam off jam or jelly.
Fill sterile jars (automatic dishwashers often have a sanitize setting, otherwise, wash and dry and add 5 minutes to the processing time), leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust new lids (don't reuse the previous lids, they are single use) and...
... process as recommended in the table below.
|Recommended process time for Remade Soft Jellies in a boiling-water canner.|
|Process Time at Altitudes of|
|Jar Size*||0 - 1,000 ft||1,001 - 6,000 ft||Above 6,000 ft|
|200-250 ml or
500 ml size jars
*Sizes larger than 500 ml are generally not recommended for jams and jellies.
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