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Pectin - How Much to Use in Making Jams and Jellies

Jams and Jellies: How Much Pectin to Use?

Every jam and jelly recipe that calls for pectin (the really old ones don't, but use massive amounts of sugar and cooking the jam or jelly to death to thicken it) and every manufacturer  and type of pectin, calls for a different amount per batch.  If you want to know how much pectin to use of the type you have, to acheive the results you want, read on.

What is a "batch"?

A batch of jam or jelly is about 5 or 6 cups of prepared fruit.  It can be up to 8 cups of p[repared fruit  but if you go above this, heat will not penetrate quickly enough and the batch will not "set" or "gell". So DO NOT DOUBLE BATCH SIZES, or go above 8 cups of prepared fruit per batch.

What is a good "set" or "gell"

By set or gell, also called gel or jell, we mean, how thick or firm is the finished jam, jelly or preserve? There is no single answer.  It's whatever you like.  Some people like a runny, syrupy jam or jelly, which flows and pours at room temperature. Others, like me, like a firmer jam or jelly, that stays where you put it, but still spreads with a knife.  Finally, some people like a very firm gell, thyat you can almost cut into cutes.

The recipes I publish are designed to produce that middle level, medium firm.

So, how pectin much to use?

Jams and jellies are as much art as science.  Fruiits contain some pectin naturally, ranging from almost none like strawberries, peaches and citrus pulp, to those that have fairly high levels, like crabapples, most blackberries and cranberries.

So here is some general advice, which you will need to modify, based on your own experience and preferences Remember, you still have to follow the rest of recipe (lemon juice, sugar, heating, etc.) I'm ONLY talking about the amount of pectin below

Fruit - 6 to 8 cups of puree Loose set Medium set Very firm set
Strawberries 4 tablespoons of no sugar needed pectin (1 packet) 7 Tablespoons of no sugar needed pectin (1.5 packet) 10 Tablespoons of no sugar needed pectin
Strawberries 7 Tablespoons of Regular pectin 10 Tablespoons of Regular pectin 13 Tablespoons of Regular pectin
Blackberries 3 tablespoons of no sugar needed pectin (1 packet) 5 Tablespoons of no sugar needed pectin (1.5 packet) 7 Tablespoons of no sugar needed pectin
Blackberries 5 Tablespoons of Regular pectin 7 Tablespoons of Regular pectin 10 Tablespoons of Regular pectin

Solving jam setting problems:

Too stiff or lumpy jam

If gel formation is too strong, due to way too much pectin, the jam becomes stiff, lumpy or granular in texture. 

Cooking too long, but not at a high temperature, can boil off water, without breaking the pectin down.  This results in jam that is too stiff.

This also occurs if the temperature is too high, for too long, or the jam is not stirred frequently.

Using underripe fruit, which has more pectin than ripe fruit, with the same amount of pectin as the recipe requires for ripe fruit, also makes stiff jellies and jams. FYI, commercial pectin is intended for use with fully ripe (but not overripe) fruit.

Runny Jam

Undercooking (it must hit a full rolling boil for ONE minute) or too little pectin or sugar leads to runny jam.

Overheating - that is too high temperatures or uneven heat distribution builds excess heat which causes the pectin to break down. This is why you shouldn't double batches - due to inherently uneven heating of home cookware - commercial canning equipment is design to heat more uniformly.

See this page for step by step directions on how to remake runny jams and jellies.

Where to get pectin

Pectin is commonly sold in large grocery stores, like Publix and Kroger, housewares sections of stores like local "big box" stores, and online. We have affiliate programs with two suppliers:

Supplier No-sugar pectin
(This is my top choice, since you can use no sugar, sugar, honey and/or Stevia, or Splenda and it will set!)
Regular pectin
I still think you should use the no-sugar version (at left), even if you want to add sugar!)
Low sugar methoxyl pectin (Pomona)
Best for tough sets, like pepper jellies
MCP - Modified Citrus Pectin

Made with fruit pectin and citric acid
Freezer jam pectin
Liquid pectin low sugar pectin
Online stores

It is hard to find - but the no-sugar pectin works well with sugar, too

Bulk pectin for canning multiple batches of jam and jelly at lower cost:

No-sugar needed bulk pectin:  Regular (sugar needed) bulk pectin:

Can't find the Pectin?  Our affiliate suppliers ship to all 50 states! 

Illustrated Canning, Freezing, Jam Instructions and Recipes

[ Easy Home Canning Directions] [FAQs - Answers to common questions and problems] [Recommended books about home canning, jam making, drying and preserving!] [Free canning publications to download and print]