Pass the Jelly!
“Hey, Shelly, pass the jelly!” I’ve heard that a few hundred times from a teasing brother (or two, or four)!
Papa and I have cut back on carbs these days, but I do like jelly on my bread when I have it, and I do like making jelly! Making jelly is a bit messy but it isn’t hard. Plus, it’s a great activity to do with the grands and gives the perfect opportunity to tell some of your childhood memories while you make new ones together.
Making Jelly Memories
When I was young, mom would send us to the back fence of our farm to pick currents or would take us out for a drive on country roads to find wild sand hill plums. We thought the jelly she made from them could be used as currency if the dollar ever gave way! Yum! Now, we make full use of our wild sand hill plum bushes out by our driveway.
If you have the time and opportunity it is fun to go and pick fruit with the grands. Wild fruit is great (watch out for poison ivy), but you can use purchased fruit just as easily!
Pectin Package Directions
The pectin package you purchase will have a sheet of specific directions for you to follow. This will be a cooked jelly and it will list a variety of fruits you may use. It will also tell you the specific amounts of the fruit and sugar you will need.
Geek alert: Pectin is a natural substance found in fruit. When the packaged powdered or liquid pectin is heated with the juice and sugar it forms a structure that causes the fruit juice to set up with that wonderful jelly consistency.
Cooking the Fruit
Tip: It’s a good idea to make sure the canning jars are washed, clean and ready to go before starting to cook the fruit.
First, you will cook the fruit in a saucepan to break the fruit down to a mash and get the liquid juice for the jelly making. Then you’ll place the cooked fruit mash in several layers of the cheesecloth and pull the cheesecloth up around the mash like a knapsack to drain out all the juice.
Tip: I use string to tie the top up tight and hang it on my cupboard handles over a bowl so the juice can drip out of the fruit and into the bowl. You could place it in a large strainer over a pan if you want. After it cools off, I use my hands to gently press out more juice, then the drier mash is thrown away. It’s the juice you are after!
Follow the Directions!
The recipe will tell you how many cups of juice, cups of sugar and amount of pectin you will need. The ingredients need to be in the right proportions for them to jell so this isn’t the time to wing it or guess on a recipe (for all you chef types out there)! Cook these three ingredients for the length of time the recipe specifies, then pour them into those clean canning jars.
Seal the Jars
Tip: Wipe the top rim of the jar off before putting on the new flat tops and screwing on the rings so the jars seal well. I turn my jelly upside down for 5-6 minutes and then right side up again. As they cool the tops will “pop” in indicating they have sealed off for storage, a fun sound that you and the grands will love hearing!
The directions will tell you the recommended way to water bath can the jars to seal them. Unsealed jars can be kept in the refrigerator if you will be using them soon.
Once it’s cooled and set up, fix up as a snack for you and the grands. There’s nothing like some toast with your own homemade jelly!
“Hey, Shelly, pass the jelly!” Enjoy!
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- Pectin (Found in the canning section of a grocery store. Comes in a powdered or liquid form.)
- Recipe directions inside the Pectin package (tells how much fruit, sugar is needed)
- Fruit- hand-picked or purchased
- Sugar (quite a bit, 5-8 cups)
- 1 package of Cheesecloth
- Clean canning jars with metal rings that screw on the top of jars
- Follow the Pectin directions for the fruit you will be using.
- Wash the fruit, then cook fruit according to directions
- Use cheesecloth to press juice from cooked fruit
- Cook juice and other ingredients as outlined on directions
- Pour juice into clean canning jars, screw on canning jar lids
- Follow instructions to seal the jars.