Jelly-Making Problems & Solutions

RE-MAKING SOFT JELLY
Without adequate pectin being present in your jelly (or too short a boiling time to reduce the liquid), you will have jelly that is too soft – or has a syrup consistency. For no-pectin jelly, thicken by adding 2tbsp lemon juice to 4 cups of jelly mixture, boiling hard until set (check for gel stage). For other jellies, add ½ cup water, 2tbsp lemon juice, ¼ cup sugar and 4tsp powdered pectin to 4 cups of jelly mixture. Boil hard for 1 minute. For both jelly-fixing methods, process jars (with new lids) for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.
  
FIXING HARD JELLY
Jelly that has been cooked too long, had too much pectin added, or if you have altered the ingredient ratios in error will result in very firm jelly. These are hard to fix properly, as extra juice/water is needed to be added – but the pectin may not set properly a second time. Instead, label and store these jars like normal and ensure they are warmed before use (i.e. heat a spoonful or so for meat glazes or swirling into yoghurt).
   
BUBBLES IN JELLY
Bubbles can be caused during filling the jars or during storage. After boiling the jam, discard foam before filling jars to prevent bubbles being transferred into the jars. If your jars have moving bubbles during storage, this indicates fermentation is taking place, which means the jar seal has failed. Dispose of fermented preserves and ensure jars are washed well before re-use.
   
CLOUDY JELLY
The trickiest part about jelly-making is ensuring a clear juice at the beginning – if the juice is not strained well, fruit particles will cloud the jelly appearance.
   
CRYSTALS IN JELLY
Glass-like or sugar crystals present in your jelly are caused by undissolved sugar, or are tartrate crystals (in grape juice). To prevent these, refrigerate grape juice overnight then strain carefully to remove these crystals, and ensure sugar is dissolved before boiling hard. Do not scrape down pan before filling jars – the sides of the pan will be coated with undissolved sugar crystals.
  
DARKER COLOUR OF JELLY
If you overcook your jelly, the colour will darken – prevent this by following the recipe accurately and not doubling the recipe for example. If it is stored too long, or at a higher temperature, this may also occur.
   
JELLY IS WEEPING
Storing your jars in a warm area results in weeping – ensure they are stored in a cool, dark and dry place to prevent this. If your juice is too acidic (most commonly when making wine jellies) this weeping may also occur.
   
JELLY HAS MOULD ON THE SURFACE
Processing your jars greatly reduces the chance of spoilage during storage. If the jars are not sealed properly, mould and other contaminants may grow. If these are present when you open a jar of jelly, discard the contents of the jar (not just the top layer) and wash jar well before re-use.   

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