What To Do If Your Jelly Doesn’t Gel…Jelly 911


#$%!!…It didn’t gel!

Not all of us can be perfect…I enjoy writing about successes, but for every success there is an epic fail. Who wants to explain mistakes (including my use of foul language!) when things don’t work out? I experiment with a lot of different fruits and herbs in making jelly, and when your dealing with unknown pectin content, your bound to mess up and have something just not gel or set up correctly. Nothing stinks more than 24 sealed jars of useless… Don’t despair! I have a couple of full proof methods to re-cook the spread and have it gel up perfect. (On a side note, I throw a hissy when I’m canning something as gifts and it goes wrong…)

Now not all soft spread recipes set up within 24 hours. If the preserve in question was properly processed in a boiling/pressure water canner and the jar is vacuum sealed. it is safe to wait to determine if the product will gel. If after a week or two the jelly doesn’t have a good set, it can be re-cooked.

You can buy 12 new lids at the market for about $2.00 you will want new sterile lids and throw the old ones away. You can re-sterilize and re-use the lid rings.

I strongly recommend working in small batches of 4 cups of preserves that you need to re-cook = 4 cups equals = 1 quart or = 4 8 ounce jelly jars.

For Classic Powdered Pectin:

To re-cook 4 cups of jelly, place 4 tablespoons of water in a pot, add 6 teaspoons of pectin and at medium to high heat stir and stir until the pectin is dissolved. Once the pectin mixture is at a low boil, add your 4 cups of preserves and 8 tablespoons of sugar stirring frequently you don’t want it to burn. Bring the whole mixture to a rolling boil, and count for 30 seconds. DO NOT go over 30 seconds at a rolling boil. Then take it off the heat, skim any foam away and re-transfer to the jars. Affix the new sterile lids and re-can you will notice the thicker preserves right away. If you want it to gel faster pop it in the freezer for an hour or so. The breakdown is 1 1/2 teaspoons of pectin, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of water for every cup of preserves you wish to re-gel.

Liquid Pectin:

Now liquid pectin is completely different, I like powdered pectin because it seems to be less finicky but lots of people believe that you get better flavor using it. To re-gel measure the unset soft preserves to be re-cooked no more that 8 cups at a time. (FOR EACH CUP) of unset spread you will want 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 1 1/2 teaspoons of liquid pectin. Bring your jelly to a boil first, stirring constantly, THEN add the sugar, lemon juice and liquid pectin. Return to a rolling boil and boil hard for one full minute, don’t go over the minute or you will ruin the gel. Remove from the heat, skim the foam and re-can the jelly.

Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin:

Measure the unset soft spread to be re-cooked. Re-cook only one quart or 4 cups at a time. For each quart of the unset soft spread, measure 4 teaspoons low or no sugar pectin and 1/4 cup of water. Bring the pectin and the water to a boil in a sauce pot stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Add the unset preserves stirring to blend evenly. Boil hard for 30 seconds no longer. Remove from heat. Skim foam if needed. Ladle into jars, apply the new sterilized lids and process in a boiling canner.

Good Luck! I’m cheering for all your endeavors to be perfect?

Amy Wexler ~

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References: Ball Blue Book Of Canning 2012


6 thoughts on “What To Do If Your Jelly Doesn’t Gel…Jelly 911

    • I put up some acid free tomatoes one year (makes great jelly) and it didn’t gel. Used it all as syrup on pancakes and was very disappointed when the last jar was gone.

  1. I market it as an ice cream sauce! I make jelly for my small bisness. I had some blueberry vanilla fail and my customers loved this one over ice cream. 85% of no sugar jellies dont set up fully so they are semi solid, my custmoers dont seem to care if its a little soft. they say its easier for them to spread on thier toast.

  2. Pingback: Food Links, 21.11.2012 | Tangerine and Cinnamon

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