There’s nothing quite like the taste of homemade jelly and a hot buttermilk biscuit on a cold winter’s morning. This summer’s fruit harvest can be made into jelly, ready for those cold winter mornings, with these basic instructions on how to make jelly.
Items needed to make jelly: Fruit, 2 large kettles, straining cloth, metal spoon, measuring cups, ladle, large mouth funnel, sugar, citrus acid, pectin, canning jars with lids. Timer and thermometer are optional.
Your choice of fruit should be slightly under ripe. Under ripe fruit has firmer flesh, a more tart flavor and contains more natural fruit pectin. Prepare fruit as needed for each batch of jelly by washing, peeling, coring and/or slicing.
The fruit is boiled in water to remove the juice that will be used in jelly making. For most fruits, only use enough water to cover the fruit in the kettle. For berries and grapes, only use enough water to prevent scorching. Crush the berries and grapes in the kettle to start the juicing process. Stir fruit constantly to prevent scorching.
Allow the fruit to cook only until it reaches the boiling stage, about 10-25 minutes depending upon the fruit. The fruit needs to be soft, but excessive boiling will diminish the flavor of the jelly.
After the fruit has been cooked, pour it through the straining cloth to separate the juice and fruit. Place the straining cloth (some home jelly makers use a jelly bag for this step) over the 2nd large kettle and allow the juice to seep through without any pressing and squeezing. If you do find it necessary to press or squeeze the fruit to extract all the juices, strain the fruit juice the second time before making jelly.
The fruit juice you now have is the basis for making jelly. Gather the remaining utensils and ingredients needed for your particular jelly recipe, measure all ingredients exactly. Canning jars should be inspected for chips and placed to soak in hot water. Most jelly recipes call for a quick cooking time of about 10 minutes, and when making jelly, 1 minute either way will make the difference in the consistency of the finished jelly product. Have everything ready prior to adding the sugar, citrus acid and/or pectin to your fruit juice and cooking. Remove canning jars and lids from the hot water and invert on a towel just as you begin to cook the jelly.
Cook according to your jelly recipe and test throughout the cooking time for the jelly point by dipping a cool metal spoon in the mixture, lift the spoon out of the boiling jelly mixture and tilt sideways. As the jelly process begins, the jelly will come off the spoon like syrup, as the cooking continues, the jelly will become heavier and drop off the spoon 2 drops at a time. When the jelly point has been reached, the 2 drops of jelly will come together on the spoon and come off the spoon in a sheet, not separate drops. If you choose to use a timer or thermometer to determine the jelly point, it’s still wise to use the spoon test method, since altitude and barometric pressure will affect the jelly point.
Place large mouth funnel onto hot canning jar and quickly ladle the hot jelly into the hot jar, leaving 1/4 inch headspace on top. Wipe the canning jar rim with a damp cloth to remove any spills, place hot canning lid and screw on the lid band. Invert the hot jars of jelly for a few seconds so all bacteria which may be on the lid will be destroyed.
Set jars of jelly upright and allow to cool to room temperature. Check for jar seal, remove bands and store your fresh batch of homemade jelly in a cool, dry location until you are ready to eat it.