strawberry jam didnt set

mojojojogrlnj(6anj)May 27, 2008

ugh spent most of my day yesterday making strawberry jam that didnt set...can I re boil and add pectin...I think honestly my strawberries were over ripe... any help would be great

if not anyone interested in strawberry syrup lol...

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Fresh pectin and plenty of sugar are very important. Because these have already been added, about all you can do is to either use as a syrup, or add a little more sugar and another box of pectin. Be sure to bring to a full rolling boil prior to filling jars. I usually see globs of setting jelly sticking to the ladle when I fill my jars. Its a good indication that there is a set. Also, I pour a small amount in a saucer, and place in the freezer a minute to see if it alse sets up. Another choice would be to try the Pomona pectin. This product has no expiration date, and requires no sugar to set like regular pectin does. Additionally, regular pectin has a short shelf life, as I found out, and I used twice the amount called for in a recipe, and got a decent set. Careful on the reboiling as it can scorch if its not stirred enough.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 9:04AM
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gran2(z5 INDIANA)

The maturity of the fruit does indeed have a lot to do with the set, and strawberries aren't that rich in natural pectin in the first place. Did you use additional pectin the first time, or just cook the fruit and sugar together? I've had such good luck using jello instead of sure-jel. Much much cheaper and always on the shelf, and I can add a little extra flavor at the same time - like rasberry/rhubarb. My that was yummy. I'd think at this point it would be futile to open all those jars and re-process. Stock up on ice cream and pancake mix.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 1:29PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)


Can you give us specifics on using jello?
How much sugar, if any? Can you use sugar-free jello?
Sounds interesting.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 1:52PM
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mellyofthesouth(9a FL)

I made spelt hazelnut waffles from the King Arther whole grain baking book this weekend. I served them with runny strawberry and sour cherry preserves from last year. Yum! I had the cherry since I'm allergic to strawberry, but my 11 year old preferred the strawberry.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 2:07PM
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joybugaloo(z4 NY)

I prefer maple syrup on my pancakes and waffles, so I really don't need runny jam hanging around taking up space!

If it were me, I would simply reboil the jam until it reaches the desired consistency. You could add more pectin, but you might end up with jam that would bounce if dropped on the floor. Tee hee.

Open your jars, add the jam back to the pot, and get her up to a rolling boil. Check every five minutes after that. The easiest test is to chill a small plate in the freezer by placing a little dollop of jam on the plate, and pushing it with your finger. If it wrinkles on the surface as you push, it's done. If it stays smooth and runny, cook it another five minutes and check again. You may also use a candy thermometer to check for the set. Depending on your altitude, of course, you're hoping to hit 219-221. That works, too.

Good luck! --Gina

Here is a link that might be useful: Lindsey's Luscious (my food blog)

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 2:23PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Jello and all gelatin is a protien, and will break down in a canning process to a watery liquid. Its unsuitable for home preserves and jelly making. If its for refrigerator use only, it may be OK for a couple of weeks however. Pomona pectin is a good alternative to regular pectin, as it uses calcium to set, instead of the need for a lot, or even any sugar. As mentioned in my inital post, put a small amount of the cooked jelly in a saucer and place in the freezer for a minute to see if its sets up. If it does firm up, get redy to fill the jars. Pomona pectin is a bit pricy, but a single box can make up to 20 eight ounce jars of strawberry preserves.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 5:58PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

You don't need to do anything yet. It is way to soon. Sometimes it takes a month or longer for jams to gel. Let it sit a while and then see.
Then, if you want you can get the directions for remaking it and redo it. It turns out more gummy like when you redo it, though.
Gelatin is usually added for flavor, not as a thickener in jams.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 12:34AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Citrus based jams usually take a lot longer setting up time. Sometimes a month or more. In any case, if it does fail to set after 2 months, you can still recook and add more pectin at that time.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 1:55PM
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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

Mojo, several yeas ago I used Certo for making jellies and jams. But for the last several years I swithed over to using Sure-Jell for making strawberry jam. More often than not, over the last several years I have not gotten my strawberry jam to set. It was always runny. I'm sure it was in part due to my "adjustments". I have always "pushed" the pectin. By "pushing" I mean I kept the pectin per the recipe but added more sugar and fruit. When adding it is important to maintain the proper recipe ratio of sugar to fruit.

This year I went back to Certo and as always I again pushed the recipe keeping the fruit to sugar ratio per the recipe. I recall the recipe numbers were 7 c sugar to 4 c fruit mix. I pushed every recipe to the 5 plus cups fruit mix. The largest was a 10 c sugar to 5.75 fruit mix. Each of my 4 recipes had only one pkt of Certo. All 4 batches jelled perfectly. So needles to say I've decided to go back to using Certo (unless I a thinner set is desired).

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 4:12PM
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I agree with Linda Lou, let it set a bit longer and see if it jells. You can recook it with more SureJell but you'll get something with a texture reminiscent of gummy bears, or strawberry taffy.

I'd do like Gina, dump it all in a pan and bring it to jell point. You have to be VERY careful, though, it'll "caramelize" easily and it can happen before you know it, so watch it. When a bit of jam sets up on a frozen plate, put it back into jars and process.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 8:02PM
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I'm still a newbie, and I've found strawberries to be the most difficult fruit to can. I'm trying another batch tonight. I washed and let the berries air dry on the counter all night, next to an open window - to dry them out a tad.

My very first batch I tried to do without pectin (after a spectacular no-pectin batch of blackberry preserves) and I boiled and boiled and boiled due to all the liquid from the strawberries. Then I started smelling the carmelization, so I stopped. That batch ended up as ice cream topping, LOL - but delicious!

Recipes call for keeping the strawberries out all night, so I will see what happens today. I'm experimenting with low-sugar pectin. I'm just an experimenter I guess.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 1:47PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The Pomona pectin may be the best way to set the jelly. Its more reliable compared to any regular, or no/low pectin. I haven't attempted to make any jelly without adding some kind of pectin and a beginner can get very frustrated if the stuff burns or doesn't set. It may be much easier to make a few batches of jelly and jam to set using the required pectins. As mentioned, because many jellies seem way too sweet to me, I like adding some acid blend to make them a little more tart. It doesn't affect the set, but gives quite a lot more flavor to an otherwise 'ho hum' jam. My last batch of strawberry jam was made with some berries I grew here, and was gone in less than a month. Some berries have quite a lot more water in them. Its usually the really big ones that are for show. Driscoll strawberries seem to be the most flavorful, but are only seen at a limited amount of time.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 6:35PM
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I have always made my jams the old fashioned way, with no added pectin. It is true you have to keep stirring to make sure it doesn't scorch, but if you keep the thermometer hooked to the side and keep a good eye on it, you can't really miss the gel stage.

I have had jams that take a while to set for some reason, so don't despair yet, mojo. However, if after a few weeks it still hasn't set, another thing to do with it is make fruit leather, if you have a dehydrator.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 9:55AM
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gran2(z5 INDIANA)

My recipe calls for 4 cups of diced rhubarb, 3-4 cups sugar (I prefer the lesser amount and add a few chopped leaves of lemon balm to enhance the sweetness), and a 3-oz pkg of strawberry jello. (I used raspberry the last time and it was wonderful!) Pour the sugar over the rhubarb and let stand overnight. Then cook the sugar and 'barb for 10 minutes and add the jello, stir to combine and ladle into jars. BWB for 15 minutes to seal. Yes, I've used sugar free as well. Does just as well. I've found jam on the shelf 3 or 4 years old and was still decent, even though I know the experts say it shouldn't work. I've used this recipe for 20 years or more.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 12:15AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Adding 'jello' is a dangerous thing to do for making jelly. Jello is a protein and is in the same family as a meat. I would be very concerned about the use of a gelatin in any home jelly making, unless it was freezer jam and was to be eaten within a few days of thawing. I have never seen a valid, safe, recipe that uses gelatin in any way to make a fruit product that gets thick and is for use as a jelly.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 1:55PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

My strawberry rhubarb jam did not set last year. I was really bummed, because I didn't know what I was going to do with all that strawberry rhubarb "sauce" either! Well let me tell you, I have been lovin' it. I put it on waffles with vanilla yogurt (add a little diced bannana on top if you want). I put it on cake, mix it in with yogurt, use it in smoothies, put it in parfaits with vanilla pudding and even spread it thinly on toast. It's a taste not to be found in stores, that's what really makes it a worthwhile product, not the consistency, IMHO.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 8:40AM
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Hey-i've read all these postings and have a question. I made strawberry jam this year and for the first time ever it didn't set. I followed directions and redid and still no set. it tastes great but no set. I used very late season strawberries and live in Georgia where it is extremely humid right now--those are the only reasons I can find for no set this year. I usually use these for Christmas gifts. I read some suggestions that the runny jam can be a great pancake topper. I'm wondering--and this is probably a stupid question---but if it isn't set will it still be ok to put up until Christmas? I did use the water bath method after cooking to sterilize.....

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 3:27PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yes it will still be fine - set or not isn't a safety issue, just an appearance issue.

Lots of reasons why set sometimes doesn't happen and the late season berries may be more prone to problems. But most seem to boil down to type and amount of pectin used as well as the age of the pectin.

Then again my wife, who is the jam and jelly expert in our family, says humidity does play a role and that "some days you just can't make jam". Of course she says the same thing about gravy. ;)

Enjoy your strawberry syrup.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 3:44PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

It could be that whatever pectin you used is expired? Sometimes jams do take a few weeks to a few months to set, but thats more common with citrus based jams.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 1:22AM
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Thanks so much. This conversation has helped a lot. 40 pints of strawberry syrup later...LOL. No problems with my beautiful cherry jam made virtually same way (only more sugar for the strawberries ).I will try to be patient and hold on shelves before dumping the lot in a pot and trying again. Suspect the strawberries had too much age. Anyway, we love waffles and pancakes, smoothies and guess it's the lot in life of a jam maker.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 2:53PM
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My blueberry jam didn't set either. I need more sugar and more pectin I think. I don't have as much (12) 1/2 pints. Silly me, I was going to make blueberry chutney, but thought jam would be easier! Whatever.
My husband will throw this crap in his smoothies every morning. Someone did give me hope that it still might set up. PRAY, start again tomorrow. MAKE CHUTNEY!


    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 8:08PM
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I just made strawberry jam yesterday. Hot water bath method. They all set! They all popped! And I realized today that I never gave the lids their bath! (I'm obviousely new at this) Now what do I do? Can I open them all up and re-do (boil) the batch again? If the jars were cleaned, and the jam doesn't touch the lids, can I leave them alone; safely? Ugh. Are they all wasted now?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 4:52PM
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My jam never seems to set up. It seems crazy I can't use ripe strawberries, that is abt all we get here. I am hoping that my pectin was way too old or when I boiled it for one minute that it should have been to a rolling boil. I think I will get a thermometer and try that and the saucer test. I thought I could boil too long and ruin it, so I followed the instructions in the Ball book really carefully. It was frustrating to wake up to 4 doz pints of syrup again. I even made one batch at a time someone told me doubling a recipe could be the problem.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 12:39PM
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