How can I fix my jelly that didn't jell???

angelovearthAugust 28, 2010

Boy am I glad I found you guys! I sure hope you all can help!

Ok, so I know what I did wrong. Here's the recipe I used:

4 tsp. unflavored gelatin

2 c. unsweetened apple juice

Artificial sweetener to equal 1 c. sugar

1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice

Wash and rinse 2 half-pint jars and lids. Cover with hot water. Bring to a boil; remove jars and lids and drain on towel.

To make jelly, soften gelatin in 1/2 cup of the apple juice. Bring remaining 1 1/2 cups juice to a boil; remove from heat. Add softened gelatin, stirring to dissolve. Add artificial sweetener, lemon juice and food coloring, as desired. Bring to a full rolling boil. Fill jars, leaving 1/8-inch head space at top. Place lids on jars and screw bands tight. Invert jars for one minute. Stand jars upright to cool. (If center of lid stays down, jars are properly sealed.) Refrigerate.

That last word is what threw me off. I didn't want to have to refrigerate it, so I processed the jars in the water canner for 15 minutes. I had a tad bit of jelly left over, so I poured that into a regular glass and left that out to cool. (didn't get processed) It's the only one that actually jelled. So the reason it didn't jell is because I exposed it to the boiling water for so long. (For jelly, my book said to process for 5 minutes but at my altitude, I'm supposed to do 10 minutes more)

The reason I used this recipe in the first place is because I previously made jelly with sugar but waited and waited and waited for the temp to reach 220*F. That jelly is VERY hard and difficult to smear. Well, it turns out, after some searching on the internet, that at my altitude (4500') I was only supposed to let it reach 112*F.

So, my question is, is there a way to still get that runny jelly to jell (well, it's basically juice) and is there a way to get the hard jelly to unjell so much?

Thanks so much for your advice!

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readinglady(z8 OR)

I'm assuming you don't have any vegetarians in the family as gelatin is a meat product. It's also not kosher or halal.

This statement comes from the NCHFP (originally from the USDA): When gelatin is used in the recipe, the jars of spread should not be processed. They should be refrigerated and used within 4 weeks.

I know of one NCHFP recipe for a fig-strawberry jam with jello that's processed, but it's the only one, and in that case you have a good amount of natural pectin to set.

I'm sorry your jelly didn't work. You're right that using a boiling water bath is the problem. Commercial juices are low in pectin and that jelly is "set" like jell-o. If you heat it jell-o melts, and that's exactly what happened.

I'm assuming refrigeration doesn't re-set it. If not, the only option would be to add a no-sugar pectin like Pomona. It would set your jelly. Just follow the instructions on the insert. I would not process or shelve it. I would refrigerate it even if set, per the original instructions.

The extra-firm jelly can be fixed for eating by adding a tablespoon or two of hot water to the jar (amount desired) and stirring it in when you open it. That's the easiest way. Given the long cooking time, the jelly probably tastes a bit overcooked, but there are still a lot of ways it can be used.

Good luck. It's all part of the learning curve.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 11:49AM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

You never process that kind of "jelly". It basically is nothing more than "jello". I found it to be gross. It is not processed since it will never gel, plus, if it did, gelatin is animal based and not meant for canning. Especially in a BWB canner.
If you want no sugar jelly or jam, then use real fruit and Pomona's pectin. It is a processed product. Like that Polanars All Fruit or those other brands in the stores.
Pomonas can be used with other sweeteners or no sweetener at all. Order the pectin online in most cases.
I think you mean 212 degrees, not 112 degrees for jelly at your altitude.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 12:02PM
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Haha, yes thank you, I did mean 212. =)
I will try to find some of this Pomona's. Thank you!
I had no idea it'd be so hard to make jelly. I made some a few years ago and all went well. I just didn't want the jelly to be so sweet. It was just pure sweet with all the sugar and had no apple flavor. Btw, I'm using crab apples.

Also, can I reuse lids of jars that didn't process properly? I made some apple pie filling yesterday as well and the first time around they didn't seal. I processed them again with new lids, but I'm wondering if I can use the first lids that didn't seal.

Thank you Carol for the tip on the hard jelly as well. I'll try that. It doesn't taste burnt, it's just really stiff. I also didn't know I needed to use it within 4 weeks. Thanks for that info!

You're right linda. I didn't think of it that way. Do you all think I could reprocess with sugar and bring to the jelling point?

Anyway, thanks very much for helping me!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 2:31PM
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angelovearth - reusing the lids is not a good idea at all. They probably won't seal properly.

(this is why I hate remaking jelly - you have to unseal the whole batch and waste all those lids.)

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 2:40PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

No, your "jello" jelly is toast ! Unless you can get it to set in the fridge. Then, you have to eat it within just a couple weeks. That is not really what I consider "jelly".
You can order the Pomonas from them online. Hard to find it at any stores, and they would be health food stores, not regular retail stores.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 4:36PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I agree with the above - jelly isn't made with gelatin. It is made with pectin - either from a box like Pomona or Sure Jell or Ball or Certo or one of the many other brands. Or from the natural pectin already in the fruit.

And there are several brands of low or no-sugar pectins available too that allow you to use little or no sugar if that is your goal. Or even use Splenda or a similar artificial sweetener.

But the recipe you used doesn't make jelly. It makes jello and there is no way to salvage melted jello. Sorry.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 4:55PM
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The one that did jell that I had in the fridge and didn't process tastes absolutely disgusting! yuck. I had no idea. I won't be doing that again! It really is just jello. I tried to add sugar to it and am currently reprocessing it but I do think that it's not going to work. It's a shame to waste all that apple juice! ...lesson learned!

...I just looked up Pomonas and found the picture of it and realized that I HAVE SOME OF THAT!!! From the last time I canned a couple of years ago. It says it keeps indefinitely. Do you all think I can salvage some with this Pomona's or is it still a lost cause because I used the gelatin?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 5:50PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Well, it will probably jell the mixture but since it already tastes disgusting, why waste the Pomona on that? Pomona won't make it taste one bit better than it does right now.

I'd toss the batch. It's sad but sometimes that's the only option.

Then check the recipes on the Pomona insert and at their website. They have some good suggestions for jams and jellies you can boiling water bath and that use little or no sugar.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 5:57PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

You should not can that jelly ! Not with the gelatin. It is not used in any canning since it is an animal by product. It is not a high acid item.
Please, just toss it and chalk it up to experience.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 7:43PM
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Ok, thank you. I will just toss it and I'll know not ever to do that again. But, you say it's an animal by-product. I know people who make stew and such out of deer they get during hunting season. Is that not safe then?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 7:48PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I know people who make stew and such out of deer they get during hunting season. Is that not safe then?

There are ways to pressure can meat, yes. It is the gelatin, because it is a thickener and interferes with heat transmission, that can't be used. It cannot be added even to meats before canning.

With a very few exceptions, the only thickeners allowed in canning is a product called Clear Jel and the fruit-based pectins used in jams and jellies.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 8:43PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

As I mentioned above, I only know of one approved sweet preserve that calls for gelatin and is canned.

It's comparing apples and oranges to think of gelatin in a refrigerated preserve (which was the original recommendation in your recipe - a Ball recipe, by the way) as opposed to canning something like venison, which as Linda Lou points out, requires a pressure canner. That's a world away from 10-minute boiling water bath.


Here is a link that might be useful: Canned Fig-Strawberry Preserves with Gelatin

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 9:16PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Carol is right, pressure canning a low acid meat in a pressure canner and trying to use a meat based item in a high acid procedure are two totally different things.
Of course, it is safe to process venison and all sorts of meat, but they are low acid and treated as such. They require a pressure canner and processed for long periods of time.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 10:14PM
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Yes, of course. You would use the pressure canner for meats. Thank you all for your responses. I've learned a lot by talking with you. You all are a wealth of knowledge. I'm really glad to have found this forum. I will not ever make anything with gelatin again! =)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 10:30AM
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I have found Pomona's Pectin locally at Whole Foods.

My local health food store had never heard of it.


You can also get it from Amazon.

Here is a link that might be useful: Amazon

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 11:19AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Here's the Pomona Pectin page with several downloadable PDF documents containing all their recipes. They offer a wide range of choices.

Good luck. You'll get there. It just takes time.


Here is a link that might be useful: Pomona Pectin Recipes

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 12:33PM
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I should have known something wasn't quite right when I was making the gelatin and I got a distinct smell of pig's feet! LOL! =)

Thanks for the links!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 9:40PM
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