Problems with jam

karriephammondAugust 20, 2011

I am having problems with jam. I am new to canning and just can't seem to get my jam to turn out. I have been using the Ball book strawberry and peach jam recipes but they always turn out runny what can I do does anyone have suggestions or recipes that might turn out better

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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Get Pomona's pectin. It gels anything and it is so good since you can use no sugar or sugar, stevia, honey, anything you want. Make up recipes, double them, etc. and they turn out.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 11:21PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

If you are talking about old-fashioned fruit jams without commercial pectin, both strawberries and peaches are challenging to start out with because both fruits are low in natural pectin.

You can make wonderful jams with them but they probably aren't the best choice for a beginner.

Use Pomona as Linda_Lou recommends or buy powdered or liquid regular pectin and follow the recipes on the package insert.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 1:22AM
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My peach jam (without pectin) also came out loose. I did one batch last week with Pomona and that batch is jelled fine. But the 10 jars I did this weekend are loose. I don't mind the loose jam because we use it in yogurt anyway. But my question is this . . . is fruit jam ever not safe because of too little pectin and/or sugar? I always put the jars in a BW bath for 15 minutes or more, and I add either lemon juice or ascorbic acid.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 9:50AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

No. Pectin has no relationship to food safety. Sugar sometimes contributes to food safety but only with the very rare fruits that have a high pH - that is, melons (cantaloupe jam), figs, bananas. Aside from those few it doesn't matter. Even then, the additional acid is far more important.

Generally if acid is added to jam it's to improve the set as there has to be a balance of pectin, acid and sugar. It's not required except for the jams above.

If you reduce the sugar in a typical fruit jam it will likely have a shorter shelf life, especially once opened. But it isn't a safety issue.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 10:26AM
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Thanks Carol. I didn't think so. Just checking because I'm trying to be more mindful of doing things in an approved manner, especially since I've been canning more and more over the years. I was surprised to learn on here last year, as an example, that tomato puree requires added vinegar. When I started canning 30 years ago that wasn't required to be considered safe.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 11:41AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

that tomato puree requires added vinegar

Actually it requires bottled lemon juice or citric acid. Vinegar is listed as an acceptable alternative but it takes 2x as much vinegar.


Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato Acidification Guidelines

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 1:31PM
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Grrrrrrowl. I'm lucky I haven't killed my family yet, lol.

We grow tomatoes meant for canning, i.e. speckled romas, so at least we are starting with a fairly high acidity. Last year, I added 1 Tab. of white vinegar per quart, but I see I should have added 4 Tablespoons to be in compliance with the recommendations. We do boil the puree before tasting for 30 minutes or so, which is what may be keeping us safe.

Anyway, this year I'll use the citric acid. Does it change the flavor much? One of these summers, Dave, I'll get it 100 percent right! Actually, now that I think about it, so far this summer I am in compliance 100% thanks to you and others on GW : )

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 2:10PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I'm not sure how you concluded that tomatoes meant for canning are high acidity. I can think of a number of paste varieties that are low acidity. Martino's Roma is 4.6pH, Pete's Italian and Russian Big Roma are 4.7pH. All of these are used for canning and all are lower-acid.

To add to the confusion, seed sellers may sometimes identify a tomato as high-acid, meaning only that of the many flavor elements, the acidity is most prominent, but that may be a result of a lower sugar level and has nothing to do with pH as measured.

You can also get significant differences in pH for a single variety depending upon location, growing conditions (exposure to sunshine), and ripeness.

There are just too many variables to make any assumptions about the pH of a given variety at time of use.


    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 5:42PM
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