Date: May 1989
Source: University of Wisconsin
Fruit gives each product its special flavor and provides at least part of the pectin needed for successful gels. Weigh or measure ready-to-use fruit. Weighing is more accurate than measuring.
Full-flavored fruits are best because the large proportion of sugar you add for good consistency and keeping quality dilutes the flavor. You need a tart juice for good-tasting jelly.
Various lots of fruit differ in composition, therefore recipe formulas may not always give the same results.
To make a perfect jelly, the pectin, acid, sugar and juice must be in the right proportions. Fruits vary in the amounts of pectin and acid they contain.
Fruits rich in both pectin and acid are: crab apples, green apples, cranberries, currants, gooseberries, tart plums and grapes.
Fruits rich in acid, but low in pectin are: strawberries, cherries, rhubarb, pineapple and raspberries.
Fruits rich in pectin, but low in acid are: sweet apples and quinces.
Fruits low in both pectin and acid are: peaches, pears and blueberries.
If a fruit is low in either pectin or acid, combine it with one or more fruits rich in the needed pectin or acid.
Pectin and acid change with the maturity of the fruit; both decrease as the fruit ripens. For best results, use a mixture of slightly underripe and ripe fruit. Never use overripe fruit to make jelly.
If you are not sure about the fruit, use commercial pectin which takes the guesswork out of making jellies and related products.
Commercial fruit pectins, which are made from apples or citrus fruits, come in two forms--powdered or liquid. When you use recipes calling for liquid or powdered fruit pectin, follow proportions and techniques exactly because the recipes are balanced to ensure a correct gel. Do not substitute one form for the other.
Modified pectins and low methoxyl pectins are available also. These make jelly making with less or no sugar possible. Follow manufacturer's directions.
Additional information on this topic is included in the Extension bulletin HE-172, "Jams, Jellies and Preserves," which is available at your county office of the NDSU Extension Service.
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