strawberry preserves wont jell

We made strawberry preserves as instructed, adding the pectin and sugar as instructed. Didn't jell. did it again as instructions on pectin package, still did not jell, why

  • Posted by: Lildevil
  • September 6, 2011


Esther P. September 8, 2011
I second mainecook61 - incorporating a fruit that has a high pectin level makes all the difference, I never use pectin in my jams, instead I add a cooking apple, or make strawberry and gooseberry jam, as they're in season at the same time, and the gooseberries ar another high pectin fruit.
Author Comment
Going to the Colorado State Univesity Extension fact sheet site migh be of help to you including several of the comments to your question. To to:
Please remember that you have a treasure in those jars that did not gel....You have a great fresh flavoring to put into a glass then add a scoop of ice cream and then some soda for a great a Root Beer Float but your's will be a Berry Float. Add you strawberry preserve to some unsweetened Apple Sauce and make Strawberry Fruit Leather, this is food dehydration. It may not have been one thing that went wrong. Sometimes I have found that some jams that I have made did not gel, but then 2 weeks later it has!!!!!
Enjoy your strawberries!!!!!!
Lildevil September 6, 2011
mainecook61 Iwill have to try your way next season.
Thanks to all I am copying your sugestions and placing them in a folder in my recipe folder.
amritai September 6, 2011
I have seen many people who freeze their jams which do not jell properly as a last resort and out of sheer frustration .This is a big time risk because if there is any water content it might freeze to ice.Also while making the preserve if you have added water to the fruit instead of letting it puree by itself on low heat you might end up with runny jam.As a previous writer mentioned a suggestion is to put the jam in a clean vessel and add a tbsp more of pectin to it.Boil it on very low heat till a line drawn with a spoon in the pan leaves a clean line which remains separated.Then allow it to cool a little and ladle it into clean jars.
mainecook61 September 6, 2011
Ah, jam-making. Sometimes it's just a mystery. I always use the same formula for raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries, and it works every time: 3/4 cup sugar to one cup of mashed, squashed, tightly packed in the cup berries. For strawberries, add a couple tablespoons of lemon juice. No pectin at all. The trick is to cook it down enough; a candy thermometer is handy (220 degrees). Eventually you get good at watching it sheet off the spoon. I did have a moment of doubt while recently using this formula to make plum jam---had a bad "setting" vibe and ran out and picked a tart apple from the tree, grated it fine into the plums, and no problem! The jam set up nicely. However, I am no good with blueberries. They seem to have different pectin needs, and I'd rather eat them fresh anyway.
AntoniaJames September 6, 2011
You could also add a bit of cornstarch, cook until it thickens a bit, cool, and then use as a layer between chocolate or yellow cake. Yummm!! ;o)
Lildevil September 6, 2011
I thank you all for the comeback. Oh well, we now have a case and a half of ice cream topping.
Again, thanks,
AntoniaJames September 6, 2011
P.S. I had a batch of strawberry jam made using the recipe in Christine Ferber's book, Mes Confitures. It did not set. I realize that the French like their jam a bit looser than we do, but this was just too messy for my taste. (A lot of our jam is used on sandwiches, which means that loose jam can be messy, especially when the people making/eating the sandwiches -- the college-age sons -- don't use plates, and often are not sitting down when eating them.) I used this extra loose jam as a sauce instead, heating it gently with a vanilla bean, letting it cool a bit, and then serving it over plain Greek yogurt (I also put it in the bottle of a small dessert dish, then top it with the yogurt or vanilla ice cream into which I've stirred some Greek yogurt, almost like a Bavarian creams I enjoyed in Munich a few years ago.) It would also go well over the new tart frozen yogurts you can buy in the store. Top with a few toasted almonds!! ;o)
AntoniaJames September 6, 2011
A time-honored trick for correcting set errors is to take a single jar of the jam and to remake it with more pectin . . . . a small amount, calculated to be about half of what you'd use per jar if you were starting from the beginning. Don't add more sugar. If using Pomona pectin, do add the required amount of calcium water. Boil for exactly one minute, then process the single jar. You can do it in an ordinary pot that's large enough to cover it, but set it in the middle with a folded dishcloth on the bottom for stability. Process as you did the first time. Let it sit for no less than 48 hours before opening. Yes, the directions all say 24, but I've seen changes in set over a period of as long as a week. If the experiment works, process all the other jars using that ratio. If it doesn't, add a bit more. I'd even do this one more time on a second single jar. As noted by A Whole Foods Market Customer, make sure your pectin is good and fresh. Good luck!! ;o)
Author Comment
The key to that rolling crazy boil seems to be holding it no more or no less than one minute - no matter the altitude. Also, check the expiration date on your pectin; it won't gel if it's old. For any question on food preserving, there is a wealth of information at Colorado State University Extension website: If you are in our Boulder County area, please sign up for and come to our Food Preserving 101 class this Friday 9/9 from 4-6 with Ann Zander from CSU.
MrsWheelbarrow September 6, 2011
My guess is you have not cooked the fruit down far enough before adding the pectin. When the recipe says bring the fruit to a boil, that means a full on rolling crazy boil. What's called a boil that won't stir down. I hope that's helpful!
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