Tips for Clearer Jellies
My trials and tribulations in making the rhubarb jelly last week, that I’d like to enter in the County Fair this year, reminded me that I had wanted to share some simple tips for getting clearer jellies.
You’ll notice that the cherry-berry jelly I made last year, while extremely tasty, does NOT have that clear, gem-like quality. The rhubarb jelly, on the other hand, DID.
A variety of reasons. Let’s go through some tips, and show what affect they had on the two jellies:
- Use fruit at peak ripeness. Unripe or underripe fruit can have a lot of starch, which can cause clouding. Overripe fruit can prevent your jelly from setting at all.
- When straining the fruit from the pulp, don’t push or wring the jelly bag. Be patient. Let gravity do the work. If you manhandle it, you’ll get a bunch of solids – and cloudy jelly. This was one source of my rather opaque cherry-berry jelly.
- Double-strain your juice. I usually take the juice, once it’s strained, and pass it once more through a sieve lined with dampened cheesecloth. I also did this with the rhubarb jelly – and not the cherry-berry.
- Once you start cooking your jelly, make sure you add about a half Tablespoon of unsalted butter. This will reduce the foaming. And then skim the foam that does come up.
- Choose your pectin carefully. Liquid pectin gives a clearer jelly than powdered. Don’t ask me why, I don’t have a good explanation. Maybe because it requires less effort to make sure it’s fully dissolved. If you’re using homemade pectin stock, make sure you strained THAT, too. And that cherry-berry? If you’ll recall, I just grated some apple into that fruit mixture. At no point was that jelly going to be clear.
- Put the jelly into jars while it’s still rocket-hot. As it cools, moving it around too much will cloud it. Then, skim the jars once more before you seal them.
The top jar has not been skimmed yet, the bottom jar has – although there is another little blob of foam that needs to be removed in the center.
It helps to have all of your equipment ready to go, so that as soon as your jelly is ready, you can get it in jars and ready to seal. Jars, clean and sanitized. Lids in a pot of hot (but not boiling!) water. Ladle, funnel, damp washcloth for wiping down the jar rims, and a towel to help hold the jars as you twist on the lids.
And there you are. My tips for fair-worthy, crystal-clear jellies.
Share pictures of your pantry jewels this Summer, and tag me!