Trio of Good Jamming Ingredients. – Has It Jelled Yet?

ball floral backgroundTo make a great jam, jelly, or marmalade, you need three components to work in harmony: acid, pectin, and sugar. If the proportions of each or any one of these is off, you may not be happy with the results.
Acid:
 
Added to the mixture as citrus juice {usually lemon} or tartaric acid, this improves both the taste and appearance of the finished product, and in conjunction with pectin, it helps the mixture to jell.
Pectin:
 
Most fruits contain some amount of pectin naturally, and it is released when the fruit is boiled, but not all fruit are created equal.
Apples are known for their pectin, and so are sometimes added in one form or another to fruits that are lower in pectin to help them jell.
Currants and red plums are also high-pectin fruits; moderate-pectin fruits include apricots, blue berries, peaches, and raspberries. Pectin is also found in peels {particularly citrus} and seeds, so these are sometimes included in part of a recipe to release their pectin during cooking. Pectin is also available in liquid and powdered forms {check out health food stores and larger supermarkets}. If you do canning regularly, it is prudent to keep some on hand, just in case your jam or marmalade or jelly is being uncooperative. Follow the manufacture’s directions carefully.
Sugar:
 

Another factor in jelling, sugar {either beet or cane} also helps to preserve the fruit and really brings out its flavor in addition to adding sweetness and countering any bitter taste, such as lemon.

Has It Jelled Yet?
The crucial moment in jam- and jelly-making is the temperature at which the mixture jells and no longer needs to be cooked. To determine that “jelling point,” most cooking experts highly recommend that you use a candy thermometer, but the plate test works pretty well too.
Thermometer:
 
Determine the jelling point for your altitude.
Hold a candy thermometer vertically in a pot of boiling water. Read the thermometer at eye level and add 8 degrees F – for the jelling point. From sea level to about 1,000 feet above, the boiling point should be 212 degrees F -and the jelling point is 220 degrees F.
Plate Method:
 
At the point indicated in the recipe, remove the saucepan from the heat and drop a teaspoon of the jam or jelly onto a small, cold plate. Lightly press the jam or jelly with a fingertip-the surface should wrinkle, indicating that it has begun to jell.
If the jam or jelly is still too liquid or does not pass the press test, return the saucepan to the heat and cook a few minutes longer, then retest.
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