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Remedies for Jelly, Preserves Problems


Problem Diagnosis Remedy
Formation of crystals. 1. Excess sugar 1. Test fruit juice with jelmeter for proper proportions of sugar.
2. Undissolved sugar sticking to sides of kettle. 2. Wipe side of pan free of crystals with damp cloth before filling jars.
3. Tartrate crystals in grape juice. 3. Make grape jelly stock, pasteurize, and let tartrate crystals settle out before making jelly. Refrigerate juice before making jelly.
4. Mixture cooked too slowly or too long. 4. Cook at a rapid boil. Remove from heat immediately when jellying point is reached.

Too soft. 1. Overcooking fruit extract juice. 1. Avoid overcooking as this lowers the jellying capacity of pectin.
2. Incorrect proportions of sugar and juice. 2. Follow recommended instructions.
3. Undercooking causing insufficient concentration. 3. Cook rapidly to jelling point.
4. Insufficient acid. 4. Lemon juice is sometimes added if the fruit is acid deficient.
5. Making too large a batch at one time. 5. Use only 4 to 6 cups of juice in each batch of jelly.

Syneresis or “weeping.” 1. Excess acid in juice makes pectin unstable. 1. Maintain proper acidity of juice.
2. Storage place too warm or storage temperature fluctuated. 2. Store in cool, dark, and dry place.
3. Paraffin seal too thick. 3. Seal jelly with a single thin layer of paraffin 1/8-inch thick. Prick air bubbles in paraffin.

Too stiff or tough. 1. Overcooking. 1. Cook jelly mixture to a temperature 8º higher than the boiling point of water or until it “sheets” from a spoon.
2. Too much pectin in fruit. 2. Use ripe fruit. Decrease amount if using commercial pectin.
3. Too little sugar which requires excessive cooking. 3. When pectin is not added, use 3/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup juice for most fruits.

Cloudiness. 1. Green fruit (starch). 1. Use firm, ripe, or slightly underripe fruit.
2. Imperfect straining. 2. Do not squeeze juice but let it drip through jelly bag.
3. Juice allowed to stand before it was poured into jars or poured too slowly. 3. Pour into jars immediately upon reaching jellying point. Work quickly.

Darker than normal in color. 1. Overcooking sugar and juice. 1. Avoid long boiling. Best to make small quantity of jelly and cook rapidly.

Fermentation. Spoilage evident (do not use). 1. Yeasts grow on jelly when seal is not airtight (especially in paraffin sealed jars). 1. Use vacuum sealing. Test seal before storing.

Mold. Denotes spoilage; do not use. 1. Imperfect sealing. 1. Use recommended methods to get airtight seal.
2. Lack of proper sanitation. 2. Sterilize jelly glasses and all equipment used.


Problem Diagnosis Remedy
Shriveled product. 1. Syrup at outset is too heavy for the fruit used. 1. Begin fruit in syrup thin enough so this will gradually replace the liquid drawn from the fruit–thus they retain original size and shape.

Not a characteristic fruit flavor. 1. Overcooked or scorched. 1. Should be stirred frequently when mixture begins to thicken to prevent sticking. Cook only to jellying point.
2. Inferior fruit used. 2. Select only sound, good flavored fruit.

Tough product. 1. Starting fruit in a syrup too heavy. 1. Cook each fruit at first according to directions, then by evaporation, gradually increase the concentration of the syrup as it diffuses into the fruit.
2. Not plumping fruit properly. 2. Fruit should plump at least 24 hours covered in syrup before being canned.
3. Overcooking. 3. Cook according to directions.

Sticky, gummy product. 1. Overcooking. 1. Follow accepted directions for each product. (cook only until syrup is quite thick and syrup is translucent.)

Darker than normal in color. 1. Cooking too large quantities at a time. 1. It is usually best to cook not more than 2-4 pounds of prepared fruit at a time.
2. Cooked too slowly. 2. A better color is usually produced if the product is cooked rapidly.
3. Overcooked. 3. Cook only until syrup is quite thick and the fruit is fairly translucent.

Loss of color. 1. Improper storage. 1. Store in a dark, dry, cool place.

Mold or fermentation. 1. Improper sealing. 1. Jars should be sealed airtight.
2. Failure to process finished product. 2. Processing preserved product in boiling water bath (212º F) is an added protection against mold or fermentation.
3. Improper storage. 3. Store in dark, dry, cool place.
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