Summer’s Bounty- Jams and Jellies
I always make sure that I have plenty of jelly for our family, and the easiest and cheapest way to do that is to make your own. In the summertime, you can usually always find folks who have fruits and berries that they are begging for people to take off their hands, or to sell really cheap. Only buy fruit if it is dirt cheap, and you are SURE that you will like the end result as a jam or jelly!
My grandmother taught me the simplest way to make jams and jellies, and it doesn’t involve buying powdered pectin from the store. Not only is pectin expensive, but it doesn’t always set up like it promises, and those two reasons alone (for me) make it more of a hassle than a help. The following recipe will produce a “softer” consistency, but you will still have enough jell for it to hold together nicely.
1 c. crushed fruit, juice, or mixture of fruits
1 ¼ c. sugar
Prepare the fruit as for any recipe (chopped strawberries for preserves, grapes cooked and juiced for jelly, or a mix of fruits ) and heat on the stove. For each cup of fruit or juice, add the 1 ¼ c, sugar, and bring mixture to a full boil. WATCH THIS CAREFULLY as it WILL boil over if not constantly stirred. After 7 minutes, start to check the consistency- dip up some on your spoon and let it cool slightly, and see if it sticks to the spoon, or “sheets” from it. This is the sign that it is almost done. Cook for about 2 minutes longer, and check again. If it has thickened more, then you can remove it from the heat and put into your hot, sterilized jars. Wipe the rims, put on the lids and place in a water bath for 10 minutes. Let cool completely, label, and store.
This procedure has worked with every kind of jelly or jam that I have tried, and it comes out beautifully! The joy of it is when someone shows up at 9 at night with a sack full of fruit, you can whip up your preserves in no time flat, without having to wait until you can make a trip to the store to buy pectin.
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