Soft homemade jams and jellies can be an unfortunate occurrence and are often the result of using overripe fruit, fruit lacking the appropriate acidity, using the wrong amount of sugar, increasing the recipe, not bringing the product up to a full rolling boil, using old pectin or not enough pectin, or numerous other causes. Before remaking jellied products, let the jars of product sit in a cool place for 24 hours, as gelling can take time. When remaking soft jams and jellies, only work with 4 to 8 cups at a time. Working with larger quantities requires longer boiling times that can cause loss of flavor, darkening, and/or toughening of the jelly. Both canned (cooked) and freezer (uncooked) jams and jellies can be remade if the products are too soft. This publication outlines how to remake soft jams and jellies that were cooked using powdered pectin, liquid pectin, and no pectin. It also outlines how to remake freezer jams and jellies made with both powdered and liquid pectin.
Using Soft Jams and Jellies without Remaking
If you do not have the time to remake soft jams and jellies, do not despair! Sealed jars of soft jams and jellies can safely be consumed as a syrup or compote. Soft jams and jellies can be great toppings for pancakes, ice cream, and pastries, and make delicious additions to milk shakes and smoothies. Once opened, both canned and freezer jams and jellies, even those being used as syrup or compote, should be stored in the refrigerator, and will maintain high quality if used within one month. For safety, do not remake soft jams or jellies that were improperly processed or show signs of spoilage.
Remaking Cooked Jellies and Jams
Sterilizing Jars and Lids
All jams and jellies processed for less than 10 minutes need to be poured into clean, sterile jars.
This recommendation is the same when remaking soft jams and jellies. To sterilize jars, follow these steps:
- Wash jars and lids with warm water and soap.
- Place jars upright on a rack in a boiling water bath canner or other large saucepan.
- Fill the pan and jars with hot water to 1 inch above the top of the jars.
- Heat water to boiling and boil for 10 minutes for sea level to 1,000 feet of elevation. At higher elevations, boil 1 additional minute for each additional 1,000 feet of elevation.
- Keep the jars in the hot water until they are ready to be filled; this prevents jars from breaking when filled with hot product.
- Prepare lids and rings according to manufacturer recommendations.
To Remake Cooked, Soft Jellies without Added Pectin
- One quart (4 cups) soft jelly
- 2 Tbsp. bottled lemon juice
- Combine jelly and bottled lemon juice and heat to boiling for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Use one of the tests described below to determine jelly doneness: temperature test, spoon or sheet test, or freezer test. Continue to cook, as needed, until the gelling point is reached.
- When done, remove from heat, quickly skim off foam, and fill sterile jars to ¼-inch headspace. (Headspace is the distance between the bottom of the lid and the product in the jar.)