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Currant Jelly: Fixing Thickening Problems

Currant Jelly: Fixing Thickening Problems

 

A visitor writes " I made some black currant jam yesterday, using a recipe online, that specifically stated pectin was not necessary (just black currants, sugar and water). I chose it b/c it is nice and simple. I actually started out with about 5 lbs of fresh currants and then cooked them to soften them up, mashed them up and then ran them through the foley mill to remove skins/seeds/stems. I figured we lost about half of the original 5 lbs that we started with. So I used 4 cups of sugar with the currants and went through a hard boil for 10 minutes. We are only at about 250 -300 ft above sea level, so I was not worried about adjusting for altitude. We ended up with 4.5 pints of jam. I used the cold plate test to see if it would set, and it looked like it was going too, but now about 20 hrs later, it has not set yet. It is very thick (like spaghetti sauce thick) but not set. Should I wait longer to see if it sets? I am wondering what the options are to cook again and try to get it to set...do I need to use more sugar ( I really don't want to b/c it tastes sweet already and very good) or should I add in some pectin ( and if so how much)? Any suggestions you might have would be appreciated! Thank You, Rhonda "

Answer

Jams and Jellies require 4 things, in the right amount, and at the right time and duration in order to fopr a set, gel, thicken, whatever you want to call it:

Acid, Sugar, Pectin, Heat

  1. Well, Currants are very acidic, so that's not the problem.  Currants are naturally high in pectin (https://www.pickyourown.org/pectin_levels_in_fruit.php ) .

  2. Sugar could be; recipes that don't use added pectin always use a massive amount of sugar to thicken it.

  3. The established pH charts say that currants are naturally high in pectin

  4. Heat could be the issue: you need to bring the mix to a full hard boil for 1 minute, not less… and not much longer.  After a couple of minutes at a hard boil, the heat starts to break down the pectin.

I would wait a day, and put one jar in the fridge. Check it then, without opening, by turning the jars upside down to see how it flows.  If it is thick enough in the fridge, that works. If you normally store your opened jars of jam outside of the fridge (not recommended) then you may want to re-make it to a thicker consistency, with added pectin.

 

Just see the directions on this page: http://www.pickyourown.org/how_to_fix_runny_jam.htm

 

On your next batch, use dry pectin, the no-sugar needed variety. See this page for examples and where to get it. http://pickyourown.org/pectin.htm 

Then use 1 and a half packages ( or 5 Tablespoons of bulk pectin)

 

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