I Love To Make Jelly
I think making jelly is fun. The fancy little jars with sweet colorful content have always pleased me like an artist after completely a masterpiece. Although it’s a long process in the making from gathering the fruit to preparing it for consumption I have always enjoyed making jelly. I also enjoy sharing the tasty sweet fruit preserves with my friends and family.
Oh, I know it would be just as cheap to buy the stuff already made. But what fun would be in that. In the fall, when the apples, plums, and berries are plentiful for the picking, I hate to see them not being used for something.
When I make my own jelly I often give a jar to a friend or family member which they are always happy to receive. Sometimes someone may even give me some fruit in return so I can make more jelly. One hand washes the other.
My grandmother always commented on how much she enjoyed my apple jelly as I added an element of surprise by adding a little cinnamon for a burst of flavor. That pleased me as she had been the one of great creative talent in our family. I am proud to think I may have inherited some of those genes.
Chokecherries make a very good jelly. That’s about the only thing they are good for other than feeding the wildlife and I bet they even would pucker to the taste of this sour fruit. I’ll bet most people have never had chokecherry jelly and may not even know that they are black when ripe. They start out green, then red, then black as they ripen in the sun.
Blackberries are very plentiful around this area so I have made a lot of blackberry jelly or jam. Not many fruits make a good jam. Blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are the only fruits I have found to make jam from. But they also make good jelly.
I guess one could make jelly out of most any kind of fruit. I have tried many of them and have had great success with most of them. Fresh fruit or frozen both make good jelly. I have made jelly out of canned fruit juice which turned out well. It depends mostly on what I have at the time to make the jelly from.
I use the instructions that come with the pectin I buy and have never followed any recipe from a cookbook when making jelly. Other than adding cinnamon to the apple jelly I pretty much follow it to a tee for fear of a catastrophe. I don’t recall seeing any recipes for jams and jellies in cookbooks unless there might be some in the real old ones which have instructions on preserving and canning.
When I make jelly I like to melt paraffin wax and add about a quarter of an inch to cover my jelly before screwing on the lid. I have had problems with jars coming unsealed in the past and that added layer of wax will protect it just in case.
I have had some total failures in my jelly making history. I found that all sugar is not created equal. Some are refined way too much so setting the jelly may be a big problem. If it won’t make good candy it most likely won’t work for jelly either. I’ve learn I must be careful how long I keep a package of pectin in my cupboard because there is a reason for those expiration dates. Some that’s out dated will work but not all of them. There is nothing more disappointing then putting a lot of work in to making jelly only to have it not set and be no more than syrup. I have had jelly set fine when I made it only to have it turn runny after a few months because the place I stored it was too warm. Not only did I waste my time but the price of the sugar, pectin, and fruit if I had to buy the fruit. I was lucky to have wise women like my mom and grandmother who had words of advice if I should ask what happened to my jelly. Trial and error from those that know has saved me more times than I can count.
I don’t always buy new jars when I make my jelly. Most any small jar with a lid will work for jelly. I save jars I have bought pickles or olives in as well as reusing the jelly jars. As long as they are washed and sterilized they are just as good as new. Besides I have to wash and sterilize the new ones too. The only thing wrong with saving these jars is storing them where they won’t get broke and having a storage space to put them. I’ve kept them in a closet when I had room but usually would have to store them in an outside storage shed along with my husband’s tools and such. I have had to reframe from saving very many of these jars for that reason. Sometimes the old saying (Waste not, want not.) may not apply to those with limited storage spaces.
If I plan to give jelly as a gift I like to cut a piece of pretty fabric and place it over the lid. I then tie a piece of brightly colored ribbon or yarn around the lid to hold the fabric in place. I also like to place a small label on each jar and write the kind of jelly on it as well as my name and the date I made the jelly. Sometimes for Christmas I may use a gift tag to put this information on. The fabric and ribbon would also be a holiday design. I think most people like getting pretty jars of jelly as a gift. At least my family members seem to like it very much.
Who would think that something as simple as making jelly could be rewarding to them or help them in giving a little bit of themselves to others. I truly believe that making jelly and sharing it with others has made that possible for me. Even the times my jelly didn’t set right it was still good served as syrup on pancakes.