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Jelly set too hard

Jelly faceI had promised Margaret a jar of our Sloe and Bramley Jelly – great for adding to casseroles, brilliant with game. The sloey edge gives it more bite than a conventional jelly.

I gave her a large jar of our Apple Chilli Jelly instead. She looked flummoxed and examined the label.

I explained in one embarrassed word.

It was probably a mistake to ring my mother when I was making sloe and Bramley apple jelly. She likes to chat and muse about life. Usually I am quite good at multi tasking but making jelly needs 100% concentration. A few minutes after I put the phone to bed I discovered that I had created a jelly that could be made into cricket balls for the next England International match.

I was regretting the phone call during jelly making when Margaret remarked,
“But Fiona, you can turn it round.”
My antennae revolved with a click.
“Just make up more juice. Add it to the rubbery jelly. Heat it very gently, stirring from time to time until the jelly has combined with the juice. No Need to add sugar. Just proceed as usual, bring it to a rolling boil and test for set every couple of minutes.”

I did this and it worked! And the best news is that by adding a pint of sloe and Bramley juice and no more sugar means that the jelly is a lot less sweet. I will definitely cut down on the sugar for my next batch of sloe and Bramley jelly. If you are making this now, I reckon that you could cut the sugar in our recipe down by 20%.

Why not reduce your carbon footprint (sugar wise) and make our recipe?

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  1. Hi, i have been reading your website with great interest as have ventured into the sloe gin and vodka world for the first time this year with excellent, very tasty (if not a little dangerous!) results. I would now like to make some jam / jelly from the left over sloes, is it ok to use the ones which have been soaking in the liqure or do you have to use fresh? can i combine the ones from the gin and vodka or is it best to keep them separate? my feeling is there would be too many flavours going on. Any advice would be much apprectaited. Thanks.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kate(uk)

    Thanks for the tips. I usually put a little lemon juice in all my jellies as it seems to enhance the flavour. Zest in the simmering fruit and juice at the jelly making stage.

    I don’t use jam sugar or preserving sugar as I think that it gives the jelly an artificial taste. Loads of people I know use it all the time.

    Hi Joy,

    The 45 minute jelly was fine. Looking back there was probably too much water in the juice. As Kate(uk) advises, there are so many variables in jelly making. A few nights ago I made a small amount of quince jelly and it set in 5 minutes!

  3. Thank you to fn and Kate for helpful replies. I’ll try leaving the jelly (I did pot it up anyway) for a few days to see if it sets. If not, I’ll try boiling up again with some lemon juice as suggested; I was apprehensive about more boiling in case I overdid it. I thought if it hadn’t set after the first few minutes of rapid boiling, then it wouldn’t set at all and that more boiling might spoil the flavour? 45 mins sounds very extreme(fn)! Was it ok after that? Mine doesn’t even remotely resemble jelly, just thick syrupy consistency. Ho hum … if at first etc etc

  4. Sometimes I despair of jelly setting- lemon juice and plenty of boiling usually does the trick. It all depends on moisture- the water /juice you add and the amount in the fruit AND the ripeness of fruit- the riper the fruit, the less easy to get the jelly/jam to set. If I’m using ripe fruit I add either lemon or a sharp fruit- redcurrants very useful for this and fruit juice instead of water- to help the set. If in doubt also use jam sugar with pectin added.
    Lemon and Quince is lovely-especially if you add the zest as well as the juice, makes a really sharp,aromatic jelly.It can be a devil to get to set, but I’ve also found it takes time once in the jar and will set after a day or two sitting around, unlike some jams/jellies that set as soon as they cool, it is a bit wobbly, but seems to keep ( still got some jars from last year and they are fine).

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Joy,

    I reckon that a lot depends on how much water you added to the quinces in the first place. I made another batch of quince jelly this week and it set in three minutes! I do use lemon (zest in the simmering stage and juice in the jelly making phase).

    The boiling process removes the water in the juice. It might be an idea to add lemon juice to the unset jelly (half a lemon to 600ml of the original juice, before you added the sugar). I have made jelly that has taken 45 minutes to reach setting point!

  6. I, too, have been making quince jelly. Last week I made some – fine. This week, given some more quinces and it’s gone completely different, more like syrup. So I boiled it up again for another 5 min, tested, same again. Another five mins, but it just won’t set. I had the same experience with bramble jelly – just turned into thick syrup. I seem to have lost my knack!! Can anyone help please?

  7. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sara,

    I didn’t know that you could do this. I knew that you can reboil jelly that hasn’t set but I thought that jelly set too hard was irretrievable!

    Hi Kathyann,

    Poor you. I don’t answer the telephone when I’m making jam or jelly anymore.

    Hi Mildred,

    The cranberry jelly sounds delicious – what a great idea! Good luck with the damson jelly reboil!

  8. There were some ‘on offer’ Cranberries in tesco the other day, I added the same quantity in apples (collected from a neighbour’s tree in September) and now have 4 jars of yummy Cranberry Jelly!
    We have some over set (ie solid!) damson jelly – when I can get it out of the jar I will try bowling bouncers with it . . . . and then attempt a reboil as above!

  9. This is why its great to have blogging friends who can help you out in a crisis !I too answered the phone whilst making strawberry jam and the smell made me get off the phone all i was left with was a speckled red and black sticky mess and it took me forever to clean the pan .the phone can keep on ringing next time !!!!(meg’s mum’s muffins )

  10. farmingfriends

    What a great tip. Glad it turned out well in the end. I have enjoyed making apple jelly.
    Sara from farmingfriends

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