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Jelly question - liquid or powder pectin...and can I use less sugar?

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I'm going to make jelly from pomegranate juice - I have found recipes calling for liquid pectin, and some for powder. Does anyone have a preference? I'm not working with whole fruit, just juice, if that makes a difference.

Also, I'm seeing juice (100% pure, no added sugar) to sugar rations of 4cups to 7.5...that seems like TOO MUCH SUGAR to me! Seems like it will just taste sweet, losing the fruit flavor. Think I can use less?

Thanks for any advice!

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  1. My understanding is that the sugar is the primary preservative in jelly, so you can end up with spoilage you are canning the jelly. If you plan to store the jelly in the fridge and use it sooner than later, this is probably not so much of a problem.

    I also think the sugar ratio has a great deal to do with the "set" of the jelly, so you might end up with something runnier than desired if you reduce the sugar too much. For this aspect of things, you may want to turn to one of the "no sugar" pectins (sure jel makes one). The recipes usually call for using half sugar, half splenda (or other fake sweetener) but I had good luck by following the recipe for the sugar measurement but leaving out the splenda. I don't know why they call it "no sugar" pectin then offer recipes calling for sugar...not even going to guess.

    1. I am not a Sure-Jel fan. I find it sure-doesn't. Certo liquid for me. As Lias13 says if you don't use the correct amount of sugar you may not get the jel-set you need. You could end up with syrup.

      1. I only have strawberry/blueberry jam experience but I would have to agree with the other posters: the sugar to juice/fruit ratio is pretty crucial to set-up and that ratio you posted doesn't seem at all unusual for jam/jellymaking.
        I also only use Certo and usually get good results.

        1. There's a reason jams and jellies are around 50% sugar - it's because natural pectin and the sort in Certo and SureJell won't set without it. You can get away with a little less sugar if you're willing to accept a looser result, but you can only go so far, and not very.

          Pomona's Pectin (available at health food-y and some specialty stores) works differently and can set with no sugar at all. The texture is a little different (not in a good way to my taste), but it's worth considering. Don't know the URL offhand, but they do have a website.

          1. Yup, follow the instructions on the amount of sugar. I learned from experience on this one-- a year of wonderful strawberry "compote" b/c it didn't set. I don't love the Sur-Jel either-- my jam this year is delicious and more jelled than in the past but still a bit loose and I followed the batch instructions to a T. I'm gonna try the certo this year.

            1. Thanks everyone for your great advice. This was my first time out the gate, and I did two batches two ways. First, per lisa13's suggestion, I used the powdered "no sugar" pectin, but added three cups of sugar to 4 cups juice and 2 tbls lemon juice. The pomegranate flavor is quite pronounced, it is not too sweet, it is really quite delicious, but it is a little loose. Not too loose to call it jelly, but I'm thinking about writing "gelee" on the label and letting people think I did it on purpose. I think this would be the looser result that MikeG mentioned...if it was any looser I would scrap it.

              Then I used a regular powdered pectin (Ball brand - same as the jars I got - handy at the store) with 5.5 cups sugar. The set is beautiful - this is jelly! It is very sweet, but it didn't drown out the fruit flavor, and really makes the other one seem insipid. I consider this batch a success, and thanks to those of you for warning me away from skimping on the sugar!

              1. That sounds delicious and I am going to try it soonest possible. One other word of advice that no one else mentioned is the oldfashioned way of making jelly was to boil it a long time and use a base of apple juice for the pectin content. Not that apple juice would be less sweet, and it does add its own, fairly faint flavor to strong juices, but apples and grapes too are very "jelling" on their own. Look in a really old edition of a standard cookbook, vintage depression /WWII (like me) for more instructions, or your State Agricultural Extension Office. But what you made sounds so yummy I will try. And how pretty for Christmas gifts!

                1. I've read that liquid pectin makes a clearer jelly, so I've always used that, though I've never done a side by side comparison to see how much difference there really is in clarity. I also find it easier to mix in.