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Jam won't set up!

Hi, I've attempted to make a few types of jams and jellies in the past few weeks. In every case, I've used pectin, and in every case, they just haven't set properly. The consistency ranged from completely watery to sort of slimy. I'm following the directions very precisely and just can't figure out what I'm doing wrong! I tried making blueberry/mango jam, pear/persimmon jam, and grape jelly. Any suggestions?

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  1. Are you using liquid or powdered pectin?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Candy

      Liquid pectin. I also tried powder once and it didn't work...

    2. The amount of sugar (real, pure cane sugar, no substitutions)is crucial in getting a good set, as is the ratio of fruit to pectin. What recipes are you following? The ones contained on the flyer in the Certo liquid pectin boxes are pretty foolproof.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Hungry Celeste

        I've actually been using the recipes on the insert and they still won't work! I am totally baffled, I haven't tried to improvise at all. Could it have something to do with the amount of time the fruit boils?

        1. re: thewaz

          Yes, absolutely the amount of boiling time is important. The Certo insert is pretty specific about the boiling time. The precise combination and amount/volume of fruits is also important.

        2. re: Hungry Celeste

          Celeste is right about 100% pure cane sugar. I am rabid about that. The bargain sugar is beet sugar I have long since discovered and proved it does not cook the same as 100% pure cane sugar. Sprinkle the cheap stuff on your cereal, make hummingbird food with it but don't try to use it iin cooking.

        3. I've had great luck with Ramona's Universal Pectin (I've seen it at Whole Foods). It sets up using calcium citrate(?) that you mix separately and add, rather than depending on sugar content.

          1. Because of the less-than-standard flavor combos you've listed (other than the grape), I'm wondering if you're taking a recipe for, say, blueberry jam and then adding the mango to it. So, I guess my question is whether you are using a recipe specifically written for that flavor combo or are you improvising? Can you explain exactly the process you're using? I know you said you've followed the directions precisely, but what are the directions you're following? The ones on the pectin package or a different recipe? I make jam for a living, so I know I could probably help you if you give me some more info.

            Also, check the expiration date on the pectin.

            3 Replies
            1. re: dukegirl

              Dukegirl - you sound experienced. I made mango jam with this recipe, but it didn't set - need to know what to do to get it to set.
              6 cups mangos, 2 cups water, 3 cups sugar, 1 tbsp vanilla extract
              comine mago & water and boil 15 minutes; the process in a food blender until smooth, retunr to pot, add sugar and vanilla, boil for 30 -40 minutes until thick, pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.

              I did so, but jam is runny. I also want mor fruit pieces, so thinking of retunring "jam" to the pot and
              1. - adding some more chopped but not pureed mango
              2. - adding proportionate amount of sugar [1/2 cup sugar for each cup mango]
              3. - boil againuntil thicker consistency.

              Should I also add some pectin??

              Thanks for your help!!

              1. re: dukegirl

                dukegirl i made apricot jam last night and the recipe is 6 cups sugar, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 8 cups apricots. add all together boil for 25 min. until thickens and pour into jars and process for 25 minutes. I did all that and my jam is not thick at all it didn't set. can I pour it back into a pot and reboil it and see if it thickens or not? THERE IS NO PECTIN IN THIS JAM

                1. re: wetpaws

                  Since I make jelly for a part time job, I cannot do all those batches without the pectin. I would have to quit my full time job. I like the no pectin jam, but for me it takes too much time to do. Some fruits take up to 2 weeks to set, marmalades, fruits with oranges, lemons, and citrus. So you need to wait the two weeks and see if the jams set up first. If you are going to do the fruit, and apricots have alot of pectin in them, you need to do the sheeting test or if you have a candy thermometer, it needs to get up to 220. The apricot will take a week or two to set.... worst case senario you can use it for sauces or top it on ice cream. My friend will take my liquid non set jellies and jams and use it as pancke syrups.

              2. To be a little blunter than dukegirl, there must be something you're not doing right. That commercial pectin stuff is nearly bulletproof if you really follow the directions to the letter. The jam or jelly may not be the greatest, but it should set up.