Mamta's Kitchen

Jelly/Jam From Fruits

Fruit Jelly/Jam

Suresh Chandra Gupta


Note from Mamta: This recipe comes from my late father's old food preservation diary. He had taken a diploma in preserving fruits, making jams, jellies, pickles and confectioneries in 1920's. He was a sugar chemist and technologist, later rising to the top job in India as the director of the National Sugar Institute of India, the largest teaching institution of its kind in Asia at the time. The recipes are written in his neat and precise handwriting. I use this recipe to make apple and plum jelly from surplus fruits from the garden each year. My sisters in India make apple and guava jellies. they make all their pickles using his recipes.

Fruits for jelly must have sufficient pectin*, as well as acid**, to yield a good jelly. Fruits rich in both are crab apples, acid varieties of apples, sour variety of black berries, citrus fruits, grape fruit, sour varieties of oranges, and plums. Sweet cherries, unripe figs, bananas, guavas, mulberries etc. are rich in pectin but poor in acid. Apricots (unripe) and most strawberries are rich in acid but poor in pectin. Peaches, pomegranate and ripe apricots are poor in both pectin and acid. The best fruits for jelly making are currants, crab apples and any sharp apples, blackberry, raspberry, plums and peaches (not ripe).


  • Fruit, just ripe. Neither over-ripe nor under-ripe fruit is suitable. A mixture of both is usually a good option.

  • A large pan. This stops the boiling hot liquid from splashing all over.

  • Sugar as specified in the instructions

  • Water, unless using soft fruit

  • Cooking thermometer, if available

  • Clean, screw top jars.

  • Methylated spirit, to test for pectin


  1. Wash, chop, core, de-seed or de-stone fruits, as applicable.

  2. Extracting the juice:

  3. Place fruit in a pan. Soft fruits like berries, grapes currants do not require water. For plums, apples, guavas, add just enough water to cover the fruit.

  4. Bring to boil and simmer on medium heat until fruit becomes soft. Stir/mash it from time to time to release the pectin. Do not overcook.

  5. Place the whole pulp in a 'Jelly Bag' or a large colander lined with a muslin type of cloth. Tie it at the top end, like a bag.

  6. Allow to drip into a bowl or a pan for 12 hours or longer. I do this by hanging the bag on a tap and leaving a pan underneath for the juice to drip into, overnight.

  7. Do not squeeze the bag to extract juice, otherwise your jelly will become cloudy.

  8. Now measure the juice and sugar as follows:

  9. In high pectin fruits* like apples, 1 kg. sugar to 1 litre juice

  10. In medium pectin fruits 1.5 kg. sugar to 1 litre juice

  11. Low pectin fruits will not make good jelly

  12. Making Jelly:

  13. Bring Juice/extract to boil, add sugar and dissolve. Continue boiling.

  14. Skim the top dirt off with a fine strainer. I use a wire tea strainer for it. adding a knob of butter reduces scum formation.

  15. Boil the juice quickly, slow and prolonged boiling will slowly convert the pectin into pectic acid** and it will not set.

  16. Setting point:

  17. Boil until a temperature of 221? F to 222? F (104?-105? C approximately) is reached. All thermometers are not accurate. Therefore, carry out other tests for setting point as well. Stop boiling as this is the setting point.

  18. ##Other ways to check setting point are: a) Allow the jelly to sheet from a wooden paddle or a large spoon. If it partly congeals and breaks from it in triangles, last triangle remaining suspended for 8-10 seconds, setting point is reached. b) Chill a couple of saucers in the freezer. Place one teaspoon of jelly on the saucer, allow it to cool for a minute and then part it with a finger. If it remains parted or skin crinkles, it is ready to set. c) Pick a little jelly on the tip of you index finger from the ladle, and stretch it between finger and thumb. If you get one wire pulling out, it is ready. Allow it to cool just a little before bottling.

  19. Bottling:

  20. Heat the clean jars on a tray in oven, take them out and place on a wooden/heat proof surface.

  21. Place a spoon in the jar (it stops it from cracking), and fill it with jelly. Fill all jars.

  22. Close screw top lid and turn the jar up-side-down. This creates a better seal and prevents mould formation-tip from Ian Hoar. Allow to cool.

  23. Label each jar, including date and store.


  • *Pectin test:

  • Place a spoonful of juice in a glass jar, add double the amount of methylated spirit from the side of the jar and shake very gently. A cloudy precipitate can be interpreted as follows: a) A big lump of gelatinous mass indicates rich pectin. b) If there are 2-3 small lumps that can not be kept together, the juice is mediocre in pectin. c) If no gelatinous pieces are formed, there are only flaky pieces, the juice is poor in pectin. If pectin content of your juice/extract is low, continue boiling to concentrate it. This is hardly ever necessary, unless you have added too much water in the beginning or you are using very ripe fruits or fruits that have low pectin.

  • Test again. You may need to add some high pectin fruits like apples or add commercial pectin when making jelly/jam from soft fruits, as they are usually poorer in pectin.

  • **Acidity:

  • Sufficient acid is required to render pectin soluble. Acid also helps to keep the jelly clear, remove the dirt and gives jelly a better colour. If you are using fruits with low acidity (see above), you can add lemon juice or citric acid or tartaric acid. Add lemon juice (8 tbs. per 2 kg fruit approximately).

  • Also see: A Quick Marmalade, Orange Marmalade, Seville (Bitter) Orange Ice Cream, Tim's Pressure Cooker Marmalade, Plum or Apple Jelly

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