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Jelly time!


One of my goals for the summer was to make jelly. Partly inspired by Ecuadorian households’ complete lack of processed foods and partly inspired by a childhood memory of getting sticky while making strawberry jelly, I just decided it had to happen. But in order to make jelly-making remotely economical, I had to go berry picking first (although I have since found out that jelly can be made using frozen fruit, which is significantly cheaper than fresh from the grocery store). So we went on a trip to Alstede Farms in Chester, NJ.

Beautiful but unripe blackberries

In addition to getting completely scratched up and stained, I found out that berry picking is actually really hard and requires a lot of patience.  The blackberries especially enjoyed hiding. So while carefully plucking three quarts of berries, I got extremely sunburnt, but it was worth it. I came home with my three quarts of berries, some beautiful eggplants, and several colors of tomatoes. Plus, I wolfed down an apple cider donut. Delicious.

Washing the raspberries

So on Monday morning after the great New Jersey adventure, I set about making raspberry-blackberry jelly. 

Mashing the berries to get the seeds out

The whole process took about two-and-a-half hours. The most time consuming part of making the jelly was picking through my now semi-mushed berries and finding the ones that had no signs of molding and then removing leaves and hulls and washing them. After that, it was just a matter of using some elbow grease to get the juices out. There are tools designed to help in this process, but I’m not quite ready to invest in turning my kitchen into a jam factory. I recommend having an extra set of hands around, particularly later in the process when the food needs to be canned as quickly as possible.

Cup of de-seeded raspberry juice

I followed the directions from the box of pectin–Low Sugar Sure Jell– and suggestions from PickYourOwn. Initially, I was completely opposed to using pectin–I wanted pure jelly. But then I read that pectin is really derived from apples and jelly made with pectin is in fact healthier (less cook time keeps in the fruits’ nutrients and less sugar is needed) and makes the process much faster. So I used the pectin.

Raspberry-Blackberry jelly!

I haven’t tried the jelly yet (the pectin says some jams take two weeks to set, but not which berries take that long, so I’m going to wait a week), but just looking at my jars, I think the process was worth it.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Chanel permalink
    09/17/2009 4:48 PM

    Dear Self: Do not read this blog when you are hungry. It will make you want to flee the office and roam the grocery store/farmer’s market unproductively. Thanks! Love, Chanel.

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