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Why didn't my jam set??

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Ok, so I spent all morning ---------all.morning.----------making peach jam. Picking the peaches, (our tree is loaded), skinning them, squeezing lemons, chopping, boiling, jarring.....

And none of it set. Not one jar.

I followed the instructions on the pectin box exactly. I measured exactly. The last batch I threw in half an extra pouch of pectin and some extra lemon juice, out of desperation, but that didn't set either.

Ideas? Can I reboil it, add more lemon/pectin, and try again? I'm sure it will taste good, but it's really runny!

Ugh. I hate it when I give up a day to do something and it doesn't work out. And I haven't even made a dent into the number of peaches ready to preserve!

Or does anyone have a good recipe link for me to try out instead of the Certo instructions?
post #2 of 5
First of all, is the jam cold yet? It won't set until it's completely cold (room temp), which usually takes hours.

Second of all, using conventional pectin is a craps shoot, because it relies on a precise balance of sugar, acid and pectin to gel. That recipe in the box is just a general "estimate" so to speak, and it doesn't always work.

I have three suggestions:
1- label the jars you've already canned "peach syrup" and serve it over ice cream, pancakes, waffles, etc. Save yourself the hassle of reboiling it.
2- go out and buy Pomona's Universal Pectin and use that from now on. Stay away from the conventional stuff, which requires tons of sugar to begin with. You can make Pomona's with sugar to taste, or use honey or even fruit juice to sweeten it. My last few batches were made with rapadura or honey.
3- learn the jam gel test so you can tell BEFORE canning whether the jam will gel or not. This is really easy to do, and will save you a big headache.

Gel Test - Stick a small ceramic or glass dish in the freezer when you start the jam process. Doesn't have to be any bigger than a couple Tbs, but you want it frozen. When you think your jam is done, pull your dish out of the freezer and drip a couple drops (no more than 3) onto the frozen dish. Watch what it does. Does it form a skin and solidify? Jam's done. Does it run all over the dish? Not done. Something needs to be adjusted. Scrape the jam off (don't wash it off), and pop the dish back in the freezer.

With Pomona's, adjustment is pretty easy... add more pectin, or add more calcium water. Pick one (calcium is easier), let it boil a couple more minutes and test again. If after a couple tries, if nothing is changing, switch to pectin and try a bit more of that. Really, the worst that will happen is that you will either wind up with syrup, or a really firm jam. I have a couple batches that turned out pretty firm, like jello firm, they still taste great, they're just a bit clumpy coming out of the jar.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I feel better calling it peach syrup than failed jam.

I'll get some pomonas for the next batch - I imagine I'd get it at somewhere like Wholefoods?

What is calcium water? I've never heard of that.

Thanks!
post #4 of 5
Yeah, I get Pomona's at any HFS.

The ingredients and instructions for calcium water will be inside the box of Pomona's.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Great. Sending dh to Wholefoods today.
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