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How did I mess up my canning experiment?

486 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Sasha_girl
Oh, I am so miffed. We have this amazing huge briar of black berries in the backyard, so I picked a huge amount of berries, and instead of stuffing them in my and dd's face, I made jam according to the Ball pectin instructions.

I opened it today and it's runny and so sweet that I am still in shock. Is is possible that that my berries are just much less tart than one would expect and didn't need so much sugar in the recipe? And will it set a bit better over the next couple weeks?

Thank goodness I only harvested about 1/4 of the bounty. It would have been a huge waste. I wish there was some way to fix those jars now....

Anyone have any advice?
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I'm sorry it didn't turn out right. I am getting ready to make jam from huckleberries we picked in our yard and I am worried about ruining it too.

It sounds like yours might make good pancake syrup.
maybe the ph(?) is off....which can lead to botulism......did you add lemon juice? I think you can dump it, add lemon juice and re can it......look on your pectin and see if there's a hot line number. I use Pomoma Pectin and it gels with a 1/4 of the sugar called for in conventional recipes, I like it much better.

Hope that helps some....I can't wait til my blackberries are ready.
Well, the good news is that if you used a ton of sugar there is little chance of it going bad (sugar is a natural preservative). Usually when I have problems with soft set stuff it is because it is a low sugar or no sugar recipie. I am guessing, since you say it is too sweet, that you used 6 C of berries to 7 C sugar, right? Don't mess with the recipes, if you want something with less sugar make sure you follow a less sugar recipe exactly, and buy a low sugar pectin (or if you want I can post a few low/no sugar recipes) but it will be a softer set, more like a spread than a jam. Chances are good that it did not set because you did not cook it long enough/hard enough. If the berries are very ripe, you are pretty much relying only on the added pectin to make it set up. I agree with surf mama, use it as syrup. That happened to me a few times when I was learning too, don't worry... berry syrup is awesome! HTH and good luck!!
Hmmmm - I think it called for 7 cups sugar for 5 cups mashed berries. I will have to look into the low sugar pectin. A friend mentioned that my berries are probably extra sweet since they are pretty much wild... The soft set doesn't bother me really, it's just the sweetness. I boiled it really hard for 10 min like they said. Though I am wondering if we are at enough of an elevation to need a couple extra minutes. And I'm guessing I can't, um, reboil them, right?

I would LOVE any recipes you could post! I am so thankful I still have enough berries left to make another batch.

I keep reminding myself that when I first started baking bread, I really sucked at it and now I can do it with my eyes closed. Perhaps it will be the same thing with canning

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According to my Ball Blue Book of Preserving, it can take up to two weeks for jam made with pectin to set. So maybe give it a little more time?

And yes, you can re-boil, though with most pectin-added recipes you only need to boil (full hard boil) for one minute. The book does say that boiling longer will give a firmer set. And lemon juice can help with setting up.

For a less sweet alternative, I've been cooking berries (blue, straw, black) with honey or raw sugar, about 1Tbs/cup of berries, until the mixture thickens a bit. It is enough sweetness to add the syrupy shine and flavor, but you taste the fruit, not just sweet. I put it in my jam jars and freeze it instead of canning. I have lots of freezer space and it is simpler for me.
Haha! I think I've got it now!

I just did another batch using Pomona Pectin and various jars.

The Pomona worked brilliantly. But I did discover that all the jars set perfectly except for the wide-mouth jars. I have no idea why that would be, but at least it took me just one screwed up batch to realize that tall narrow jars plus Pomona = excellent homemade jam.

Thanks everyone!
I tried making blackberry jam using my Ball Blue Book and it didn't turn out. I've had much better luck using the insert inside the pectin box.
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