This happens to all of us at one point or another. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to fix jam or jelly that didn’t set.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Empty the Jars: Begin by carefully emptying the jelly from the jars back into a large pot.
- Prepare the Additional Pectin: Depending on the amount of jelly, measure the right amount of pectin (I use Sure Jel). Usually, for every 4 cups of jam or jelly, you’ll need an additional packet of pectin.
- Mix Pectin with Sugar: If the original recipe called for sugar, mix the additional pectin with a little bit of sugar before adding it to the jelly. This is to help avoid clumping. DON’T ADD IT YET!
- Reheat the Jelly: Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to prevent it sticking or burning.
- Now Add Pectin and Boil: Once your jam or jelly is boiling, add the pectin-sugar mixture and keep boiling for about 1 minute. Stir constantly to make sure the pectin is evenly distributed throughout your product.
- Test the Set: To test if it’s ready, you can either use the “spoon test” (dip a cold spoon into the mixture and seeing how it sets as it cools) or the “wrinkle test” (put a small amount of the jam or jelly on a cold plate and look for a wrinkly surface when you push it with your finger after it cools for a moment).
- Re-canning: If the product seems to be set as you like it, go ahead and remove it from the heat. Skim off any foam, and then ladle the jelly back into clean jars. Process in a water bath canner following the guidelines for your recipe.
- Patience!: Let the jars cool and set, ideally for 24 hours, without disturbing them.
- Check the Seal and Store: Once they’ve cooled, check the seals and store the jars in a cool, dark place.
This process should help improve the set of the jelly.
Make sure you also think about why it might not have set in the first place. It might be the ratio of sugar, pectin, and acid, or it could be that you had too short or too long of a cooking time, or the ingredients used might have been too ripe. Regardless, try to make a note — either a mental note or with your recipe card — so you can hopefully avoid a set failure in the future.