How to Make Fruit Jam, Jellies, Marmalade: A Starter Guide

Last Updated on November 2, 2020 by marvz

To put it simply, you can make fruit jam by boiling down any fruit extract to a spreadable consistency – a soft ball stage which is about 112-116°C or 85°Brix. Do tweaks through the process. Add sugar and adjust pH to meet the set standard.

The unit of measure °Brix means 1 gram sugar per 100 ml of aqueous solution. It’s pretty straightforward. The 85% sugar equates to 85°Brix at 25°C.

Make pineapple jam first

Pineapple is the easiest to start with. The probability of failure is minimal. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could fail. At rare ripe maturity, pineapple has enough pectin and acid to support gelatinization.

Make fruit jam without any additional ingredients

You heard it right! You don’t have to add water. Why add if it has to evaporate later. Adding sugar and tartaric acid could be skipped too.

The innate fruit sugar content is probably not enough. However, fibers and pectin are to the rescue. Rare ripe fruits have high pectin and fiber content. Pectin, fibers, and sugar working together could make the mixture thick enough.

Quality control among batches can be erratic. I hope, you won’t mind subtle changes. It’s healthier but might be off the standard. It’s alright. Just name it “pineapple spread.”

Selling fresh pineapples is probably better. Easy money for less cost and effort. Yet, you need a backup in case things didn’t go as planned.

Making jams, jellies and marmalades can make use of damaged fruits

Not all fruits are good quality. Insect damaged, broken, scarred, and too small command lower prices. You might not able to sell them at all.

High-quality fruits, no matter how careful the handler is, get damage during handling, transport, storage, and point of sale.

Make jam out of overripe fruits

After a few days, all unsold pineapples are perhaps overripe. They have low pectin content and have weak acidity. The two attributes diminish as the fruit ripens.

So the question. Can you still make jam out of overripe pineapples?

My answer is yes. Mix it with rare ripe pineapples for additional pectin or add pectin powder.

The same is true for other fruits such as overripe mangoes and guyabano. You can get a spreadable consistency even without adding anything. Even more so if you add extra sugar and pectin.

Time and temperature affect the color of jam, jellies and marmalades

Yellow pineapple is attractive. You want the jam to be as pleasing. Ironically, the result you got after is brown. It’s not totally bad, but not the product you imagined.

Well, it boils down to timing. Less cooking time, fewer color changes.

By leisurely stirring the juice mixture over a low-medium heated pan, you’re giving more time for browning reaction to occur.

The longer you cook, the darker it gets.

Thus, practice cooking over high but manageable heat. Burnt is worse than brown colored.

Choose the right cooking vessel to further lessen cooking time

Increase the surface area so water vapors can rapidly escape. Use the widest pan you can get. Not a tall cooking pot. Keep the solution to about two to three inches deep.

Cook the fruit jam to soft ball stage

Cook the jam to about 112-116 degrees °C. You need accuracy. A bit lower and your jam will be too thin. Expect some spill when spreading it to bread.

Higher temperature than 116 degrees °C results in hard jam. You might not be able to spread it. Not to mention you can’t scoop it out of the bottle.

Get a reliable thermometer to hit the target temperature and get a consistent result

Thermometer is handy. Repeatedly dipping stainless steel probe into hot liquid is convenient. At near endpoint temperature, leave the probe dipped and turn off the heat as soon as the target is reached.

If you refuse, there’s another way. Put a drop of mixture into clean water. If it holds its shape, you reached the “endpoint.” The jam is ready.

However, bear in mind, beyond “endpoint,” all the drops falling into water will hold its shape. To make things clear, you might test beyond limit. The jam you’re anticipating can be chewy, tough, or powdery.

If possible, get a digital thermometer. Dial type thermometers are not bad but the dial can be slow and hard to read.

Yet another endpoint test is by refractometer

Jam sugar concentration is about 85%, which can be read by  instrument of appropriate range.

Use either refractometer or thermometer to determine jam endpoint. However, a thermometer is budget-friendly. It’s less durable but easier to replace.

Water drop test might not work

Water drop test might not work if you’re working with overripe fruits. It’s inaccurate and becomes less reliable when working with overripe fruits without added pectin.

You’ll be able to attain the target values of 85% sugar and 12-116 degrees °C temperature. But the jam, jelly or marmalade won’t set.

Measure the pH and adjust as needed

Testing pH may not be important if you’re a casual maker. Cooking only in low volume whenever surplus fruits are available.

Yet, if you want to grow to a full-blown business, you have to have a decent pH meter. Measure pH every step and adjust as necessary.

Making fruit jelly is the next goal

To make jelly, you just need to get rid of unwanted fibers and you’re good to go. Proceed with jam making trick.

But, you have to be accurate this time. You have to have pectin powder in hand or use my all-time favorite, rare ripe pineapple.

Try overripe pineapple clear extract, without pectin powder, and you’re destined to fail.

Use the pulp for other recipes

You aimed for the jelly and rigorously filtered off the pulp. Where are you taking the fibers? Compost maybe? Not the idea I expected.

Using the pulp for other recipes is great. Like bread and cake. If you have no plan on using the filtered pulp. Then, you’re wasting a precious resource. Just go for the jam!

Fruits of the citrus family are more suited for jelly

You can extract citrus juice clean without much effort. On the contrary, the inclusion of pulp is the current trend.

“A fiber-rich juice for you!”

Players are printing the slogan on the label to uplift their products from artificial counterparts.

Make fruit marmalade and fours seasons

Marmalade is a jelly with fruit bits and thin peel slices for extra flavor and tang.

Fruit bits could be from other fruits, but peel slices are commonly from citrus. You may create a Ponkan Marmalade with Green Mango Bits or Calamansi Marmalade with Raisins.

Similarly, mix and match a variety of fruits to create more exciting products. Calamansi Pineapple Jelly, Mango Guyabano Jam, and Four Seasons Jam.

Imagination and availability of materials are the limits.

Coconut jam with chocolate. I used pure tablea as chocolate flavor.

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