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As I mentioned earlier last week I have spent a lot of hours in the past week putting up an abundance of summer fruit to enjoy during the winter months (and longer).  As promised, I’m going to post some of my processes here with how-to’s so you can try your hand at preserving some of summer’s delicious-ness too!

Making Jelly

Before picking this summer’s fruit my mom and I had last summer’s fruit juices in the freezer pleading to be made into jelly.  So, we did just that.  This year we picked apples and pears.  When we were finished making applesauce with the apples we took all the leftover cores and skins and boiled them down to make apple “juice” to make apple jelly with again this winter (the weather will be cooler and it will be better to heat the house with the cooking rather than fight with the air conditioner).  After the skins and cores were boiled we strained off the cores, skins, and any debris and put the juice into freezable containers.  This is a great way to use every last bit of goodness of the apples and literally have very little waste to put into the compost pile.   This year I used recycled jars again for canning my jelly.  By recycled I mean jars from store bought jellies, jams, pickles, relishes, etc.  Sometime store bought jellies and jams come in really pretty jars that are great for gift giving when filled with your own special homemade jams or jellies!

As a side note – Did you know you can also use apple jelly as a base to make things like mint jelly and pepper jelly too?

When making jelly or jam here are some tips:

  • Discard any bad spots (bruised pieces)
  • It is important to include some under-ripe fruit, but not green (especially when dealing with berries) for added pectin and acid.  The pectin is what makes the jelly “gel.”
  • Boil the fruit (skins and all) in just enough water to cover the fruit.
  • Cook fruit until soft – berries and grapes only need about 10 minutes but harder fruit like apples need 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Strain juice through a cheesecloth to remove all debris.

After you have made “juice” here’s what you do to make jelly using recycled jars (store bought jelly jars, pickle jars, etc) and paraffin:

Measure 4 cups of apple juice in to a large pot.  Add 3 cups of sugar.  Stir to dissolve sugar.  Place on high heat and boil rapidly to 220 degrees.  Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam.  Pour jelly immediately in hot jelly glasses.  I get my jelly jars hot by placing them in the dishwasher on a hot cycle just before making jelly and leaving the door closed until I’m ready to use them.  Leave a bout an inch or 1/2 inch from the top of the glass when filling the jars with jelly.  Cover the jelly with a 1/8 inch layer of hot (but not smoking) parrafin.  To assure a good seal, paraffin must touch all sides of the glass.  Prick any air bubbles that appear.  Allow jars to stand until paraffin hardens and jelly cools.  Cover glasses with metal lids and store in dry, dark, cool place.