Making jelly can be a difficult endeavor, but understanding the process can make it much simpler. Before beginning, it is a good idea to research the process, particularly as it applies to different types of jelly. In addition, it is also important to understand how to use the cooking utensils that are required and to learn to identify fruits that are ready for canning. Food safety is also an issue, and as there are several methods of canning jelly, it is important to choose only those that have been proven safe.
According to experts, the safest methods for canning jelly involve sealing the canned jelly in heat until a safe temperature has been reached. This can typically be accomplished by using a canner or pressure cooker. Some recipes for canning jelly may call for a method called “open kettle,” which according to research may not be safe, as there are concerns that the containers and jelly are not receiving enough heat to destroy potentially lethal bacteria.
Before canning jelly, it is a good idea to read the user’s manual for the canner or pressure cooker being used. This is probably a good idea even if the user is familiar with the unit. Since these utensils are typically not used frequently, some people find themselves in the middle of a canning process only to discover that they do not remember an important step. If a re-reading is not required, it is probably still a good idea to keep the manual within easy reach throughout the canning process.
When canning jelly, sterilization is a two-part process, as jars and lids must be sterilized both before and after adding the jelly. The first sterilization can be done in boiling water, as long as the jars are well covered and submerged in the pot. When removing the empty jars after sterilization, they should be placed on a warm clean towel, as setting them up on a cold countertop could cause the glass to crack.
Nothing may be as important to successfully canning jelly as choosing the right fruit and knowing when those fruits are in season. If cost is a factor, plan to use fruits that are locally grown, as they will typically be less expensive as well as fresher. When selecting the fruit for canning, make sure that the pieces selected are ripe and full. Fruits that are not fully mature may cause the jelly to have a bitter or sour taste.