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thecuriousone

Spanish jam recipe didn't gel. Suggestions?

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Hi All-

I tried a recipe out of The good cook, James and Jellies over the weekend. It is a bitter orange, lemon and watermelon Jam. Actually its more like a marmalade. The recipe went together easily, but a curious thing happened while I was cooking it. The recipe said to add 3 cups of sugar for each 4 cups of fruit and simmer slowly for 1 hour. I did that but at the end of the hour, the consistency still seemed thin. My first though was to reduce it further. I pulled some out of the pot to taste and continued to reduce. I never did get to a really jelled consistency, however the taste started to change, it lost the fresh watermelon flavor and took on almost a "tea taste" like the sugars in the watermelon had carmelized. It doesnt taste bad but should I have taken another approach? I'm not familiar enough with sure gel to use it if its not called for in a recipe.

Any help would be appreciated. Its a beautiful jam, I would just like to maintain the fresh watermelon taste and have it thicker.

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How much watermelon? That's mostly water so if it's a fair amount percentage-wise, that might be the issue.

What about pectin? Did the recipe call for that?

At what temperature did you simmer?

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You should have enough natural pectin from the orange and lemon peels. You do need an acid, which would come from the lemons themselves...I've found with marmalade-type recipes that some things take quite a while to set up--after they have been canned/put in jars. Overcooking actually causes the pectin to break down, resulting in something that will never gel. You can use a thermometer to test for the gelling point: add 8 degrees to your boiling point for water (which is different at different altitudes. An instant-read thermometer should work.

Try the recipe again...it sounds really different!

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You should have enough natural pectin from the orange and lemon peels.  You do need an acid, which would come from the lemons themselves...I've found with marmalade-type recipes that some things take quite a while to set up--after they have been canned/put in jars.  Overcooking actually causes the pectin to break down, resulting in something that will never gel.  You can use a thermometer to test for the gelling point:  add 8 degrees to your boiling point for water (which is different at different altitudes.  An instant-read thermometer should work.

Try the recipe again...it sounds really different!

With a 3:4 ratio of sugar to fruit and using watermelon as a portion of the fruit I believe that there is not enough natural pectin in this recipe to produce a desired effect.

:smile:

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With a 3:4 ratio of sugar to fruit and using watermelon as a portion of the fruit I  believe that there is not enough natural pectin in this recipe to produce a desired effect.

:smile:

Hi there- Thanks so much for getting back to me. I went and pulled the recipe to make sure that I'm communicating the right info. (also, you should try it, its great!)

It comes from page 100 of the Good Cook, Preserving. The title is

Lemon Watermelon and Bitter orange jam

3 lemons, peels only, thinly pared into a julienne

1- 4lb watermelon quartered, fruit cubed and seeded

4-5 bitter oranges, peels of three and juice of all

3/4 cup water

sugar

Bring large pan of water to boil, add lemon and orange peels and boil for 15 minutes, drain. Put watermelon cubes in enameled pan with 3/4 cups water and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Add the blanched peels and the orange juice. Measure the mixture and add 3 cups of sugar for each 4 cups of fruit. Cook over very low heat untill cubes are transparent and syrup has reached jelling point, about 1 hr. put in jars and cover immediately. Process.

____________________________

If I were tio use sure gel, what would be the ra tio? Thanks again for all your help.

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Wow, I really can't see this recipe thickening without a significant reduction in liquid. With sure jell, ***I think*** the ratio is 1 1.75 box of Sure Jell per four cups of fruit.

***I came up with this ratio by going to the Sure Jell Web site and looking at some of their recipes. Most are for about 4 cups of fruit and one box of Sure Jell.

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For better canning karma, try making it while listening to the Dead's "Spanish Jam." You never know, dude. :raz:

[Click down the set list to spanish jam; the format accessed by clicking the column on the far right is Windows Media Player Friendlt].

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