My years in the kitchen have taught me to have fun with the old standards. With 3 children, it was a sure thing that I had to put up lots of jelly and jam, so I found and worked out a few recipes for pleasure. These do not use standard fruits.
Many are eaten with meats, and all have proven to be excellent flea market and festival sellers. Always be sure your state allows you to sell home-canned foods. For sales purposes, I’ve used baby food jars collected from friends, sealed with wax, and topped by a pretty circle of fabric and a tie.
We will start with my personal favorite, good on any meat, but heaven on ham as a glaze.
- 3½ cups sugar
- ½ cup prepared horseradish
- ½ cup cider vinegar
- ½ cup liquid pectin
- Put first three ingredients in a large saucepan, stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and a full rolling boil is reached.
- Stir pectin in all at once and return to a rolling boil.
- Remove from heat, skim, pour at once into hot sterilized jars to within ½ inch of rim.
- Cover with 1/8 inch of paraffin or hot sterile lid. Makes 3 (8oz.) glasses.
- 3 cups strong sassafras tea
- 3½ cups sugar
- 1 box powdered pectin
- Mix tea and pectin. Over high heat, quickly bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Add sugar in 2 batches at once. Bring to a rolling boil, boil hard one minute, always stirring. Do the jelly test and cook until test succeeds.
- Pour into hot sterile jars to ½ inch from rim. Seal with paraffin or lid.
- 3 cups dandelion tea
- 1 pkg. powdered pectin
- 5½ cups sugar (or use 4 cups and boil longer after adding pectin)
- 1 Tbsp. orange extract may be added if desired.
Note: For dandelion jelly, gather 3 cups of fresh dandelion flowers, preferably with morning dew still clinging. Boil for 10 minutes in one quart of water. Strain through a damp jelly bag, saving 3 cups of tea. You can drink what’s leftover, it’s good.
- Combine tea and pectin in a large pan. Bring to boil over high heat until it can’t be stirred down.
- Add the sugar. Return to rolling boil. Boil one minute. Do a jelly test and continue boiling until reached. 3. Add extract, if desired, then pour into hot sterile jars, leaving ¼ inch headroom.
- Seal with wax or sterile lids. Makes 3 pints. T
The following is a favorite, both for the subtle flavor and the color that the roses give.
Rose Petal jelly
- 3 cups rose liquid
- 1 box powdered pectin
- 4 cups sugar
Note: Red roses are prettier but any color will do. And don’t overlook wild roses. Pick 4 cups of rose petals. Place on a screen to sun dry for 4 hours. Wash quickly in cold water to remove any dust, etc. Put in a pot with 3 cups of water, bruise petals a little to help release flavor and color. Bring to a boil, cover and let stand 15 minutes. Strain juice, you should have 3 cups.
- Combine liquid and pectin in a large pan.
- Bring to a full boil that cannot be stirred down.
- Add the sugar and return to a hard boil stirring for two minutes.
- Pour in sterile jars and seal with lids or paraffin.
Another old-time farmstead fruit is the crabapple. These small, tart cousins of the common table apples were often grown for making jelly and preserves. Any extra produce was used to feed the family hog. To make crabapple jelly, you will require the following.
- 3 lbs. crabapples (cut up)
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 4 cups water
- 1 pkg. Sure-Jell
- Put the cut-up crabapples into a pot, add the water and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until the fruit becomes soft.
- Put the fruit in a cloth bag and allow it to drain until you obtain about 4 cups of juice. Now, reheat the juice and bring to a boil.
- Next, add the Sure-Jell, mix well, and slowly stir in the sugar. Allow the mixture to boil for about 15 minutes, constantly stirring to prevent scorching.
- After 15 minutes, you can remove the mixture from heat and pour it into your jars. Attach the lids and allow to seal. You should have about 3 pints of crabapple jelly.
- 10 red corncobs
- 6 cups water
- 1 pkg. pectin
- 3 cups of sugar
- Break cobs, boil in water for 25 minutes. Strain, reserving 3 cups.
- Add pectin, bring to a full rolling boil. Add sugar and boil hard for two minutes or until the jelly test succeeds.
- Pour into hot sterile jars and seal with sterile lids or paraffin.
This has always sold well for me. I’ve also packed 10 corncobs in a ziplock bag along with the recipe.
To make the onion juice for the following recipe, mince two pounds of sweet onions. Add to 3 cups water, bring to boil for 5 minutes. Strain, reserve 3 cups. Add a little water, if needed.
- 3 cups onion juice
- 1 pkg. powdered pectin
- ¾ cup white vinegar
- 5½ cups sugar
- Combine onion juice, vinegar, and pectin in a large pan. Bring to a full boil while stirring.
- Add sugar return to boil while stirring. After two minutes, do the jelly test. When ready, pour in hot jars and seal with lids or paraffin.
Any canning book will give you basics on jelly-making, such as how to perform a jelly test, use clean ingredients, sterilize all jars and lids, and after filling jars, wipe the rims with hot water before sealing.
Unless I’m using small or large baby food jars, I use ½ pint or pint jars with rings and lids. These are processed in a water bath for five minutes after the water boils.
When using nonstandard jars, I paraffin seal. To do this, you wait until the jelly is cool. Carefully wipe any speck of jelly on the surface above the jelly.
Melt the paraffin over low heat in a small pan. Pour about an 1/8 inch layer on top of the jelly. Rotate the jar gently, so paraffin sticks to the side.
Wait two or three days, melt new paraffin, lay a clean string across the old layer so that it extends to the jar lip.
Now, with string in place, pour a new layer of paraffin, once again rotating to reach the sides. Even if I plan on keeping paraffined jelly for home use, I put a cover on it to keep out dust.
How to prevent Jam and Jelly from crystalizing
This can happen to anyone. You did everything right to make a great-tasting sweet spread, and later find out it’s formed hard clumps of sugar.
The sugar molecules, even when they are dissolved in liquid, as they are in sweet spreads, like to form into groups(also known as crystals). Consider the following suggestions for preventing crystallization from ruining your hard work.
Temperature and timing are crucial.
Add sugar slowly (while stirring) to a mixture that’s warm but not too hot and especially not boiling. Avoid dumping a bunch of sugar into a boiling pot.
Add the sugar little by little and continue to stir well, until you can see that all the sugar granules have dissolved. You can tell they’ve dissolved when you can no longer feel any sugar at the bottom of the pan when you stir it.
Make sure to measure sugar carefully.
I always recommend using a precisely tested recipe and measuring the sugar accurately. Once you’ve started cooking, keep the sides of the saucepan free of sugar crystals.
You will need to carefully scrape them away. In case you have undissolved grains of sugar on the saucepan’s sides, they may be “washed” into the sweet spread when you ladle it into jars, which can lead to crystallization later.
Don’t cook your mixture too slowly or for too long.
Cook the jelly at a boil and stir frequently. Make sure you remove it from the heat immediately when the gel point has been reached. Avoid making a rookie mistake and don’t be tempted to double or triple batches—this can lengthen the cooking process and create crystals.
Grape juice provides a challenge.
Extract the juice from the grapes, and allow the tartrate crystals that naturally occur in grape juice to settle by refrigerating the juice overnight. Strain it before making sweet spreads
Suggested resources for preppers: