Red Raspberry Preserves

This is about how I managed to salvage my raspberry jelly after mindlessly adding all the ingredients at once.

Does anyone else do this? I have preserved quite a lot of produce over the years. I am not new to the process. And I realize it is extremely important to measure and mix jams and jellies with careful attention to every last detail of instruction.

But there I stood over the kettle of raspberries, mechanically pouring in first the water then the sugar. As I added the last cup of sugar I was shaken out of my reverie. Somehow I knew I had made a grievous error. That sugar did not belong in the kettle just yet. Am I right?

I quickly scanned the recipe and my heart sank. I've had too many jelly making mess-ups, particularly with raspberry jelly, and I meant to be extra watchful this time. Yet here I was again...another year and another batch of liquid jelly. Please say it isn't so. I stared at the pot for awhile, wondering what to do. One thing for sure, there was no ladling that sugar back out again.

I'm blaming it on too many things vying for a spot in my brain at that precise moment.

But take a look at this...

Does that look like thin, runny jelly to you? Well, okay, maybe a photo won't tell the story. But I really was able to preserve my preserves and I'll tell you how I did it, just in case this ever happens to you!

As I mentioned earlier, after dumping the sugar right on top of the water and raspberries there was no scooping it back out. I decided to mix it and bring it to a boil, keep it boiling until the berries were soft, strain it as per instructions, then add fruit pectin to try to thicken it. It looked none too promising but I poured it into jars anyway and canned it using the water bath method.

I saw the jelly was still runny as ever but left the jars on the counter overnight. Meanwhile, I found a few ideas I could try in the morning if it still hadn't thickened. I knew from past experience that it probably would not get any thicker than what it was when poured into jars. In that case, I had red raspberry juice on my hands.

Fast forward to morning. You can imagine my delight when I picked up a jar and turned it sideways. Not a sign of flowing liquid. Just a thick gleaming jelly! Sweet Success!

Here is the recipe I used but failed to follow.


Red Raspberry Jelly

2 quarts berries
3 cups water

Wash berries, add water, and bring to boiling point. Cook until berries are soft. Remove from heat and strain through cloth bag. Do not squeeze bag if you want jelly that is clear and sparkling. Measure liquids and bring to boil. Gradually add same amount of sugar as liquid. Cook rapidly until jelly begins to thicken. Pour into jars. Boil lids, place on jars and tighten. Place jars in canner and cover with water. Process for 5-10 minutes.


The question is, how did I know how much sugar to add? It clearly says to add the sugar to the liquid after straining the berries. Again, too much on my mind! I got mixed up, saw 3 cups water and added 3 cups sugar. Equal amounts of sugar and liquid.

As the berry juice was straining (I had to use a colander because the cloth bag method failed too) I did a quick search online, and decided to try adding another thickener since I'd ruined the sugar method. I wondered if fruit pectin might work. I found a bag from who-knows-when hiding in the back of a drawer. It had no directions so I looked that up online too.

I had 6 cups liquid (raspberry, sugar, water mixture) so I needed 1/3 cup plus 1/2 of 1/3 cup of fruit pectin. What is that? Something like a 1/2 cup total, I think! After mixing the fruit pectin into the raspberry juice and bringing it to a boil, I boiled it for one minute and poured it into jars.

It worked! This mix of recipes was not about exact and precise and perfect amounts, not carried out as per instructions, but it delivered a sweet and delicious jelly. And that, after all, is what really matters when it comes to making raspberry preserves.

Just a little observation from my day's work...keep a bag of fruit pectin hidden away in a drawer during jelly-making season!