Gel Tests for Jams and Jellies

It won’t be long until wild and/or tame fruits will be ready for jam and jelly making. One thing that some beginners or even seasoned home preservers have problems with is determining the gel or set of the cooked jam or jelly. Here are some methods that may be used to determine the set of your preserves.

  • Plate Method – Place a few small plates into the refrigerator or freezer before you start cooking your jam or jelly. When you think it has set, take a plate out, place a small amount of the jam or jelly onto the plate and return it to the fridge/freezer for 5 minutes. When retrieved, gently press your finger on the edge of the mixture. If it wrinkles, it’s ready to jar. If not, cook the mixture a couple of minutes longer and repeat the test on another plate.
  • Metal Spoon Method – Instead of a cold plate, use a cold metal spoon. When a cold spoon is dipped into the cooking mixture and held on its side shortly after starting to cook, the syrup will run off rapidly. Toward the end of the cooking process, the syrup will drip off more slowly as the mixture thickens. When the drops form together and ‘sheet’ off the cold spoon, the mixture has set.
  • Sugar Thermometer Method – If you are the type that requires more accuracy, try this method. Suspend a sugar thermometer in the cooking mixture. Be sure the thermometer is not set on the bottom of the pot as you want the temperature of the mixture, not the cooking pot. When read at eye level, the gel point is reached at 220 degrees F.
  • Wooden Spoon Method – When stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon and you think enough cooking time has elapsed, raise the spoon out of the mixture and hold it on its side above the pot. Run your finger horizontally across the spoon. Be careful, the mixture is hot! IWhen the gap in the mixture that your finger created stays open, the gel point has been reached.

Keep your fork


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