Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pear Jelly Fiasco

We aren’t really big on pear jam so I decided to make some pear jelly. I did my research and discovered that when making pear jelly without pectin (which I prefer doing), it’s best if you use the core. It’s also best if you include the peels because it adds color and flavor to the juice. Simple! Just wash pears really well, cut off the stem and bottom part, and chunk them up! I boiled them in about 1 cup apple juice until tender. Then I mashed them and strained them (three times!). Got about 3 ½ cups of juice and I added a little apple juice to make it 4 cups. By the way, when making pear jelly, there’s a LOT of waste (won’t do it again!).

I put the juice in my large saucepan, completely forgetting that jelly foams terribly. I added my sugar (3/4 cup to one cup of juice) and lemon juice (1 ½ tablespoons to one cup of juice), stirred, and set the pan on to boil.

Let me say at this point that I had jars and lids boiling and I was also prepping pears for my pear butter at the same time. Multi-tasking when making jelly is NOT a great thing to do…

The pear mixture began to boil and very quickly outgrew the pan! So I had sticky pear stuff all over my stove and of course it was burning on the eye. Quickly, I carefully removed it from the stove and was able to pour it into my stock-pot sized pan. I cleaned the stove the best I could and put the much-larger pan on the eye. At least it wouldn’t boil over in this pan!

So, I would stir it every few minutes while working on my pear butter. When you use pectin, the cooking of jelly is just a few minutes. Without pectin, you have to cook it awhile. My second mistake was not using a thermometer. I’ve never used one when cooking jelly—I always look for the sheeting sign. So I would stir and hold the spoon up and every time it would pour off the spoon in a thin strand. Not ready.

I’m not sure how long I cooked it—probably 20-30 minutes or so (stirring every few minutes each time) but I began to smell something strange. I looked over at the jelly and realized it had turned from a pretty very light yellow color to a deep amber color. When I stirred it that time, it sheeted off the spoon—jelly’s ready! I began pouring the mixture into jars and sealing them. I let the spoon cool and tried to get the mixture off to taste. It was so hard—like a piece of hard candy!

So instead of pear jelly, I have burned pear jelly-candy…in jars. Yuck! I may even have to throw the jars away! It has taken a lot of soaking to get the thin film out of my glass measuring cup and off the spoon!

Lessons learned: No multi-tasking when making jelly, use an over-sized pan for the jelly, and use a thermometer!

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