Lately, I’ve been busy jamming and jarring all kinds of things, including rhubarb, crab apple, ollalieberry, and organic, local, dry farm tomatoes. It’s really incredible what you can preserve! I’m planning on making lemon verbena jelly soon. This is my general recipe for jellying anything you can think of:
Yield- four 8 oz jars
- 4 pounds fruit, washed and halved or quartered if large
- 8 cups water
- 3 cups sugar
- 2-4 Tbsp pectin*
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice (optional)**
*Depending on the fruit you use, you may need more or less pectin. Berries have no pectin so you should add about 4 Tbsp, but tomatoes have some pectin so I found 2 Tbsp to be sufficient. Crab apples have enough natural pectin by themselves so it is not necessary to add any.
**You may or may not want lemon juice depending on the fruit you are using. I would add it to crab apple and tomato, but not rhubarb, ollalieberry, or lemon verbena. Cool a little jelly off and taste it before it’s done to decide if you would like it more sour or not.
In a large (8 quart) pot, bring the fruit and water to a boil, and cook slowly until fruit is mushy, 30-40 minutes. Stand a colander lined with a fine dishcloth or doubled cheesecloth over a bowl. Ladle fruit pulp into the cloth and stir, scrape, press, and wring until all the juice is out. Discard the dry pulp. Wash the pot, and then measure the juice back into it, adding water if necessary to make about 4 cups total.
Begin sterilizing jars, lids, and rings in a large pot. In a bowl, whisk together sugar and pectin until combined. Heat the juice to boiling and cook rapidly while stirring in the sugar mixture. The boiling surface of the liquid will become foamy as it approaches the correct temperature, 222°F. If white scum forms, skim it off with a slotted spoon. Once the liquid is at a thick, rolling boil and the temperature reached 222°F, take the pot off the heat and stir in the lemon juice, if using. You can always check if the jelly is ready by keeping a cold plate in the freezer and putting a spoonful of liquid on it every so often to check if it’s jelling up yet. If it stays runny even when it has cooled down, you know it needs to cook longer.
Once you are sure the jelly is ready, carefully remove the sterilized jars, fill them, and carefully put the sterilized lids on. Put all the filled jars back into the sterilizing pot full of water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes, let the water cool, and then remove the jars. You did it! Give yourself a pat on the back. Now you can eat your jelly on toast, with cheese and crackers, as glaze on meat or fruit tarts, in salad dressing, or just by the spoonful!