Calling all jelly experts

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labradors's picture
labradors
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Calling all jelly experts

When I was in Honduras and had made a side trip to Guatemala, I found a coffee jelly/jam that I eventually used for a new recipe I developed. Now that I'm back in the States, I can't get that jelly any more, so I have been looking into making some myself. 

After looking at the ingredients of the jelly I had used originally, I tried THIS recipe for coffee jelly. Admittedly, since I didn't want to be to wasteful if it didn't turn out, I scaled the recipe to one quarter and made a test batch as a refrigerator jelly (since I don't have full canning equipment). 

The result was delicious, but even though it thickened SOMEwhat, it never did set completely, even after two weeks in the fridge. 

Here, then, are my questions:

  1. Do any of you have a tried-and-true recipe for coffee jelly? 
  2. Should the recipe at the above link work?
  3. Was it my making only 1/4 of the recipe that caused it to fail? 
  4. If the recipe, itself, is just that finicky, how could I tweak the ratios (more/less pectin? more/less sugar? some combination of adjustments?) to make it more reliable? 
  5. The ingredients of the original, purchased jelly also had lemon juice. The above recipe does not. Could a little lemon juice help? If so, how much? 
  6. When jelly doesn't set, is there any way to rescue it by re-cooking it with more pectin and/or sugar? 

Thanks!

Chris Klindt's picture
Chris Klindt
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Hi Labs,

The recipe looks sound.

You need acid to react with pectin. Coffee by itself may not be acid enough.. Try 1 tbsp of lemon juice or 1/4 tsp of citric acid in the mix.

Pectin products are not equal, you want something like SURE-JELL Original which has Citric Acid in the powder.

You can scale a batch like you did.

Think I will try making a coffee jelly, sounds good.

Chris

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Chris Klindt
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Hi Labs,

Recipe works. It is an extract jelly. You can make water jelly as a cruel gift. You would need water, pectin, sugar and acid.

I used SURE-JELL Original and 2 cups, a pint of coffee but added 1/4 tsp of citric acid granules which is about 5% acidity

I have never. reprocessed jam or jelly but your should be able to heat your jelly back, add the acid, boil for a minute and pour into heat proof jar.

Acid is what is missing.

I am slow anymore, hands don't work well.

Good LUCK.

Chris

labradors's picture
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Thanks, Chris. The recipe calls for 4 cups of coffee and Sure-Jell Original, but you used only 2. Did you scale the recipe and use only half a box of Sure-Jell? 

For my test batch, I had scaled down to 1 cup of coffee and 1/4 box of Sure-Jell. I did that for a couple of reasons. First, if it didn't work, I didn't want to waste as much coffee and Sure-Jell. Second, I used decaf, instant coffee and I'll probably want to use some brewed Guatemalan coffee for a full batch. Third, I don't have any of the Guatemalan coffee, yet, and was waiting to see if the test would work before getting it. 

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Chris Klindt
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HLabs,

Thanks, Chris. The recipe calls for 4 cups of coffee and Sure-Jell Original, but you used only 2. Did you scale the recipe and use only half a box of Sure-Jell?   ----- Yes I did, a full  bag of pectin is 49 g.

Figuring that the liquid was not very acidic (weak coffee), I added 1/4 tsp of citric acid granules as a safety net even though the package contains citric acid.

One other thing to check is that you are boiling and evaporating the water long enough (during the pectin add) to get close to the gelling point when the sugar is added. The sugar temperature will be below Soft Ball stage which is 235 F. You want about 220 F to 225 F. You can use the back of a spoon to test..

I think you will do fine on your next test run. Good Luck!

I scale most of my jelly recipes depending on how much product I have on hand.

Chris

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Hi Labs,

You might like this link which goes into more detail than I want to type http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/08/rustic-apricot-jam-recipe.html 

Chris

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Hi Labs,

http://extension.psu.edu/food/entrepreneurs/technology/jams-and-jellies/fruitjellies.pdf

https://www.extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/preserving/jams-jellies/making-jelly/ 

Just more for you reading enjoyment.

Notice why an extract needs more sugar to archive a certain BRIX unit. You could make BEER jelly if you wanted. I have used Frank's Hot Sauce to make pepper jelly.

I think the articles cover acid well and why I thought your coffee was low on acid.

Have fun!

Chris

labradors's picture
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Thanks. I'll check it out. 

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Tried again and it was only slightly thicker, so I looked around the web and found THESE instructions for fixing loose jelly and it worked.

Now,I'm almost out of the jelly I made and am ready to make more.

When you look at those instructions, do you think I could/should just start there (instead of using the original recipe), incorporate elements of those instructions into the original recipe or just make some other adjustments to the original recipe?

Thanks!

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Hi Labs,

Don't know where you live. I am going to guess at this point,I think that your brewing water is low in Calcium.

Calcium is required in cheese, yogurt and dill pickles as an example. In cucumber pickles, it is used to firm the natural pectin in the cucumber.

The easiest way to get calcium is with Calcium Chloride. Pickle Crisp Granules, at the grocery store, is Calcium Chloride. Dosage rate is 1/4 teaspoon per quart of product.

In cheese, with milk, has a dosage rate of 1/4 teaspoon per gallon but milk has calcium already.

In beer, calcium is used for darker ales and lagers whether natural or added.

Keep me up as to what you find, interesting.

Chris

 

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Thanks, Chris.

Since the "fix" instructions worked with the loose batch, do you think it would work to use the "low-sugar" pectin, instead of regular pectin, in the original recipe? I'd rather not have to add a chemical-sounding ingredient to my product labels if I don't have to.

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Chris Klindt
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Hi Labs,

I have never used low sugar pectin, no idea.

I can understand why you might not want to use Calcium Chloride but you never stated the water quality.

I would stay with the Sure Jell Original pectin that you are using. You have background knowledge with the product.

I feel that you are not boiling enough to concentrate your sugar or not adding enough sugar.

Are you doing a sheet test with a spoon (a rough measure of concentration)?

If you are going to make several batches of jelly for sale I would recommend you purchase a sugar refractometer. I will not recommend a brand of refractometer but to give an idea of what you want.. ATC (automatic temperature compensation), a built in light source (better than than trying to find enough light) and a scale range that includes 65 degrees BRIX. The closer to center scale for 65 degrees BRIX the better you will like it.

Making jelly is no different than brewing all grain beer, it is all about sugar concentration. You boil until an end point is achieved. 65 degrees BRIX is about 1.3 SG (specific gravity).

Hope this helps since you are close. Just concentrate. If you go to far all you will have is sugar crystals in your jelly which will be grainy.

Chris

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The cold-spoon test seemed to be okay, but the full batch turned out loose.

It's surprising how relatively inexpensive those refractometers are, but I wonder if those inexpensive ones are usable for jelly. The descriptions do mention jelly, but then the specs say that the ATC range goes up to 30C. Does that mean that it wouldn't really be usable with boiling (i.e. much higher than 30C) jelly? Maybe it's just because I don't know all the details about refractometers.

Chris Klindt's picture
Chris Klindt
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Hi Labs,

The 30 C is the temperature environment around the device.

It might be easier to start explaining how a tube weight hydrometer works. The sample liquid is water which has a specific gravity of 1.0 SG at 4 C (39 F). The manufacture knows what the SG of water is at 20 C (68 F) so they calibrate (slide the scale) to match the liquid temperature SG. On a piece of paper inside the hydrometer with the thermometer and SG scale is the calibration temperature. Once a water sample is taken for the liquid (assuming in range of the thermometer). This is temperature offset. Math is applied to the offset to figure corrected SG.. A slow process for hot liquids!

Enter in the ATC refractometer, it allows hot temperature liquid to be be measured in almost real time. The calibration at is generally a drop of distilled water at room temperature. The refractometer scale is adjusted to zero with a little screwdriver.

A drop of hot liquid is placed on the refractometer lens, a spreader glass is flipped over the hot liquid to form a fine film and a reading is taken. The ATC is a bimetal strip attached to the reflecting mirror and the mirror angle chances. The mass of the refractometer cools the drop quickly so the strip can sense the offset temperature.

BRIX is a converted scale from SG generally used for sugars. The refraction is a little different than water,

In jelly, 65 degrees BRIX is considered the end point. But depending on your preference, you could use an endpoint below or above 65 degrees BRIX. Just keep good notes.

A sheeting spoons kind of works but what is the temperature of the spoon, spoon size and volume of sugar mixture? 

Chris

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Okay. With a refractometer in hand, how can one tell if it truly has ATC. I'm in Florida, so the only time my ambient temperature would be 20C is if I were to step outside on a cool day. Not right now and never in my kitchen while making jelly.

 

Or won't the temperature matter if I calibrate to zero with distilled water in the same kitchen while cooking the jelly?

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Had to get the jelly done, so I gave it a try last night. When I followed the timing from the original recipe, the reading was 63 Brix, so I boiled it some more. It stayed at 63 for a little bit, but then it hit 68,so I stopped and jarred the jelly.

When I checked it this morning, it was very good. I would still like it a little firmer, but it is usable. Maybe, the next time, if I keep this refractometer, I'll take it to 70,instead. Before that, however, I'm going to look into whether this refractometer really has ATC or not, since the description on Amazon said that it did, but the unit I received is not labeled as such.

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When I was in Honduras and had made a side trip to Guatemala, I found a coffee jelly/jam that I eventually used for a new recipe I developed. Now that I'm back in the States, I can't get that jelly any more, so I have been looking into making some myself. 

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