Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Needles-n-Pins Stitcheries: How To Make Wild Cranberry Jelly

On my blog the other day I posted how to make wild cranberry jelly. I thought you would also like to read about how to do this. We pick our own wild cranberries in the fall and we make jelly and syrup out of them. Taste pretty good come January! :)

Now, this is just the way I make jelly. I have experimented and trial and error to get my process down. I am sure there are many other ways of doing this, but this is how we do it. 

Supplies you will need will be:

Cook pan
Lemon juice
Liquid fruit pectin
Jelly jars and lids
Small plate to test jelly. Put this in the freezer so it is cold when you test.

First you need to pick your berries. We have so many berries up here it is hard to get them all picked. These are the high-bush cranberries we picked. A lot of the jelly process is the same for all of the berries you might pick. A big part of the process is how much natural pectin the berries have and the ripeness of the berries which varies from year to year. Pectin is what makes the jelly jell. You will just have to test and see what works that year.
First step is to sterilize your jelly jars. I do this by putting them in a large pan of boiling water for 10 minutes or until I have all my other supplies set up and ready to go.

Then measure 4 cups of berries to 2 cups of water. Put on the stove and bring to a boil.
Cook for approximately 7 minutes or until the berries burst. This whole jelly making process is a two man job so you may need some help. Notice hubby is the "stirrer". :)

After you cook the berries you will need to put the cooked berries in a cheesecloth bag like this one. This is a stock picture since I forgot to take a picture of this step. :(  Once the berries are in the bag you will need to squeeze the berries to get the juice from the berries as that is what you need for the jelly. Now be careful with this step the berries are very hot! I usually hold the bag and hubby uses my "pinchers" as I call them. Don't know the official name, but the ones you can grab hot things with. :)  

After you squeeze the berries you will have just berry juice left. Next you will need to measure the juice and put it in the cook pan again. I do 1-1 ratio. I use 2 cups of juice to 2 cups of sugar. You will be able to experiment what works best for you. Bring the juice to a boil and add the sugar until it is dissolved.

Next add in 3 teaspoons of lemon juice to the pan and appx 1/2 package of liquid pectin to start with. Cook this appx 5 minutes. Now as the jelly cooks it will form a head on it so be careful that it doesn't over boil. If the color changes stop cooking immediately. You will need to test the jelly on the small plate to see how it is jelling. Take a little spoonful of the jelly and put it on the plate and turn the plate at an angle to have it run down the plate. If it seems like it is jelling ok and is slowly running down the plate it is good to go. If not, then add a little more pectin and another teaspoon of lemon juice.

Once jelly is jelling and ready to go pour into the sterilized jars. Let the jelly cool for awhile before you put the lids on. That way you can see if it is jelling also.

The hardest thing to gauge working with wild berries is the natural pectin and ripeness. Each year is different and each years growing conditions are different. One year they will be great and the next won't be. Over the years we have just worked with whatever the berries are for that year, but there is nothing better that having your own jelly in the middle of the winter. You can also make syrup from these berries which is another tutorial one of these days. Very good on pancakes!
Well I hope that wasn't too complicated. It is really pretty easy once you get your procedure down and know what you are doing...and yes....hubby and I say every year....."now how did we do this and that"! :)
Thanks for joining me and have a great week!
Colleen :)