How to Repair Overcooked or Undercooked Jam – Canning Month

Filed in Canning and Preserving by on August 13, 2013 8 Comments

overcooked jamWe continue with Seed to Pantry Canning Month with a common problem. No matter how much jam we make, sooner or later we will all end up with a batch that is either overcooked (and ends up a sticky, gooey mess) or undercooked (great for syrup over pancakes, not so great on toast). Luckily both extremes can usually be remedied.

Undercooked Jam: There are a variety of reasons why old fashioned jams and preserves might not set. Since we don’t add pectin, the fruit acidity is very important. Some fruits are just not acid enough to ever set without pectin added (melons for example). But sometimes the fruit is just too ripe so the acid level is a little low. Sometimes the jam wasn’t cooked long enough to set. Cooking time fluctuates with the weather, so even if your raspberry jam last week cooked in 30 minutes, this week it may take 40 minutes or even 20 minutes. So here’s what to do:

  • Spoon all the undercooked jam into a large saucepot.
  • Add about 1 tsp lemon juice for each cup of jam.
  • Bring to a boil and cook until jam sets.
  • Remove from heat and pour into clean jars.
  • Seal and process in a water bath canner for 10 – 15 minutes.

Overcooked Jam: It’s is harder to salvage overcooked jam. If the jam tastes scorched it’s best just to throw it away and try again. If the jam isn’t scorched but is too thick to use as jam, slowly heat it in the microwave with a little added water and use it as syrup. I also have used overcooked jam in place of honey in homemade BBQ sauce, stir-fry sauce, or in the center of muffins. You could also melt overcooked jam in the microwave and brush it over pound cake or bar cookies.

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About the Author ()

Renee Pottle, an author and Home Economist, is fanatic about growing and preserving food for her family. She blogs at SeedToPantry.com, MotherEarthNews.com and HestiasKitchen.com.

Comments (8)

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  1. rose theoret says:

    make blackberry jam even removed the seeds lots of work , open a jar and it is extremely thick like glue what can i do I have 10 jars I was hoping to use them for Christmas presents but now I have no idea

  2. Baking says:

    So I made pear jam for the first time. It came out a light honey color beautiful and tasted delicious. The second batch I made came out a green almost green salsa looking and very gooey. What went wrong?

    • admin says:

      How frustrating! It could be one of three things; the pears weren’t ripe enough (this is probably what happened), the jam was cooked too quickly, or it was cooked too long. If it is beyond repair you could try making paste out of it. I would warm it up slowly, puree with an immersion blender, and follow the cooking directions from the apricot paste recipe https://www.seedtopantry.com/2016/07/12/how-to-make-apricot-paste/
      It may or may not work, but worth a try. Good luck.

  3. Lorna says:

    I overcooked the pectin… from SureJell and did exactly as instructions stated. However, they were wrong. So instead of cooking for 1 minute, it was put in at boiling then added sugar brought up to a boil and boiled for one minute. Wrote to SureJell, no communication back though. So, I decided to try this, I added about 3 cups of fruit to 7 jars of jam. boiled again for about 2 minutes and reprocessed. It’s a bit less jelled than it should be but it sure beats the glue like jam I had before.

    • admin says:

      Lorna, good work! Sometimes we just have to be creative. I seldom make jam/jelly using commercial pectin. This is mostly because it sets up too hard for my liking, and because commercial pectin doesn’t agree with my stomach. But, like you, I have not had very good luck with the process with commercial pectin.
      Renee

  4. Pat Crow says:

    Good advice, thanks for the tips. Made 30 low sugar Spiced Grape Preserves yesterday. A kind neighbor gave me two large buckets of Spanish Black grapes that he grows and harvests for wine. Had to wear rubber gloves the whole time because I had cut my finger 3 days ago and did not want any infection exposure to the fruit. Please caution canners about keeping everything clean and safe. Thanks, PC

    • admin says:

      Wow! That is a lot of preserves for one day. Sounds delicious. Great tip too Pat. Clean and safe is the way to go in the kitchen!

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