The Ultimate Guide to Jelly

A thick shmear of jelly is one of the delectable pleasures that complete breakfast and snacks. It is perfect for adding on toast, especially when making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Jelly may have different definitions, depending on the country where you are located. 

Traditionally, jelly is prepared using gelatin. In North America, jelly is a transparent fruit spread made from the sweetened juice of fruit or vegetable. Outside North America, jelly is more known as a gelatin-based dessert.

Jelly comes in different brands and flavors. However, most conventional jellies that you can find in stores are filled with preservatives, stabilizers, and excessive sugars. Research shows that the best jellies should contain fruit, sugar, and pectin. They should fit your macronutrient needs, and they have to be non-GMO. You might even get jams and preserves instead of jellies. 

Origin of Fruit Spread (Jelly)

While it remains a mystery how fruit started as a spread, however, it became famous that certain foods were dried in the sun by ancient civilizations to store them for later use. One of the earliest records of fruit-spread-making dates back to the Crusades when Crusader soldiers brought the process home from their trips to the Middle East. Until the 19th century, food preservation was a homemade industry. Millions of people still prepare fruit preserves in their houses today.

The method is the same whether done in a modern food processing facility or a kitchen at home. Fruits are diced, boiled, and combined with pectin and sugar to create a gel. After that, the jam or jelly is placed in sterile jars. Jams and jellies products came from various fruits, either using one variety or in combination. Adding sugar or high fructose corn syrup to the fruit to sweeten it became a widespread fruit or vegetable preservation process. 

Things to Consider When Buying Jellies

Choosing the best jelly that would suit your planned meal can become a handy task, especially if you encounter many options. Let this article guide you in selecting the best jelly for you.

The Difference Between Jam, Preserves, and Jellies

Preserves, jams, and jelly are frequently used interchangeably. However, did you realize that they differ slightly from one another? Jams and preserves use intact fruit chunks, whereas jelly starts with fruit juice. As a result, jams and preserves typically include more fiber and nutrients than jellies. Jams and preserves, however, can potentially contain too much sugar and artificial additives.

Both are created by smashing fruit and heating it with sugar and acid (if necessary). However, jelly requires some different stages in contrast to jam, which is heated until it sets. For the traditional jelly-making process, the mixture is put in a jelly bag over a basin to drain. It’s better to let the juice strain without squeezing or stirring to avoid hazy jelly. This previously-strained fruit juice is then boiled once again, frequently with pectin added, to create a transparent, glossy-gelled liquid that slightly quivers when pressed.

Avoid Jellies with Additives and Stabilizers Besides Pectin

When buying jelly, you should check the ingredient list. It should contain fruit and sugar and not much else. One of the things that should be included in your jelly is pectin. This is a type of fiber naturally found in all fruits that acts as a gelling agent. Fruits such as apples, cranberries, and lemons are high in pectin. Therefore, they may not need additional pectin when turning them into jellies.

However, other fruits may require additional pectin. The best jelly should only contain pectin as a gelling agent. Therefore, you should avoid choosing jellies that contain other stabilizers, additives, and gummies.

Do Not Go for Those with Added Sugars

Jelly naturally needs sugar to give it a smooth, jelly-like texture. However, this does not mean that the jelly should be saturated with sugar. Jellies with lesser sugar content are available in the market. Therefore, when looking at the nutritional label per serving, search for a jelly containing less than 8 grams of added sugar.

Be careful in choosing jelly because some jellies have lower sugar content but are added with artificial sweeteners. Thus, checking the label ingredients to see what kind of sweeteners are added to the jelly, especially because some people are allergic or sensitive to artificial sweeteners like stevia or erythritol.

Try to Look for Certifications

We also recommend choosing products with the official non-GMO or organic seal. Because fruits are often produced with GMOs and pesticides, avoiding risky contaminations by checking is better. If you have any allergies or sensitivities, you must also look for certifications that meet your needs.

How to Make Your Homemade Jelly (Peach Jelly)

Peach jelly is a simple jelly that preserves the deliciousness of summer peaches. Peaches usually become available in the market for a few months, but peach jelly is a great treat to enjoy all year round. For this recipe, use the interior flesh instead of the peach peels for a better result. 

Ingredients

  • peeled peach flesh (3 medium peaches)
  • ½ cup of water 
  • ½ cup of lemon juice
  • 5 cups of granulated sugar
  • one packet of pectin.

Steps

  1. Place the peeled peach flesh in a large steel saucepan. 
  2. Add ½ cup of water for each fresh peach. Pour just enough water to cover the peeled peaches fully.
  3. Boil the mixture over high heat and then reduce to a low simmer.
  4. Cook for about 20-30 minutes until all flesh peaches are thoroughly softened. 
  5. Mash the flesh occasionally with a spoon to release the juices.
  6. Strain the mixture and place it in a jelly bag. You may also use layers of dampened cheesecloth or scoop and pour the mixture into a container. 
  7. Measure the peach juice in batches. One batch is three cups of strained peach juice. 
  8. For every three cups, add ½ cup lemon juice, 5 cups granulated sugar, and one packet of pectin.
  9. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Skim if needed. 
  10. Pour the jelly into canning jars with ¼ inch head space for a few minutes until it cools down.

Best Jellies for Healthier Options

1. Concord Grape Jelly

This jelly combines the juice of organically grown concord grapes, organic cane sugar, and natural fruit pectin, making it a sweet delight. Grape Jelly is made from concord grape juice, fruit pectin, citric acid, sodium citrate, and organic cane sugar; Other varieties include ascorbic acid (vitamin C) for healthier purposes. You can spread it on almost anything, from bagels and bread to crackers and toast.

2. All-Natural Coffee Jelly

Coffee jelly is a nutritious snack or delicious dessert that everyone will love. If you are looking for a unique jelly flavor that is perfect for breakfast, then this coffee jelly is ideal. It is an all-natural, gluten-free, and fat-free jelly handmade in small batches. It offers an excellent and healthy alternative to your usual coffee routine. Add your favorite syrup, drink, and toppings to match any occasion.

3. Red Pepper Jelly

 Pepper jelly is a pectin or vinegar-based jam made from paprika, sugar, and salt. It is a perfect blend of bright, flavorful sweet red peppers, sugar, and cayenne pepper. It is ideal for snacks, and appetizers, serve with cream cheese and crackers. A dollop of Red Pepper Jelly will surely add exciting flavor to the table. It is also a great addition to burgers, and you can also use it as a tangy sandwich spread.

4. Red Currant Jelly

This jelly is made from the juice of cooked, high-quality fruit. It is gluten-free, made in a nut-free factory, and suitable for vegetarians. It is usually made from fruit, sugar, and water. It doesn’t require the addition of store-bought pectin because currants naturally have the perfect combination of pectin and acid, making for excellent gels and textures without the need for added stabilizers. It is ideal for spreading on toast and bread and is also a great condiment and ingredient for some sauces and glazes.

5. Pomegranate Pepper Jelly

This jelly is a perfect blend of pomegranate juice and the warmth of jalapeño and habanero peppers. It is best paired with brie, goat cheese, cream cheese, and crackers. The common ingredients in making this jelly include pomegranate juice, sugar, jalapeño peppers, habanero chilies, pectin, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice.

6. Elderberry Jelly

It is a New England classic jelly made with the freshest all-natural ingredients. A perfect choice of spread for toast, sandwiches, and crackers, everyone will enjoy adding this mixture of flavor. Elderberries contain antioxidants and are believed by many to soothe colds, fight the flu, and boost the immune system.

Conclusion

The juices of most fruits, berries and many types of fruits are suitable for processing into jelly. Jelly differs from preserves and jams primarily because of the exclusion of whole fruit or fruit pulp. Since it is a relatively simple process of making jelly, plus its nutritional benefits, adding jelly to your table will be a good choice. 

Some of the best jellies that we can recommend are listed above. These can surely make your morning or snack time enjoyable and more flavorful.