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Jelly is a kind of preserve made out of fruits or vegetables. The jelly is usually preserved in a can or tin which is then sealed off completely in order to protect it from the various contaminants in the air. It is stored and used over a long period of time and is a condiment eaten at breakfast generally. While a jelly recipe is thought to be sweet, it can be savory at times too.

The jelly looks clear and is set with the aid of pectin which occurs naturally in the fruits. Extra amounts of pectin are added artificially if the fruit in question does not contain the adequate amount required to set it according the jelly recipe. Grape jellies are prepared by using pectin from external sources for instance.

The procedure for making jelly is very similar to that of jam with the addition of a single step. The fruit pulp is completely filtered out with the aid of a jelly bag which is handled carefully during the straining process. Applying undue pressure during this filtration of fruit pulps may hamper the consistency of the jelly which is clear and sparkling. The mass of the jelly that is freshly prepared often quivers but does not liquefy when spooned out. The pectin required for making the preserve in accordance with the recipe can be extracted from the fruit itself by cooking the fruit until soft and then straining out the juice.

History of Jelly Recipes

The word jelly comes from the old Latin word ‘gelare’ which means to congeal. It was first used in the 14th century when the jelly recipe referred to the savory dish made out of the gelatinous parts of an animal body. The idea of jellies prepared by extracting the fruit juice and congealing them came much later, in the earlier years of the 19th century.

The Food and Drug Administration of USA laid down the standards of jelly making in 1940.

Ingredients Used in the Jelly Recipes

The principle ingredients that are required by the jelly recipe are:-

  • Pectin- A compound derived from protopectin which is present in the fruit that is yet to ripen fully or by cooking the fruit over a slow fire and extracting its juice. Ripened fruits usually contain lesser amounts of pectin which is the reason behind combining unripe fruits along with the ripened ones for making the jelly. Fruits that do not contain the required quantity of pectin are usually combined with other pectin rich fruits or the jelly recipe recommends using pectin available from commercial sources.

  • Fruit Flavor- The flavor of the jelly comes from the fruit juice. An artificial flavoring may also be added at times.

  • Acids- Fruits need to have a certain level of acidity in order to form the gel. Commercial pectin also contains organic acids which help the fruit to congeal thus forming the jelly.

  • Sugar- Cane sugar or beet sugar is usually used by the jelly recipe although some corn sugar and honey may be added to impart a particular flavor. Sugar provides the flavor and acidity apart from acting as a preservative when it is at 55% concentration.

Popular Jelly Recipes

There are two popular methods for the preparation of a jelly.

  • Long Boil -This is the standard procedure where the jelly is prepared by boiling the juice extracted from the whole fruit together with adequate amounts of sugar. Canned fruit juices are not suitable for jelly preparation as they do not contain pectin. This method produces a jelly that is rich in flavor and requires a thermometer as well as a jelly sheet to determine the formation of the jelly.

  • Pectin Added Method- Extracted fruit juice, sugar and pectin powder or liquid is boiled together which quickly gets converted into a gel. Canned fruit extracts can be added to this type of jelly which gives a larger yield than the former method.

Serving And Eating Jelly

Jellies are one of most important condiments during breakfast and used as spreads for bread and rolls. However, jellies can also be served and eaten in a variety of ways and usually imparts a fruity flavor to a relatively bland food item. The most popular ways of eating jellies are:-

  • As bread spreads
  • Combined with Peanut Butter.
  • Used in Puddings and Cakes.
  • Toppings for Cookies and Tarts.
  • Added to milk.
  • Served with Roasts.

Special Jelly Recipes

Most of the jellies are prepared from fruit extracts and treated with sugar which makes them sweet in taste. There are a few jellies which are not overtly sugary and are eaten with relish as well.

  • Mint Jelly- This jelly is made in the usual process with the addition of green color which transforms the natural orange hue to a bright green. The leaves and stems of the mint are strained out during the jelly making process. Lemon juice or vinegar is often added along with the green coloring which suppresses the sweet taste of the sugar. Additional pectin is also required to form the gel in a mint jelly. It is served with lamb roasts traditionally.

  • Jalapeno Jelly- This hot jelly is prepared by boiling jalapeno peppers along with green peppers and cider vinegar before being filtered with the aid of cheesecloth. Both salt as well as sugar is added to the jelly which requires a good amount of pectin to be stirred in as well.

Health Facts associated with Jelly Recipes

Jellies contain a lot of sugar and added flavors which make it high in calories. They are expected to be eaten in moderation and are best avoided by people who need to reduce their sugar intake. The vegetable gums and organic acid combinations that are available commercially for making jellies are low in sugar but needs to be refrigerated after the seal is opened.


  • A hypnotic drug, Temazepam, is colloquially known as jellies.
  • Petroleum gel, an ointment used to soothe cracked skin is also called Petroleum Jelly.