Cooked Down Jelly
If the juice you are working with is high in pectin, such as apple and quince, use equal portions of sugar and juice. If there is less pectin you can reduce the sugar to as little as ½ cup per cup of juice, unless the fruit is very tart. Use the alcohol test to more accurately determine how much sugar to add. Put 1 tbsp of cooled juice in a clear glass, add 1 tbsp of grain alcohol and shake gently. The alcohol will combine with the pectin to form a blob. A large single blob indicates a high level of pectin, so use equal parts of sugar and juice. 2-3 smaller blobs requires less sugar, 2/3 –3/4 cup per cup of juice. If there are many small blobs use 1/2 cup sugar per cup of juice, unless the fruit is very tart. If you don’t see any blobs then there is no pectin in your juice. Mix your juice with a high pectin juice so you can make a jelly. You can also create your own blends of juice, then check for pectin content so you know how much sugar to add.
Making the jelly:
Measure the juice into a large enamel or stainless steel pan (avoid aluminum), no more than 4 cups per batch. Simmer the juice uncovered about 5 minutes. Skim off any foam that forms. Add the measured sugar (you can also use up to 1/2 honey, expect the jelly to take longer to cook and to make a softer jelly), stir it in well, and continue to simmer about 10 minutes. If you have a candy thermometer, when the temperature reaches 8 degrees above the boiling point in your area your jelly will be ready. If you don’t have a candy thermometer then start testing the juice. Place a small amount of the juice on a spoon and let it cool slightly, then pour it off the side of the spoon back into the pan. At first the drop is light and syrupy. As it thickens 2 large drops begin to form along the edge of the spoon. When the drops come together to form one, the “sheeting stage” has been reached, the jelly is done and ready to put in jars. Take off the heat right away, pour into hot dry jars, and seal. If you thought the jelly was ready and it is still syrupy after it has cooled, then put it back on the heat and cook a little longer. If the jelly comes out too stiff, there was too much pectin or you may have cooked it too long. If the jelly is tacky you overcooked it. By the way, if you follow the above steps but leave the fruit in, you get jam.