Canning 101: How To Save Runny Jam

jams for Barcamp Philly

A while back, I wrote a piece all about how to ensure that your jam sets. However, even when you keep all those tips in mind, there’s still a chance that you’ll wind up with a poor set. Here’s what you can do to salvage that jam.

If you don’t want to invest any additional work in that jam, all you have to do is change expectations. If it’s just sort of runny, call it preserves. If it’s totally sloshy, label it syrup and move on with your life.

However, if you’re committed to getting a nice, firm, jammy set, there is still hope. Here’s what you can do.

  1. First, you wait. Give the jam 24-48 hours to set up (because truly, sometimes it can take that long for pectin to reach the finished set).
  2. If it still hasn’t set, it’s time to open all the jars back up.
  3. Pour the jam into your widest pot.
  4. Set heat to high and begin to bring the jam to temperature.
  5. Whisk in one tablespoon of powdered pectin as it heats.
  6. Cook vigorously until jam appears visibly thickened. If it feels like it’s not thickening, add a more powdered pectin (start with an additional teaspoon and work up.
  7. Test set using plate or sheeting test (both described here).
  8. When jam has reached the desired thickness, remove pot from heat.
  9. Pour jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply brand new lids and screw on the same old bands.
  10. Process in a boiling water bath canner for the amount of time requested in the recipe.
  11. When processing time is up, remove jars from bath. Let jars cool and then test seals.

That’s it!

 

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313 Responses to Canning 101: How To Save Runny Jam

  1. 151
    Michelle says:

    So, this is bad, i made some hot pepper jelly a little over a month ago. It turned out runny but i had some family emergency to deal with…how long is too long to fix pepper jelly? Or do i have to settle for 6 jars of hot pepper sauce now?

    • 151.1
      Marisa says:

      You can still try to remake it. Jellies are tough, though. It might overset in the process of trying to fix it. I’d probably call it a glaze and tell people to drizzle it over things.

  2. 152
    Gail says:

    I did the step above with my wine jelly, twice and it still didn’t set. 🙁

  3. 153
    Dara says:

    I just made a beautiful batch of pear cranberry jam that didn’t set. The lids sealed, though, so it’s safe, right?

    • 153.1
      Marisa says:

      It’s perfectly safe! Set doesn’t play any role in safety, so even sloshy, your jam is perfectly edible.

      • Susana Smith says:

        I made blackcurrant and jostaberry jam yesterday (16 jars) as the fruit had been frozen but had started to defrost as the freezer setting had been accidentally changed. Plenty of lemon juice was added but I never use pectin as it is naturally occurring in blackcurrants. Not sure if the freezing altered the pectin level but after boiling the 3kgs of fruit with the sugar and lemon juice for at least 90 min, the resultant ‘jam’ is a couple of steps up from a syrup. Tried it on icecream as a topping and it was delicious, but too runny for toast as a jam. I don’t want to reprocess the contents of the jars. All the jars ‘popped’ so have good seals. Will this ‘sauce’ keep well in these jars on a pantry shelf indefinitely, like jam would, or will it form mould eventually due to its runny consistency? Thanks.

        • Marisa says:

          They jars are perfectly fine and will keep just as the jam would have. Consistency doesn’t play any role in shelf life.

  4. 154
    Donna says:

    Used liquid pectin, 12ouncesvblackberry juice, 7 cups sugar, 3 double packs of pectin, brought to a boil twice. Jelly still appears runny this morning, all sealed. Frustrated but I’m going to leave it a couple days to see if it’s just slow to set.

  5. 155
    Janine Ruiz says:

    I I made 5 batches of choke cherry jelly. I put 2 jars from two different batches and one of the jars in the fridge set up but none of the jars on the counter set up…. ??? It hasn’t been 24 hours yet so I will continue to hope but can’t figure it out.

  6. 156
    M’Shelle says:

    So if they changed the liquid pectin would you double the liquid pectin.

  7. 157
    Linda says:

    What amount pectin would you try for 1 pint jar?

  8. 158
    Mary says:

    Question – I made marmalade, it’s my first time, and it sooooo did not set. I haven’t waited 48 hours yet. I will. Here’s my two part question:

    1. I had processed the jars in a water bath canner before I realized I had a problem. I don’t have room in the fridge for my 13 jars of runny syrup – can I leave it out on the counter?

    2. Can I wait a full week to reprocess?? It’s kind of a big project and I don’t really have time to do it now. 🙁 I don’t want to get botulism, but in theory if the jars are sealed it might be ok?? I should add the caveat that I think one problem is that I may not have enough sugar. So it’s really watery. I boiled it a good 10-15 min and it wouldn’t go above 213.

  9. 159
    Gail says:

    After you put jelly in jars do you put it in a water bath to boil??

  10. 160
    Bernadette Gallegos says:

    My jalapeno jelly did not set I’m going to redo it. do I need to rewash the jars and resterilize them.

  11. 161
    Marie says:

    I made some jelly and it didn’t jell overnight and I was wondering if 1 1/2 boxes of surejell wasn’t enough for my 10cups of juice and 11cups of sugar. Can u tell me how to fix my jelly please

  12. 162
    Beth says:

    It sounds like you just didn’t boil it long enough to reach a temperature needed to allow it to set. You can rework it to get it to the correct consistency.

  13. 163
    Jess says:

    I made two batches of dandelion jelly and one did not set, even after giving it a week. Looked all over for help on getting it to set and found your post and immediately tried it. I think the second batch didn’t set because I used a tall, narrower pot. Your fix worked like magic. Thanks so much!

  14. 164
    Bug says:

    This is my third batch of strawberry jame and the only one that didn’t set. I used 6 cups of strawberry purée instead of 5 cups (I didn’t want to waste them) is this why it didn’t set? Can I do the thing where I add it all back in and add more pectin?

    • 164.1
      Marisa says:

      Adding more fruit could definitely the be the cause.

      • Stacy Patterson says:

        Is there any way to fix it if mine is done but runny because I used too many strawberries?

        • Marisa says:

          If you used more strawberries than the recipe suggested, you can open up all the jars and cook it down some more. Or you can embrace it as it is and call it strawberry sauce.

  15. 165
    Pam Stine says:

    Okay, I made a lot (about 40 8oz jars) of strawberry jam using liquid pectin (Certo). I doubled the first batch, but the rest of the batches were about 6 cups each (of fruit). None of the jam set properly. I set some aside to use as syrup, and reprocessed following the directions on another website. I did not add more sugar, as I was using liquid pectin, but I did add lemon juice. After about 72 hours, it still did not set. Can I reprocess a third time, and use powdered pectin? Do I have to add more sugar? Or can I just pour the jars into the pot and boil the jam longer? Please help!!

  16. 166
    Jana says:

    On May 31 I made strawberry jam and used liquid pectin (Certo). I wasn’t careful and realized that I had twice the amount of fruit and sugar than the recipe for 1 package of liquid Certo called for. To save the jam … After I dump all the fluid back into a pot — Do I add 1 teaspoon at a time until it thickens or do I add the 2 packages of liquid pectin that the recipe called for?
    After 24 hours the jam has not set and the test product in the fridge is firmer, but still not set.

    • 166.1
      Marisa says:

      If you used double the fruit, you need to use double the pectin. I’d just add in the total amount needed and boil until you see signs of thickening.

  17. 167
    Trudy Hoffmann says:

    When I made Apple jelly, it gelled on the spoon and the pan, but it did not set in the jars, I had a smidge left over and put in fridge, still syrup.

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