How to Win Blue Ribbons
With Your Very Own Homemade Jelly

Home canning
Mom's secret revealed at last!

Maybe you've been to the local County Fair, and thought to yourself, "I'd like to enter some token of proof that I know my way around a kitchen." Wish there was a way to save that fresh Summer taste of your favorite fruits? Ever wonder what it would be like to win a blue ribbon and amaze your admiring friends & family? Well wonder no more, as Mom has graciously agreed to share her best winning secrets. Besides, how many Ball Blue Book Awards does one little woman need? Here you'll find the tricks of the trade to Top Jellymaking. Of course, I'm assuming that you know the basics of canning in general, & jellymaking in particular. If not, you might want to check out the canning links below before you get started.

    Making Blue Ribbon Jelly
    1. Know what the judges will be looking for.
    2. Pick your recipe, then pick your fruit.
    3. Use a good Pectin.
      The box will give EXACT directions as to how long it should cook, and when to add sugar and pectin. Follow these instructions to the letter.

    4. So what's the big secret? How you prepare the juice.
      The first thing I do is reduce the amount of water called for in a recipe by at least 1/4 to 1/3. You'll have to watch the pot very carefully, and keep the heat on low so as not to scorch the pulp. Do not mash the fruit at any time, only gentle stirring is allowed. The idea is to have the most concentrated juice possible without getting it cloudy, which is what will happen if you mash the pulp. Cloudy jelly is fine for the table, but it doesn't stand a chance in competition.

    5.From slop to sublime...
      Once it's throughly cooked down, you should have a pot of sludgy fruit pulp. Use a colander to strain the juice from the fruit sludge. You don't need to be precise here, you just want the juice in another container so it will be easier to work with. Discard the pulp. Now we get exacting. You'll need an automatic drip coffee-maker, or more specifically: the pot, a coffee filter or paper towel, and the strainer basket. Balance the basket on top of the pot, insert a paper filter, and add about 1 cup of juice to strain. You might be tempted to try to run the juice through the coffee maker, in a word, don't. It gums it up, and leaves your next cup of coffee with a distinctive 'fruity' aftertaste.
      When the juice has stopped dripping, change the filter and add another cup of juice, Repeat until all the juice has been strained, transferring it to a larger pitcure if necessary. Now you'll need to do the whole thing again, coffee filters and all. Remember, the goal is to have jelly that absolutly glows when held to the light, and if it's a naturally light colored juice, {apple or peach for instance} then you should be able to read through it when it's all done. It is in the straining that those blue ribbons are made.

    6.The cooking is actually the easy part.
    7.Don't forget...
    That's it. You are now armed with the "trade secrets" of making Blue Ribbon jelly, and are ready to dazzle friends and family alike with your own "Canned Summer".

Short & Simple Blackberry Jelly. In a large pot...Add pectin to 3 1/2 cups juice. Bring to rolling boil. Add five cups of sugar. Bring to rolling boil again plus one minute. Skim off foam, fill jars. Close lids and tighten rings. Turn over after five minutes. Check seals after one hour.

Canning Info On-Line
The Kitchen Link
Canning for the Fair;
from the Illinois Cooperative Exrension Service
Canning Jars & Lids
Canning books to order

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