My jelly did not set up, what did I do wrong?
Has this ever happened to you? You’ve followed a recipe exactly and then after the jelly cooled; it looks like pretty colored syrup. It could be any number things and here are a few reasons why.
Some of the citrus or soft fruits take longer than others to set up. Occasionally, it can take up to two weeks for your jelly/jam/marmalade to set up. This is just the nature of the fruit and the science behind the gelling process.
Although I have never read it in a book, it has been my experience that if the weather that day is particularly humid or rainy, my jam will not set up and has to be reprocessed on a day that is clear, sunny, or at least not humid. I do not believe there is any scientific proof of this, but it has been my experience.
Another reason why your jam/jelly/marmalade may not have set up is because you did not keep the concoction at a boil for long enough, usually one full minute. This is why a kitchen clock with a sweep hand is vitally important. Even though you might get splattered with boiling hot product, you must keep stirring for the full 60 seconds. Put on a hot mit and keep stirring. It cannot burn and if you do not continue to stir it will scorch and burn, ruining your entire batch. There must be a rolling boil happening when you start the 1-minute count. As soon as it is over, you can turn off the stove and take your pot to another area of the kitchen to fill the jars.
Occasionally, you may get a bad packet of pectin or some other problem happens. If so, pop all the lids off and throw them away. Get new lids to use, pour all the jam/jelly/marmalade back into the pot and go at it again bringing it to a rolling boil for one full minute and process as usual. That should save your work!