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This week I found myself with berries to make jam but for the first time in I can't remember I went to the cupboard and there wasn't any pectin on the shelf. I was in a small panic since for three years every time I would go to the store whether I needed it or not at that moment I would pick up a bottle of Ball pectin. 

I stood staring at the shelves, then moving things around to look in the way back, as I know many of you do also, but I came up short on a thickener for my jam. I pondered what else I could make and it hit me, to the right of the shelf, was just the thing I needed, Clear Jel. 

The jam turned out really perfect in texture, but there is one thing that I can not get over. There is a "mouth feel" that is silky like a pie filling. I don't mind it and in fact it I like how thick it spreads. You have to use sugar with Clear Jel to activate but I used a low sugar recipe and my husband agrees that the berry taste is really good. It's just the right amount of sweetness without any tartness.   

Using Clear Jel with jams I was also concerned about the oozing that you get with pie fillings. I did two batches, left the 1/4" headspace and had no problems with the jam even expanding. I was very careful to detail the exact way that I did this batch so that you could do it successfully as well. The jam that I made was a triple berry with orange juice.   

Triple Berry with OJ made with Clear Jel

4 cups Triple Berries - any combination of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc. (thaw completely if you are using frozen)
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup Clear Jel
1/3 cup sugar + 1 cup
2 T.  bottled lemon juice

Clear Jel is available at the SB Canning Store! 
Preparation: Prepare 6 half pints , lids, and rings. Sterilize the jars and keep them in the hot water till it’s time for processing. Make sure to fill your water bath canner and get the water to a simmer. 

Cooking:
  •  In a stainless steel saucepan, combine berries and orange juice. 
  •  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes longer. 
  • Add 1 cup of sugar and stir in for 5 minutes. With a spoon taste the mixture to see if it's sweet enough. Remember it will be hot so let it cool on the spoon for a minute. Many times the tarter berries may require a bit more sugar. If you add more sugar only add in 1/4 cup increments. Note: you are going to add 1/3 cup more sugar with the Clear Jel. (One cup was plenty for my berries since the orange juice added sweetness)
  • In a separate bowl add 1/3 cup of Clear Jel and 1/3 cup of sugar. Mix together the powders with a wire whisk. 
  • Using your ladle scoop out about 1/3 cup of the hot liquid from the pot. You can instead use an additional 1/3 cup of orange juice if you want a more orange flavor. 
  • Use the whisk to completely stir the mixture until it looks smooth like milk.  
  • Add 2T. of bottled lemon juice to the fruit in the pot and while stirring increase the heat under the pot to medium. 
  • Whisk in 1/3 cup orange juice
    Clear Jel and Sugar
  • Pour your Clear Jel mixture into the pot and stir for about a minute until the jam is thick. This will be like adding a thickener to make gravy. Turn off heat and remove pan from stove.  


This is the thickness
after one minute. It will
mound on the ladle. 
Filling the jars:  On a dishtowel place hot jars and ladle jam into hot jars to 1/4" headspace in the jar.  Remove air bubbles and adjust head-space , if necessary, by adding more jam. Wipe rim with clean cloth or paper-towel, center lid on jar, screw band down till resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

Processing: Make sure your rack is on the bottom of the canner and place the jars in the water bath making sure that the water covers each of the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add hot water to the canner if it doesn't measure up. Cover the pot and turn up the heat under the canner and wait for the water to start boiling. Once the water has come to a boil start your timer for 10 minutes. When complete turn off the heat and remove the cover and let the jars sit for another few minutes. Remove the jars and place them back on the dishtowel in a place that they will sit overnight to cool. Do not touch or move them till the next morning.

Sealing: Sometime in the next hour your jars will be making a "pinging" or "popping" noise. That is the glass cooling and the reaction of the lids being sucked into the jar for proper sealing. Some recipes may take overnight to seal. Check your lids and reprocess any jars that did not seal after waiting several hours.


Labeling:  
Make sure to label your jars after they have cooled with the name of the recipe and the date canned.  

Orchard Road Canning Jar
The jars that I used are from a new manufacturer call Orchard Road. The gentlemen that owns the company used to work for Jarden who makes the Ball jars and decided to create a jar that would hold up as well but with limited words on the jars to allow for "smooth" sides for labeling. He sent me some samples as I am considering selling them on my SB Canning store. I have found some pros and cons to these jars.

First, the jars are really much more solid than Ball jars. I love the weight of them and the logo is the perfect size to allow you to label them without crinkling the label paper on the sides of the jar. 

They are packaged in a box that has a lid closure. Yes they are completely covered in the box so they can be stack on top of each other. They come in 6 packs rather than 12 packs and they come without lids or rings already on the jars. So you need to consider that when pricing them. Most places have them for $4-4.50 for a six pack  of half pints plus another $2 per box for new lids and rings. They are designed to be used with Ball lids/rings as well so they are interchangeable. They come in pints, quarts, and as you can see the ones I used are half pints. 
The jars performed perfectly and all the lids that were provided in the separate box sealed nicely. The jars are a great alternative to Ball but the owner is only selling to online and small stores so their availability will be limited. Another issue is the cost of shipping. I looked into shipping and the cheapest, the half pints can go for about $7-10 for postage depending your location but once you get to quarts they get to about $10-12 postage for one box. If you can find them in your area and want a new jar for your collection these are a great! I also found them recently on Amazon, sold by the owner.
Beautiful Clear Jel Jam before water bath! 





Orchard Road half pint Jars

Up Close of the New Orchard Road


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