Friday, July 3, 2009

Canning Jam - Preventing Floating Fruit

Recently somebody asked me why the fruit in jam sometimes floats to the top, leaving only jelly at the bottom of the jar. At the time, the only answer that I could honestly give was, "I wish I knew the answer to that."

I just recently got a copy of 175 Best Jams, Jellies, Marmalades and Other Soft Spreads, by Linda J Amendt. It turns out that it had a section on the topic of, "Preventing floating fruit."

According to the author, the most common cause of floating fruit is fruit that was chopped rather than crushed. She says that chopped fruit contains air trapped in the cells, and it does not absorb sugar well. She reminds people to cut the fruit into small pieces and then gently crush them with a potato masher.

I have been guilty of just chopping fruit before. I have even seen recipes in cookbooks that just say to chop the fruit. This has usually been the times when my fruit ended up floating so it appears that that she knows what she is talking about. From now on, I will have to try modifying any recipe that calls for chopped fruit.

For making preserves (which have larger pieces of fruit than jam does) she says to cut the fruit up, mix it with some of the sugar, and then let it sit for a while before cooking it. She says this gives the fruit time to absorb sugar. Many of her recipes for preserves say to let it sit in sugar for 30 minutes, but some say to let it sit for 1 hour. The recipes seem to vary, based on the type of fruit.


  1. Thank you, Charlotte! Anna and I had wondered if that might be the case, but we just didn't have enough experience to understand why. You have been a grrrrrreat help!

    We have a new question for you for the future.....have you ever canned okra? Most people we know freeze it and add it to soups etc. later. Would there be any value in canning it verses freezing it?

    Leslie for both of us

  2. Charlotte, you are groovy! I love how you research the questions and share the knowledge. Groovy!!

  3. I do can okra, it is one of those topics that I have on my list to write about eventually. I just slice it and can it for soups. I can some of it with stewed tomatoes, for a nice heat and eat side dish, and I pickle some.

    While I can most everything, if you have a deep freeze with plenty of freezer space, then I would say that canning it does not offer any advantages over freezing.

  4. Thank you, Charlotte...we'll be watching for an upcoming post on okra.

    Anna has been garden sitting this week, and one of our rewards has been RASPBERRIES-all you can pick! So, we are making raspberry jam today--yum!

  5. I really have enjoyed reading and learning from your blog. I've left you an award on my food blog.

  6. I have an awesome recipe for crab apple hot pepper jelly, and *sometimes* the bits of pepper float to the top.... like tonight. Bummer. The recipe says to stir after set for 7 minutes to prevent floating... which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. Any thoughts about a jelly, as opposed to a jam, that has bits in it?

  7. I am afraid I don't know what to say to that one. sorry.

  8. Hello there! Just made my first batch of jam ever and ran into this problem, googled it, and found you. Thanks for the tip (I did mash mine but I think perhaps my masher is not fine enough for this job.. might need to get one that will allow me really mash those little berries up). Also, love your blog will be following as Im trying to get into canning more. thanks!

  9. thanks for the info :)

    The fruit float doesn't bother me in darker jams, but it really bothers me in light jams like apricot...I'll try your advice.

  10. Wow, am I thankful for your expertise and the time you take to share this. I didn't know this either and next time will make sure to undig that masher in my drawer of utensils and put it to use for a change!

    mama to 8
    one homemade and 7 adopted


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