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I've been making jams and jellies for a while now. While I don't have this problem as much with marmalade, for some reason my jam usually separates when being jarred and canned. By separate, I mean the fruit all migrates to the top, leaving the bottom half just liquid (jelly-ish). Is there a reason this happens or something I can do to prevent it in the future. The taste is still good, but I was thinking it'd be nice if the fruit stayed consistent through-out the jam. :)

Edited for recipe and directions.

Basic jam recipe: 5-6 cups chopped fruit 4 cups sugar 1 pkg low sugar pectin 1/2 tsp butter

I reserve sugar and pectin per instructions on package (1/4 or 1/2 cup sugar - I can't remember) and set aside. Then I put the fruit, butter and remaining sugar in a pot to bring to a boil. I add the sugar/pectin mixture and boil (I think) for a minute. Then I put the jam into prepared jars and add a lid and a ring and process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Then I put the jars on a table to cool and set up.

This recipe is on the low sugar pectin instruction sheet. I just vary the types of fruit and sometimes the types of sugar (brown sugar, honey, etc. but always use 1/2 cane sugar).

  • 1
    Could you please edit your question to describe how you're preparing the jams? E.g., the recipe/steps you're performing. – derobert Apr 6 '15 at 15:23
  • Most likely your jam isn't as "set" as it needs to be. If you like a runnier jam, the only likely solution would be to chill the jars a bit before canning. – Mr. Mascaro Apr 6 '15 at 21:23
  • I have to disagree jbarker2160. The jam is the right consistency once it's finished processing and then cooling. It just doesn't have the even fruit distribution that mass-produced store bought jam does. Also, if I chill the jars before canning, that will only guarantee that they will break during the water bath. I'd be putting boiling jam into much colder jars and then putting those (already stressed jars) into very hot water and boiling the jars in the water. – Brooke Apr 7 '15 at 17:05
  • I make freezer jam with strawberries every year. This happens to every batch, even though it's not separated like that going in. Once the jelly/jam sets, the consistency is obviously different than going into the containers. When you open a jar or container, give it a good stir at that time, to even out the consistency. It tends to keep when mixed at that stage of the game. – PoloHoleSet Oct 5 '16 at 15:21
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I made apricot/jalapeno jam in August, and I had directions from an experienced jam maker. She said, after it starts to jell, remove the pan from heat, let it set a minute, then thoroughly stir before putting the jam into your jars for processing. Then the fruit doesn't float to the top. It worked quite well. I used liquid pectin for that batch, too, don't know if that was a factor as well.

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I would try rotating the jars, place them top up for 3-6 hours the turn them up-side-down for an additional 3-6 hours and repeat this process until the product settles. This I believe would work because once it is turned over, the products goes back to the top which is actually now the bottom.

Another option would be to vacuum seal the jars, which the pressure of the vacuum would counter act the buoyancy of the fruit or suspension of the liquid.

  • How will vacuum sealing affect buoyancy? I do not believe this is true. It might have a small effect on thickness of jam, by allowing some water to evaporate? – MarsJarsGuitars-n-Chars Mar 20 '18 at 18:10
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The key features I see from the extension links are

  • Cooking to a temperature (8 degrees F above boiling water) rather than for a set time.
  • 5 minutes extra stirring post-cooking, pre-packing.
  • Pack the jam in pre-sterilized jars and only process for 5 minutes rather than processing for 10 minutes (which allows using jars that are not pre-sterilized, but also increases the odds of fruit-float.)
  • The UW publication also mentiones precooking (without sugar) most fruits, and pretreating apricots, peaches and pears with sugar for quite a long time before cooking the jam.

http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/B2909.pdf

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/question-of-the-week/floating-fruit-jam

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