What to do with fresh berries?
By Carol Ann Burtness
June 21, 2007
As the fresh berry season arrives, it's a great time to make those summertime flavors last with homemade jams and jellies. Here are some tips from University of Minnesota food science specialists:
- Choose ripe fruit that is free of bruises or mold. Whenever possible, use fresh fruit at room temperature to help dissolve the sugar.
- Wash berries thoroughly, but don't allow them to soak--this reduces nutritional value and contributes to a soft product.
- Do not reduce the amount of sugar. To get a good jellied product, it's important to have the right proportion of sugar, fruit, and pectin. Sugar contributes flavor, but it's also a preservative because it helps prevent the growth of microorganisms. Granulated white sugar is usually used because other sweetener flavors can overpower the fruit's natural flavor and sweetness.
- Process jellied products in a boiling water bath to prevent mold growth. This should be done for six minutes in pre-sterilized jars or 11 minutes in un-sterilized jars. The additional five minutes of processing can result in a weak gel, so it's best to use sterilized jars.
- Sterilize empty jars by standing them upright on a rack in a boiling water canner. Fill the jars and canner with clean water to a level one to two inches above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Keep jars in the water until they are ready to be filled. (You can save the hot water for processing filled jars.)
- Most homemade jams and jellies should keep their quality and flavor for up to one year if stored in a cool, dark, and dry place. Jellied products should be safe to eat if the jar seal remains unbroken and the product shows no visible signs of spoilage from molds or yeasts.
Carol Ann Burtness is a food science educator with University of Minnesota Extension.