How to Test Homemade Jellies for the Gel Point - A Step By Step Guide

Apricot jam
GMVozd / Getty Images
  • 01 of 07

    How to Test Homemade Jelly for the Gel Point - A Step-By-Step Guide

    Prickly pear jelly. Leda Meredith

    How do you know when your pot of boiling, liquid jelly has reached the point where it will jell once it has cooled? Get it right, and you've got delicious preserves for your family or beautiful homemade gifts. Get it wrong, and you'll end up with either syrup or candy.

    In theory, you can use a candy thermometer. When the jelly's temperature reaches 220F (at sea level), it should be done. In practice, I've found this to be the least reliable way to be sure that my jelly is ready.

    Fortunately, there...MORE are other methods for testing jelly. Descriptions of how to do a jelly "sheet test," "spoon test," or "wrinkle test" can seem mysterious if you don't know exactly what you're looking for. Let's demystify those methods so that you can make jelly with confidence.

    Continue to 2 of 7 below.
  • 02 of 07

    The Early Stage of Making Jelly

    Jelly during the early stage of cooking. Leda Meredith

    During the early stage of cooking jelly, the liquid is visible while it boils. It's nowhere near ready yet.

    Continue to 3 of 7 below.
  • 03 of 07

    The Sheet or Spoon Test

    If the jelly pours off the spoon in a single drop, it isn't ready yet. Leda Meredith

    Dip a large spoon into the boiling jelly. Lift it about 1 1/2 feet above the pot and pour the liquid jelly out all at once. What you're looking for is the very last bit of jelly to come off the spoon. During the early stage of cooking, the last bit will pour off in a single drop.

    Continue to 4 of 7 below.
  • 04 of 07

    When the Jelly Foams Up It's Almost Ready

    What jelly looks like when it has almost reached the gel point. Leda Meredith

    As it gets near the gel point, bubbles will cover the entire surface of the boiling jelly and start to climb up the sides of the pot.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Do Another Spoon Test

    When the jelly is almost ready it will pour off the spoon in two drops. Leda Meredith

    When the jelly is almost done, the last bit of liquid jelly will come off the spoon in two drops rather than one.

    Continue to 6 of 7 below.
  • 06 of 07

    Test the Jelly Until It Sheets Off the Spoon

    Jelly has reached the jell point when it sheets off a spoon. Leda Meredith

    When the jelly is ready, the last drops pouring off the spoon will run together and "sheet" off the spoon.

    Continue to 7 of 7 below.
  • 07 of 07

    The Wrinkle Test for Jelly

    When jelly has reached the jell point it will "wrinkle" when pushed. Leda Meredith

    Another way to test your homemade jelly for doneness is the wrinkle test.

    Have a small plate in the freezer while you are cooking the jelly. When you think it is done (based on the spoon test or temperature), place a small amount of jelly on the plate and return the plate to the freezer for 1 minute. If the jelly wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it is done.

    Ready to give it a try? Try out a recipe for apple scrap jelly or strawberry jam.