one green planet
one green planet

When I first became a vegetarian several years ago, I learned that food manufacturers use gelatin in all sorts of food items, namely gummy, sticky, chewy snacks and candy. Unfortunately, gelatin is derived from boiling the skin, tendons, bones, ligaments, and hooves of animals.

This ingredient can end up in jams, jellies, and food items containing a jelly center, so label reading is necessary to avoid it. Of course, you can make your own jellies and jams without using gelatin. Then, you won’t have to look out for gelatin on the label. Follow these steps to making your own, all-natural jellies and jams without gelatin:

1. Get Some Quality Jars

Stock up on some mason jars, because you’ll definitely need them at the end of this process to hold and store your jelly. Buy them in bulk to save money and I’m sure you’ll start finding several uses for the extra jars around the house, especially for preserving and fermenting food.

2. Choose a Fruit

Next, choose the type of fruit spread you want to make. If you’re a fan of berries, you must enjoy jelly, since strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries make for great, rich-tasting spreadable fruit. But don’t stop at the classics; you can also make yummy jam from mangoes too. Try to shop organic as much as possible, especially fruits that are part of the dirty dozen.

3. Emulsify and Blend

The fruit is the #1 ingredient for your jam or jelly, but the other important part is finding something to give your project a jelly consistency. Pectin is the plant-based alternative to gelatin when making jams and jellies, and it is a vegetarian product found in the cellular structure of fruits and vegetables. Pectin can solidify into a gel, and it can be used in food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics to help thicken and emulsify products. You can find pectin at a grocery store, or you can follow this guide to making your own. Or, you can use different ingredients instead that would help bind and gel your jelly or jam, such as chia seeds. Some recipes may call for cornstarch and water that you boil with the fruit. Others may call for blending the ingredients with a Vitamix or blender.

4. Can and Chill

Once you have mixed your jelly or jam, transfer it to a jar. You’ll want to let it chill in the fridge for about half an hour before it is ready to serve.

5. Eat and Enjoy!

Now that you’ve got some delicious, homemade jam, what will you use it for? For some ideas, use pepper jelly and blackberry jam for this Pepper Jelly Stuffed French Toast with Blackberry Maple Syrup and spread any flavor over some french toast or a cinnamon roll. Don’t stop at breakfast. Use jalapeno ginger jelly for Roasted Vegetables with Heat Sweets Jalapeno Ginger Jelly and any flavor jelly for these Crisped Rice Peanut Butter and Jam Thumbprint Cookies.

Image source: Coconut, Almond, and Raspberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies

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