Rosella fruit comes from the Hibiscus sabdariffa plant which is a native of Africa and Asia. The plants can grow up to 1.5-2m high and 1m wide. They are suited to warm, tropical and sub-tropical climates. As they are packed with vitamin C, they are very good for you. Currently we have four plants growing, which we have been getting a lot of fruit from. With this fruit, I have been making homemade rosella jam and rosella cordial.
Homemade Rosella Jam
Homemade jams need pectin to help them thicken and set. Some fruits have more of this than others. Low-pectin fruits often need lemon juice to help the set. Jam sugar or a jam setting agent can also be used.
If you are using low-pectin fruits in your jam, you should also add some lemon juice or perhaps mix in some high-pectin fruit to help your jam to set. Alternatively, using jam sugar with low-pectin fruit works well.
To make jam, you need to soften the fruit first. We like our jams relatively smooth, so while softening the fruit, I use a masher to mash it to a smooth puree, though this is just our personal choice.
The mixture will then need to boil and thicken and you will need to stir it frequently so that it doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. One way to check if your jam is ready, simply place 3 or 4 small plates in the freezer before you start. When you think the jam may be ready, place a small teaspoon amount of the jam onto one of the cold plates from the freezer and let it sit for about 30 seconds. Then press the top of the blob with your finger. If the jam crinkles, then it is ready to be bottled. Remember jams set as they cool.
Why Didn’t my Jam Set?
There are many reasons as to why your jam didn’t set. It may have needed to be cooked longer or sometimes, the fruit you used didn’t have enough natural sugar and needed a little more pectin added.
If you followed these instructions and your jam didn’t set properly, place your jam in the fridge overnight. If it isn’t set in the morning, you could try re-cooking it a bit longer and may adding a bit of pectin or some more sugar and lemon, though have a taste test you don’t want to add too much that it may affect the flavour.
There are a few ways to sterilise your jars, this is the one I use.
Wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water. Rinse the jars in hot water and place upside down on racks in an oven heated to 120˚c. You can line the racks with baking paper first if you want. Heats the jars for 20 minutes. Do not place cold jam into hot jars or they may crack and break.
A couple of other notes to remember:
- Sugar dissolves better when warmed slightly. This can be done in the oven.
- While cooking this jam, I prefer to use a wooden spoon for stirring.
- As the jam reaches setting pot, it is most likely to start sticking and burning, so you need to pay close attention to it and stir often.
This jam will need to be stored in the fridge and should last about 1-3 months this way. Though, if you follow the correct instructions for canning (the hot water bath method), you will be able to store it in the pantry for up to two years.
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Wash and dry the rosellas by soaking them in a sink full of cold water for a few minutes, then drain.
- Separate the red calyxes (the fleshy cover) from the seedpods (green inside). An easy way to do this is to push an apple corer hard against the base of the calyx which will then separate the seedpod and the calyx. Place the seedpods in a saucepan and the calyxes in a bowl for use later.
- Wash both the seedpods and the calyxes separately.
- Cover the seedpods with water until the seeds are just covered.
- Bring to the boil and cook, covered for 30 minutes. They will become soft and transparent.
- Strain the seedpods, reserving the juice. The seedpods can be discarded.
- Add the juice back into the saucepan with the red calyxes. The calyxes may not be fully covered with the juice, but that's okay.
- Boil for 20 minutes until a 'pulp' consistecy is formed.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and measure the volume of the cooked pulp using the cup measurement. You will need to know this for later.
- Return the pulp mixture to the saucepan with the teaspoon of butter and the juice of one lemon.
- You will need 1 cup of sugar for each cup of pulp. For example, if you had 2 cups of pulp, you will need 2 cups of sugar. Warm the sugar in a heatproof tray in the oven on low heat for a couple of minutes before adding to the pulp mixture.
- Add the warmed sugar and stir until it is completely dissolved.
- Quickly boil the mixture, uncovered for about 20 minutes or until the jam falls thickly off a spoon.
- Another way to test the jam is ready is to place a saucer in the freezer to chill. Then place a small amount of the jam on the saucer, wait for it to cool slightly, then press the top of it with your finger. If the jam crinkles, it is cooked. Remember, jams set as they cool.
- Once ready, bottle the jam into the prepared hot jars and seal.
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