Texas Jelly Maker (About)

I have been making jellies since high school. I would ride my bike out into the countryside and locate wild edibles as I rode. I would come back later in the car if the fruit were too many to carry in the bicycle. I usually was able to make three or four types of jellies each year. This year, since I have been retired,  I have been able to make many different types of jellies, jams, and butters. I find researching the jellies almost as much fun as making them. I scour my books and the internet for clues as to what kinds of fruit I will be able to make into jams and jellies. My fellow master naturalists, master gardeners and friends give me helpful tips too. Then I go outside and find the fruit, which is the best part of all. I have been scouting out fruit as long as I can remember. From the mountains in Hawaii to downtown Anchorage Alaska I have gathered fruit for jelly. Because I live in the great state of Texas I have decided to try to make as many native, commercial, and exotic jellies as I can from within the state. Happy jelly making to those who follow my blog or who are researching recipes.

17 Responses to Texas Jelly Maker (About)

  1. Holly says:

    I just discovered your site today–what fascinating recipes you offer! I especially like that many of them seem to be freezer jams/jellies. Is there a way to subscribe to your blog? I’d like to see what you come up with next!

  2. Walter Mookini says:

    Dear texasjellymaker,
    I live in Hawaii and my grandmother use to make natal plum (carissa) jam and jellies. They were good on just about anything. I saw your mentioning about the same and got me to thinking. Do you make it on a regular basis and if so….might I buy some from you? or would you recommend a company that you are aware of that might make it?

    • Walter-
      I agree with your assessment that natal plum is delicious. It is one of my favorite jellies too. I do make it every year but give it away to friends and family. I have no idea who sells it commercially but I do know that it grows in Hawaii. I found a photo of it at Shopping Center Pukalani, Maui, Home Depot Nursery Kahului, Maui Kahului Airport, Maui and also in Haiku,Maui. For more localities that have it in Hawaii check out http://www.hear.org/starr/images/species/?q=carissa+macrocarpa&o=plants
      I will soon be at the airport on Maui so I will look when I go. I feel it is likely you will find it on the other islands too since it is a popular plant to plant around gas stations, malls, hotels, and other public places.

  3. Lloyd Ewing says:

    I found your blog looking at web sites for Texas native plants. One of my hobbies is trying to grow native plants. When you get a batch of seeds that have been separated from the fruit, do you pass them on to growers of native plants? I think they are likely to be very much appreciated by those businesses. At our local chapter of the Native Plant Society we have a “Seed Exchange” where we bring small quantities of the seeds we have collected to share with other people at the meetings who like to grow their own plants. I am in Austin. I didn’t see anywhere in your blog that tells where you are located. It is a very nice web site.

    • Loyd-
      Glad you enjoy the blog. I enjoy hearing from readers. You bring up an interesting point about growing native plants. About 1/4 of the jellies and jams on this blog are made from native plants. I have been growing native plants from seeds and cuttings for about twenty years because I always look forward to making new plants for my backyard, friends, for sale, and for the city parks’ department. I have shared my jelly making with numerous groups, including a native plant group here in Central Texas. Most of my plants come from cuttings but quite a few are from seeds. For the most part jelly making requires the boiling of the fruit, seeds included, so I don’t get my seeds from the pulp caught by a sieve or cheese cloth. Where I use a juicer I can separate the seeds before it is cooked. Dewberries, mulberries, and mustang grapes are some that are easily juiced. As a matter of fact I planted dewberries and mustang grapes from seed that had been in the pulp this summer. They are now about two feet tall and growing. However, both would have been easier to have been start from stem or root cuttings (dewberries). Wild grapes have separate plants for male and female so I won’t know which I have until they first develop fruit. A cutting of the female mustang grape vine would have provided me with a sure female plant. I have started Texas persimmon, Blanco crabapple, elderberry, Mexican plum, ground cherry, agarita, and mayhaw from seed that I removed from fruit that I had set aside for seed removal rather than as a byproduct of jelly making. I also have made cuttings from elderberry, Mexican plum, mayhaw, and sand peach. Cuttings will generally set fruit years before plants started from seed. On the other hand, some plants like agarita don’t make cuttings very easy so starting from seed is best. Another advantage of seed is that your plants will likely have genetics different from the parent plant rather than being clones. Additionally, sometimes it may be difficult to get permission for cuttings or to even transport the cuttings home. My two favorite books about native Texas plants is “How to Grow Native plants of Texas and the Southwest by Jill Nokes and “Edible and useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest” by Delena Tull.
      Good luck with your native seed propagation.

      • Morgan L says:

        Hi! Great blog and fascinating thread here. I’ve just boiled up a batch of Agarita fruit. Will the seeds still be good after they have boiled? I saved out a few fruits just as seed sources but I would love to be able to plant the mass of seeds that I have left over from the jelly making. Thanks for posting all this information!

      • Morgan-
        Am happy you enjoy the blog. Cooking kills the embryo of the seed so if you are wanting seeds for planting you will need to use ones that have not been cooked. I have started Agarita from seed several times and it has been difficult. Jill Nokes in “How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest” gives a very good description on how to start the seed. She recommends stratifying (chilling) the seed at 41 degrees for 30-40 days prior to planting. Or you can keep the seed dry and plant them in the fall and they will germinate in the spring. Even after you get them to sprout they grow slowly but put down deep roots which makes repotting them a challenge. The more seed you plant the better your chances. I just finished processing seed this week for planting. I found a yellow fruiting agarita so I have decided to try planting the seed to see if any of them will produce yellow fruit. This is a long term project since the plant grows very slowly. The plants I started in 2012 are about a foot tall and haven’t fruited yet. Also, some of the see I planted in 2012 is still coming up. Good luck.

  4. Morgan L says:

    Thank you very much for all that great info! Acting on your advice I did not try to plant the seeds left over from the jelly making but instead offered them along with the pulped remains of the fruits to the chickens. I am pleased to report that chickens LOVE Agarita fruit! I plan on ordering the two books you recommend on Amazon this week. Thanks again for this great blog. Its really nice to know that I am not the only person who enjoys doing this sort of thing.

    • Morgan- So glad the chickens liked the seeds and pulp. I don’t have chickens so my pulp and seeds goes into my compost. I know you will love the books. I consult both of those frequently. Now you will have to try many of my other recipes. When I started this blog I had no idea if anyone else would be interested in my jelly and jam recipes. At this point I have had visitors from over 170 countries(!), all 50 states and Puerto Rico, for a total of over 95,000 views. I thought I would only get visitors from Texas. I sure was wrong about that. Happy jelly (and jam) making.

  5. Hello Texas Jelly Maker, so thrilled to find your blog. I am about a 5 year Texas transplant and in my years here have dabbled a little bit in native plant jellies, such as the prickly pear, and Chile Pequin (hot sauce). I have a friend who recently bought a house outside of town and has several Brasil/Bluewood trees, which are full of ripe dark berries right now. We were hoping you might have a jelly recipe for them. Thank you for your recipes for the Chile Pequin with Pyracantha Jelly. I am thrilled to try it as I have several bushes of both things on my place and with all the rain we got this spring and fall they are LOADED with fruit!!!!!!!! Will make perfect gifts for Christmas for my family back in Wyoming. 🙂

    • Mrs. H.-
      Am glad you have enjoyed my blog. I too am a transplant to Texas, albeit 40 years ago. Nobody I had talked to had made Chile Pequin Jelly so it was fun coming up with a recipe. As far as Pyracantha Jelly I really like that the fruit stay on the plant a long time so it provides a long harvest season. As far as the Brasil/Bluewood jelly I did make a batch of it one year. Alas, although the fruit was said to be edible the jelly had a texture and taste I found quite objectionable. I tossed out every container of the jelly. That is saying a lot for me to toss out a jelly after all the work to pick the fruit and process it. Have fun with your family in Wyoming.

      • My friend went ahead and sort of made up a recipe using the 8 cups of berries that she picked. She said the pulp was real thick and stringy, but had a nice flavor. She watered it down some and went ahead with the jelling process. I guess we’ll see if it is edible. 🙂 Thank you for your reply.

      • As a follow-up to my reply, my friend did go ahead and make her jelly, and although the texture is somewhat different than say grape jelly, it is delicious! I thought your readers might be interested to know how she made it. First she placed 8 cups of raw berries into a kettle and filled with water just to the top of the berries. She brought it to a rolling boil and cooked it for about 10 minutes. She then ran it through her sieve to remove all the seeds. She ended up with about 5 cups of fruit pulp, which she brought back to a boil on the stove ,and then added her 1 pink box (low sugar) Sure Jell, following the box instructions. She reduced heat, added 4 cups of sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice and brought the mixture back to a rolling boil, and then removed from heat. She filled her hot jelly jars and processed in a boiling water bath for about 15 minutes. The jelly is a dark, rich purple color and absolutely delicious on a hot buttered biscuit!

      • Mike-
        I don’t know anywhere that will pick dewberries for you. Now, if you are willing to have blackberries instead there are many place that grow blackberries for sale. Hope this helps.

  6. It was the thick and stringy part I found objectionable. Let us know what you think.

  7. Mike Mercado says:

    Good afternoon. I am trying to find someone to purchase dewberries from. My Contact in Bloomington, Texas is not picking anymore! I am looking for 30-40 gallons. HELP!

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