Why you should always check the expiration date on Pectin

Crestfallen…that is how I felt when I woke up this morning.


adjective /ˈkrestˌfôlən/ 

  1. Sad and disappointed
    • - he came back empty-handed and crestfallen


When I walked into the kitchen and picked up the 125ml jar of what was supposed to be Beer Jam but is still simply beer liquid, I felt my heart drop. I knew that the people who attended my Prosecco Jelly (which turned out beautifully) and Beer Jam class last night at The Depanneur would at some point come to the same realization when they checked the jars they brought home last night.

I sat down with a bit of a thunk at my kitchen table, rested my head in my hands and mentally ran through the list of reasons why a jelly doesn’t set so that I could diagnose the situation.

  • Incorrect amount of sugar. I knew that was not the problem as I watched as Vicky meticulously measured the sugar and even got someone to double check the quantity. Sugar was not our problem
  • Not enough acid. We used the juice of 1 lemon as the recipe called for and I watched Gwen squeeze the life out of that lemon. Acid was not our problem.
  • Overripe fruit. There was no fruit in this particular jelly unless you consider Guinness Beer a fruit, so I knew I could cross this one of our list.
  • Not enough pectin. We used the prescribed amount of pectin. Not enough pectin officially crossed off the list.
  •  We cooked the jelly for too long after adding the pectin causing it to break down. We timed it to the second. Argghhh….what was the reason

 Suddenly it came to me in a flash and I ran to my Rubbermaid container with the supplies from the class last night and dug out the box with the pectin used in the beer jelly. EXPIRED.

 KEY LEARNING: Always, always, always check the box for the expiration date before using it.

 The good news for those in the class is that you can still use what is in the jar. It is not a total waste. Just bring it to a gentle simmer in a pan until it begins to thicken up and use it as a syrup or marinade.

 But as anyone who knows me will attest, this really bothers me. For those in my class (and I am going to try to reach you via email) who would like a jar of the Beer Jam that they got to taste at the beginning of the class, just drop me a line. I will whip up a batch and drop some off at The Dep for you to pick up.

I hope that the skills you learned in the class will still prove handy and that you will have the confidence to try this recipe again at home!