How do I fix these melty jellies?
December 18, 2010 11:09 PM   Subscribe

Please help me fix my melty pate de fruits

I made these lovely pate de fruits with meyer lemon and vanilla bean, using liquid pectin. They set up beautifully, and I rolled them in sugar. A few hours later they are sitting in puddles of melted sugar. The fruits themselves do not appear to be melting, I think it is just the sugar absorbing the humidity and melting.

Is it possible to fix these and stop the melting? I'm sure we can dry them off (in the oven on low heat or something) but won't they just start melting again once we take them out? I'm giving these as gifts so would like them to still look nice in a day.

Making them again isn't an option at this point. Hive mind, save my stocking stuffers!
posted by lvanshima to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know anything about pate de fruits, but I had the same problem with some candied fruit I made last weekend. The first lot of sugar I rolled them in melted into the fruit. So then I put it on rack and left it out for 48 hours to dry off a bit, and then did it again, and that time the sugar stayed solid. I don't know if that is possible with pate de fruits or not, though.
posted by lollusc at 12:08 AM on December 19, 2010

I'm assuming you're using regular crystalline white sugar, which is standard for finishing pates de fruits. This sugar doesn't melt at room temperature, even in high ambient humidity. Unless there is something missing from your writeup that suggests that the sugar is the issue, I'm going to have to guess that the problem is that the pate itself is too moist. This is the most common problem with pate de fruit.

How are you storing them? Is there condensation in the container they are stored in? Is this why you think it is ambient humidity?

Either way, I can think of 2 ways to fix them. The first, and most likely to work is to simply brush off most of the sugar and toss them all into a saucepan with a tiny bit of water, and melt them down and reduce over a low heat. Stir constantly and monitor the liquid level/volume. Reduce by at least 20-30% (depending on how much water you added). Pull out a teaspoon full and cool in the fridge to see how well it is setting before pouring out the whole batch.

*Note that it is possible to dry them off in the oven in the same way, but it won't happen without melting the 'fruits, it'll take much longer than the stove top, and you'll have less effective temperature control, so I don't suggest this.

The other suggestion is probably a bad idea, but I only mention it because it is something that I'd try. Take 2 or 3 of the 'fruits, brush off as much sugar as you can, and roll them in kosher salt, wrap them in a paper towel and let them rest at room temperature for a half-hour. The salt will draw out much of the moisture. It will also add a bit of a salty taste, which may be either imperceptible or even complementary with the meyer lemon. Brush off the salt and roll them in sugar before tasting them. Too salty? Still melty? Probably...
posted by Anoplura at 12:09 AM on December 19, 2010

Best answer: Yeah, drying is the trick - unless it's extremely humid, then the sugar is likely absorbing moisture from the gel. You've got to let them set, then cool/dry for 2~3 hours before dusting with sugar.

Also, what sort of sugar did you use? Sanding sugar is best; the larger granules dry the surface as they absorb moisture and stick. At a pinch, you can replace sanding sugar with table sugar and a little (2~3%) cornflour - the cornflour helps dry the surface.

(I've really got to stop reading food gel industrial process manuals…)
posted by Pinback at 12:25 AM on December 19, 2010

As a graduate of jam and jelly disasters, I do know that trying to get a jelly to set that has already been through the process has been a bust for me. If this were my disaster, this is what I would try:

1. I would give it a little time. I had some jelly that came out of the hot water bath and didn't set up. I stashed it in the back of the pantry. When I pulled the jars out a week later, they had set.

2. I would try putting a few in the oven on very low temps, more as a dehydrator than a baking cycle.

3. I would stick a few in a cup of sugar and cover them in a layer of sugar. Perhaps the sugar will leech out the excess moisture. Then, the excess sugar can be shaken off. Sort of like applying glitter to a line of glue, ya know?

4. Perhaps roll a few in cornstarch as suggested above.

Trial and error, man. Don't put all the jellies through a process until you are certain it won't make the problem worse.
posted by Foam Pants at 4:15 AM on December 19, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all - super appreciate the suggestions. I have a time constraint I didn't mention - we are celebrating Christmas today so if I can't fix them in a couple hours it's a bust. I'm going to get some sanding sugar and try that.
posted by lvanshima at 8:43 AM on December 19, 2010

Response by poster: We patted them dry and put them on paper towels in front of a fan. Then we rolled them in sparkling sugar (closest we could get to sanding sugar). It worked well enough so I wasn't enbarassed to give them as gifts - a victory in my book!
posted by lvanshima at 7:08 PM on December 19, 2010

« Older must get iron into baby   |   Kindle: Can you listen to an MP3 and look at a PDF... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.