July 17, 2018

My Frugal DIY Experiment: Homemade Jelly

May 26, 2011

If you are a member of the Couponing 101 Facebook page then you know that I recently tried making homemade jelly! I have to admit, I still don’t know if it’s worth all the effort! While it wasn’t necessarily hard to make, it was very time consuming (though I’m told it takes less time the more you do it). I really enjoyed seeing the final product though!

Now, the question is – is it cost effective? Here is my price breakdown for making homemade peach jelly:

  • Peaches – $18
  • Pectin (2 boxes) – $3.37
  • Sugar (14 cups) – $3.36
  • Jars (18 – these can be reused) – $12.71

Final Cost: $37.44 for 18 jars of jelly.

That works out to $2.08 per jar. If you eliminate the cost of the jars (since they are reusable) it works out to only $1.37 per jar. I purchased everything except the peaches at Walmart and I did not buy any special equipment except for a funnel.

This isn’t a spectacular price for jelly, but if you compare it to homemade jelly you buy at specialty shops or fairs then it’s not bad. You also have to consider that knowing exactly what goes into your food is priceless!

I am planning to set aside a few jars until Christmas because I think homemade jelly is a great gift idea! Tie it up with a cute ribbon and add it to a basket with a loaf of homemade bread and you have a delicious, inexpensive, and thoughtful gift!

I have a couple of guest posts lined up for those who are interested in learning how to can and/or make jelly. I’m definitely looking forward to learning more about the process!

What do you think? Is making your own jelly worth it?


  1. Jessi Butti says:

    My family goes through a lot of jelly and jam, so for us it is worth it. I have purchased many of my jars at garage/estate sales, which makes the cost far less. Even though it is time consuming I like that I can make low sugar jams, jellies, and ice-cream toppings in all different combinations. Since moving to Plano I have found it harder to get the fruit cheap at u-pick farms or farmers markets, but I may just not be looking at the right places. We had some great orchards in California where I could get bulk fruit that was going to go bad or bruised. Many times I could get bushels of fruit that was not the “pretty” fruit for much cheaper. When you are making jams and such it is ok if it has bruises.

  2. As the Coupon Queen, your only mistake was the overpriced peaches. This would have been perfect if you had picked peaches off a tree. Or if there was a special price on peaches at the store. I make loquat jam from my tree in the back yard. Definitely time consuming, but cheap and yummy. But I’m sure your jelly is much better than store bought. And no preservatives. Good for you! Be proud!

    • @Donna, This is really hard in TX. We don’t have too many peaches in most parts, so we rely on what we can get at Farmer’s Markets and groceries… Lots of cotton and rice grown, but neither are very tasty for making jelly. 🙂

  3. For a family such as ours – who never (or rarely) eat jelly – it would be a waste!! I bought two containers of squeeze jelly a couple of weeks ago. One strawberry, one grape. I can almost bet you that a year from today, neither of those will be empty! And I have 3 kids…..

  4. Stephanie says:

    Yes it is so worth it. Mostly it is cheaper but really I just like the idea of knowing that I know what goes into what my kids are eating. It helps that I have two apple trees, two apricot trees, a pie cherry tree and a plum tree. So it is very cheap for me.

  5. Myself and my 3 yr old are the only ones that eat anything like that around here and actually I prefer jam. My problem would be finding a place to keep it all. I think even if it’s time consuming it’s something that’s fun and a great memory for your kids.. even if they don’t help in the process. I always remember my Grandmother canning tomatoes & my Mom making raspberry jam, canning white peaches & making homemade dill pickles. She used to get big buckets from a local fast food place for incredibly cheap and use cucumbers from the garden. We’d store the buckets in the closet. Those were the best pickles I ever ate! but more so they’re great memories 🙂

  6. What I like about making my own jelly is the ability to mix flavors you will probably never see at the store. We made strawberry watermelon, plain watermelon, watermelon ice cream topping (OK this was a first batch and didn’t jell well so poof ice cream topping. I have frozen some strawberries until I can get some blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries and currents. (yes a tart but sweet heavenly jam) You can also add as much fruit, or non at all. My oldest doesn’t like seeds or solids in her jellies so we used our juicer with the strawberries and made a very smooth, nearly seedless juice with little loss of mass.
    We too plan on using them as Yule gifts with some bread and cheese. (my next endeavor)

  7. Lucinda says:

    I love to make my own jellies and jams! I have found a place in my area owned and run by the Amish that sells a knock off sure gel product much cheaper than the actual sure gel. My families favorite jelly is elderberry, which grows wild in our area, if you know when and where to look for it. It is something that you cannot buy at the store, and it tastes awesome! For that reason alone I would can my own jelly!

  8. Stephanie Varela says:

    I agree that homemade jellies are a great gift and also consider making sugar free batches I have done this and I have relatives that ask for it all year. I have also started to can my own salsa. My husband can eat half a jar for dinner each night and it was getting expensive to buy it so I decided to learn to make it myself and then I decided to can some. It has been a great money saver and my husband has an endless supply. I have made several different hotness levels and can whip one out to suit any guests taste. My grown boys have begun stopping by to get a jar to take to friends to share it for a bbq for instance. My husband gives it out at Christmas to friends at work. I recently learned to make the Tomatillo salsa and it is also a big hit! It is my personal favorite. So give the salsa a try when you get a chance. Sincerely, Stephanie! The lunch lady in Oxnard CA

  9. I think that knowing you are able to is great! I plan on doing some first time canning here soon, because I need to know that if I have to, I can! Good job, it looks peachy! (sorry…couldn’t resist the pun)

  10. You did a lovely job putting the finishing touches on your jelly……..labels,bow. There’s something about homemade foods that are way more valuable than the money involved. Also, the price for homemade jellies like yours at stores around here would be at least $6.
    Great job!

  11. 3 years ago we moved from the UK and I needed a distraction so I started pickling and preserving anything I could get my hands on. Now it’s a joke around here that the smell of summer in our house is vinegar. 🙂
    It is time consuming but not difficult and the rewards are SO worth the effort (much like gardening).
    Every Christmas present or hostess gift has been some sort of jam, jelly, chutney, relish, or pickle since I started canning and the recipient is always grateful.
    Like @Jeanne said, homemade foods are always more valuable.
    Good luck in your endeavors!

    • @Pary Moppins, I would love to become much more efficient at it because it seems like something I could really enjoy. I LOVE feeding my family foods that I made myself! And I would love to give nice homemade gifts like this every year.

  12. For me it is worth it too since knowing what goes into my jam is very important. Also being able to control and cut down on the sugar is HUGE. We love jam and it is nice to have the satisfaction of being able to make your own combinations too.

  13. Have you tried no-cook freezer jam? It took only a few minutes to whip up a batch, and store it in old butter tubs.

    • Jennifer says:

      @OC_Ski, I agree! Freezer jams are not great for gifting, but they are much faster to make and still provide you the benefit of knowing what is in your food. We do this all the time!

  14. I bet if you do some searching you will find that fruit for free. My friend makes jams and jellies and she found a few ppl that have fruit trees and the fruit is going to waste and they say if you want it come pick it for FREE!! and that will take your cost down tremendously!!
    Last she she made jalepeno jelly…OMG so yumi!!!
    She always gives me jelly and jam, its so good and I am really thinking about doing it myself too.

  15. I’d like to try this, but was wondering if it’s possible to use recycled spagetti sauce jars to keep the cost down.

    • @Vicky, Officially Ball and Kerr says you should not because those jars aren’t made to withstand the high heat of processing. However, when I was a kid we used to use old peanut butter jars and such as long as the seal/lids fit well and of course were glass. I would say try one and see if it seals and hold the seal for awhile. You can keep saving them in case it works.

  16. I love making jelly, especially for the grandkids. And the jelly is getting pretty high at the store. The fruit is getting pretty high. But, I buy when they are on sale. And it tastes good.

  17. I agree with most, I love making jelly and giving it as gifts. Grape jelly is simple and quick to make for a first timer using the frozen grape juice concentrate. My favorite is Blackberry jam and it is abundant in the pacific northwest! Another quick and simple canning project is pickles. It is the one I started with, simple and I can put habenaros in the jar for the hubby who likes them hot (also I can’t find them with peppers in them)! I hope you continue to can, it does get easier with time. I usually set aside a week or two in the fall and can until I can’t stand anymore!! I have bought canning jars new, but you can find them on craigslist, garage sales or inherit them, that seems to be how my collection is growing (2 Grandma’s that don’t want to can anymore!) . I really do like to know what is going into my food, so this is a major reason I like to can. Also I am diabetic, so I can do the no sugar recipes. One recipe I found on food.com was a watermelon rind jelly. It sounds icky, it’s the white part of the rind, it is time consuming, but everyone I have given a jar to says it tastes like honey and they love it. Was a great gift at the holidays!

  18. Linda from Georgia says:

    My favorite is hot pepper jelly. Unfortunately it is addictive on Ritz Crackers with sharp cheese. I like it with onion and a blend of hot peppers. The only way to get it is to make it. I am going to do low sugar jelly this year. Anyone know of a good web site for canning?

  19. Yvonne Pewitt says:

    I love making jelly. Plum is my favorite and I love peach jam. I make both. I also can tomatoes, green beans, beets, make spaghetti out of tomatoes out of out garden. I give jelly and canned vegetables to my kids for Christmas. We also have squash, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, beets, black eyed peas, yellow and zucchini squash and cucumbers in our garden.

  20. I LOVE that you posted that & would love how to do it myself with as little equipment as you used. I think the idea of putting it in a basket with a loaf of bread for Christmas is great! I have a lot of older relatives who “don’t want anything” for the holidays but they would love this. I also don’t want to invest a ton in trying it out.

  21. Tia LeBrun says:

    I went with homemade jelly (my first attempt) this past Christmas. I made peeper jelly. For the total cost of 4 dozen jars with supplies I spent roughly $41.00. It was an amazing way to let everyone know we are thinking of them without breaking the budget. I always look for the markdown produce at Kroger and was able to get three sacks of sweet peppers for $1 each! I will do this again this year. I also make my own bath salts for Mother’s Day. The kids always love to help 🙂

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