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I got a call from my friend Wendy a few weeks ago that went something like this:

Wendy – “I’m going to pick some lilly pillies – do you want some?”

Me – “I guess so, what are you going to do with them?”

Wendy – “Make some jam”

Me – “OK, sounds like a plan.  Have you got a recipe?”  (Feeling very unsure about the whole thing)

Wendy – “Yep, no problems. ”

20 minutes later, Wendy was on my doorstep with a bag of lilly pillies ready to be ‘jammed’.  Only problem was, after a little investigation, we discovered that lilly pillies don’t like to be ‘jammed’, they prefer to be ‘jellied’.  Being big and brave, we decided to take this task on.  Homemade jelly is something I ‘ve been wanting to attempt, just hadn’t got around to it.  So now was as good a time as any, or my stash of lilly pilly’s would soon be compost.

Lilly Pilly Tree

Lilly Pilly Tree

After searching around (or actually, Wendy did the searching), the recipe that I used as a base was from Through My Kitchen Window.  I have to say that it was a very simple exercise, the hardest part being the cleaning of the fruit.  So simple in fact, I’ve now made two batches – the second one was huge – so I’ve got plenty of homemade jelly for Christmas presents.

Lilly Pilly Homemade Jelly


This is roughly the ratios I used:

1kg Lilly Pillies

Water, enough to cover lilly pillies

5 cups sugar

Juice of one lemon (about 1/3 cup)


First step, and I must say the most time consuming, is to wash the fruit really well.  Make sure you remove any spoilt fruit, leaves, dried flowers, twigs and green stalks.  Like me, you probably won’t get it all but get as much as you can.  Rinse and strain the fruit a couple of times or until you feel it’s good to go.

Washing fruit for lilly pilly jelly

Washing the fruit

Place the clean fruit into a nice deep pan and just cover with water.  Because the fruit floats, it’s very difficult to judge the water level.  So, the best way to do this is place your hand on top of the fruit before starting to fill the pan.  Then start to fill it, but don’t move your hand, and let the water reach your hand before switching the tap off.

Put the pan onto the stove and bring to the boil.  Cook until the fruit is soft and colour of the lilly pillies has gone (it’s transferred into the water).

Boiling fruit for homemade jelly

Boiling the lilly pillies

Get a piece of muslin, or a clean tea towel, and rinse it well in very hot water.  Line a colander or strainer with the material and place it over a pan to catch the juices.  I used a large stock pan that has colander insert, it was perfect.

Setup for straining the fruit for homemade jelly

Setup for straining the lilly pillies

Tip the boiled fruit into the colander – don’t squeeze the fruit or put pressure on it at any time.  If you do, the juice will be cloudy and so will your homemade jelly.  Now tie and suspend the muslin bag to allow the juice to strain through freely and leave it overnight.  I used an old broom handle suspended between two chairs.  Just look around the house, you’ll find something you can use.

Homemade jelly straining through muslin bag

Straining boiled fruit & juices

Now leave it overnight to make sure as much juice as possible is extracted.

Strained juice for homemade jelly

Strained lilly pilly juice

The next day, measure the liquid.  For every cup of liquid, add one cup of sugar (around 1kg of fruit at the start should produce around 5 cups or 1.25 litres).  Add the juice of one lemon as well – around 1/3 cup for this amount.

Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, then stop stirring.  Bring the mixture to the boil.  The surface will have a scum which can be scraped off during boiling, or later.  Make sure you only remove the scum and not any of the liquid.

Homemade jelly boiling

Boiling the lilly pilly jelly

When the jelly reaches setting point, there is a distinct change in the boiling pattern.  It’s hard to explain but the jelly bubbles all over the surface. If you watch closely, you will see it.  The time to reach this point will vary depending on many factors such as amount of liquid, size of the pan etc.  For me it was around 15 minutes.

Test for setting of the jelly by placing a drop of liquid onto a plate that has been cooled in the freezer.  Return the plate to the freezer for around 1 minute, and then push the surface of the jelly with your finger.  If the surface wrinkles and a definite line can be drawn in the jelly, it is ready.

What setting point looks like for homemade jelly

Setting point for lilly pilly jelly

Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal (see notes)

The Klutzy Cook Notes

  • This recipe makes about 5 cups of jelly.  To sterilize the jars, wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water then rinse well in hot water and drain.  Put the jars into a low oven (100C-120C/210F-250F) for 30 minutes.  Remove the jars a few minutes before use so that they are still warm when bottling the jam.
  • This homemade jelly is fantastic on the usual suspects of toast, crumpets and scones.  It is also great spooned over yoghurt, and although we haven’t tried it, I’m sure it would be nice on ice cream too.

I must say that I’m very impressed with my first attempt at homemade jelly – the results were spectacular.  The final jelly is a fantastic pinkish red colour (perfect for Christmas) and has a very unique flavour – think peppers and berries.  My youngest son has already gone through a jar – he has it on toast and spooned over plain yoghurt.

If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that has a lilly pilly tree that bears fruit (if you live in Brisbane, Australia – they are everywhere and fruit in late November), do try this recipe.  It’s worth it.

Check out my other preserve recipes here.

If you have any comments or questions about Lilly Pilly Homemade Jelly, please leave them below.

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