(Happy-Go-Lucky Memoirs of a Foodie and her Peeps)

Friday, July 17, 2015

"Would Ya Please Pass The Jelly?"

I had a very large bottle of wine, opened and with not much of it drank, left at my house by a friend after an event that Husband and I hosted.  I am not much of a wine person, especially white wine, so I had no idea what to do with it; and because it was Moscato, it would be too sweet for cooking with.  After lamenting in passing about this “dilemma” in the proximity of other friends (I do hate to waste things, even if I didn’t pay for them), it was suggested that I make jelly out of it.  I didn’t know one could make jelly out of wine, but what the hell, right?  To the Internets I went researching, and soon enough, I had a plan and a box of pectin.  This, was, let’s not forget, my first foray into any kind of canning other than pickles, and I would most certainly categorize it as an experiment.  I will tell this story mostly via pictures.  Here goes...

The instructions that came with the Pectin - part 1.
The instructions that came with the Pectin - part 2.  I used the recipe shown
here for Sweet Grape juice.  (If you click on the photo, you should get a bigger version on
which the type should be large enough to read clearly.

The wine (this was a double-size bottle), after I poured what conveniently
amounted to exactly 4 cups of liquid into the pans); and the Pectin package.

Jar lids and bands, ready to be boiled.

Boiling the jars.
Pectin being scooped into the boiling liquid in the blender.

Blending the Pectin into the 1 cup of boiled wine.

After the jars were filled, back into the water they went to be boiled for 10 minutes.

Bubbles coming up and out.  (I had to put my glass casserole lid on top to weigh them down
because I didn't have enough product to fill both jars enough, and they wanted to float.)

Cooling down.

The next morning, I tried it out on an English muffin.  It's not the best color for photographing,
but when starting with white wine, there's not much that can be done about that.

Thoughts, musings, and what mt brain absorbed:
  1. I found it odd that this recipe didn’t call for any sugar at all.  I am sure when staring with actual fruit or fruit juice, it’s no big deal.  But I think the fact that I started with wine turned this out far less sweet than I would have wanted, despite the fact that Moscato is a pretty sweet wine to begin with.  The jelly is not bad and I won’t throw it away or call it a failure – but I can only give it a “meh” review for flavor.  Bottom line – I should have added sugar anyways.

  2. Regarding the Calcium Water – this brand of pectin and its instructions and website make it sound like using the calcium water is absolutely essential, or else their particular kind of pectin just won’t do its thing.  I don’t know about that.  After researching about pectin, liquid versus powdered, etc., I feel like the calcium water wasn’t truly necessary.  But I followed the instructions anyways because having some extra calcium in the jelly can’t hurt.

  3. Speaking of liquid versus powdered pectin – the original recipe that I found online and was planning to use called for liquid pectin and was simpler than this one, but we couldn’t find liquid pectin at the store.  So, I followed the package insert instructions from the brand we did find, exactly.  However, I did do a bunch of research about when and how to use liquid versus powdered pectin, and I feel confident now that I know what to do next time and/or can modify a recipe that calls for one or the other.  According to these links (Liquid Pectin Vs. Powdered Pectin and Canning 101: How to Substitute Pectin), the basic tenet is if you are using liquid pectin, you can throw it in close to the end of cooking; but if you’re using powdered, you should mix it into the sugar before you combine it with the fruit because it responds better when you cook it the entire time and also avoids the risk of pectin clumping that can happen if you add powdered pectin at the end of cooking.

  4. I want smaller canning jars.  The unused leftover ones I had on hand from when I made pickles were just too big, and I ended up with only two 3/4 full jars -- which is probably still too much jelly for us to consume before it goes bad after opening.  I will get some smaller ones for any future jelly making.
In the end, I feel as though I learned a lot insofar as the basics of canning (general method / basic concepts / procedure / order of operations).  I feel much more confident and less intimidated about it all and look forward to giving it another try sometime soon.  I also plan to try jams, preserves, some no-pectin recipes, etc.

Sometimes at work you were researching liquid v. powdered pectin, and leave the package
insert on your desk when you go to lunch, then this happens. Lol.  (That's my boss' handwriting.)

EDITED TO ADD:  After chatting with my boss about the bland-ish taste my jelly ended up with, she suggested (thinking in the realm of wine/food pairings) that next time I put some basil in the jelly.  Hmmm, very interesting.  Given how well hot peppers go in sweet jellies, I think this sounds like a good idea.  I am even considering melting this jelly down and re-canning it (because that’s a thing that can technically be done) into smaller jars, with the added basil.