20 Sep Recipe: Baco Noir Wine Jelly
Get smug while making preserves and you’ll smart for it. Think you’re too coordinated to need a funnel? Well, let me tell you, one blob of 220°F jelly straight to the thumb will change your mind in a heck of a hurry. It certainly made me rethink saving a few bucks. After a couple of years eyeballing it with a ladle, I’m now the contrite owner of a stainless steel canning funnel from Lee Valley. And no, they didn’t pay me for the mention. I’m just trying to save you some grief.
Of course, to make the trek worthwhile, I left with an herb infuser and jelly bag. I was determined the next batch wouldn’t beat me. And it didn’t.
Despite the blister on my thumb, I had a lot of fun making wine jelly from We Sure Can. Not only does Sarah B. Hood present an amazing array of jams, jellies, compotes, chutneys and pickles, she selected her recipes with a wide range of people in mind. In the section entitled “What Kind of Canner are You?” Sarah nails the different approaches: Thrifty Householder, Crafty DIYer, Foodie, and Homesteader are just a few of the personalities driven to make their own garlic dills. The only category she missed was Stubborn Fool, but to be fair, we don’t last long at canning. We either morph quickly into a Gadget Gatherer and purchase all the required equipment (and then some), or throw our blistered hands in the air and leave it to the pros.
Being a Foodie at heart, I headed straight to page 230 for the Baco Noir Wine Jelly recipe. I was so excited I summoned my inner Homesteader and made my own apple pectin for the occasion. Turns out I’m too lazy and unorganized to live off the land for long. You need to make the apple pectin at least a day before the jelly and I’m not good at delaying gratification.
As this was my first foray into jelly, I used all of Sarah’s hard-earned clues to determine if the jelly had set. I watched the amount of steam rising from the pot, studied the pattern of the boiling bubbles, tested droplets on a chilled plate and even dusted off my candy thermometer. The final jelly was good enough to eat with a spoon. Which I did.
Scone worthy. Popover worthy. Gift worthy. There may be none left by the time this post goes live.
It was so good, I broke down and made more pectin for the Riesling jelly. My inner Homesteader emerged briefly to run out to the garden and pick the required lavender, rosemary and thyme (the recipe calls for oregano, but I improvised). My Gadget Gather rejoiced as she put her her newly purchased herb infuser, jelly bag and canning funnel to good use. The Foodie loved the results. Everybody wins.
- 1 cup apple pectin
- 1½ cups Baco Noir (or similar dark red wine)
- 1½ tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 2 tsp dried thyme or 6 stems of fresh thyme
- 2¼ cups sugar
- Sterilize jars and warm lids. (Full instructions are included in the book, click here for a details provided by Bernardin.)
- In a wide, deep, non-reactive pot with a thick bottom, combine apple pectin, wine and lemon juice.
- Put the pepper and thyme into a jelly bag and immerse it in the pot, then bring the liquid to a boil, skimming off foam that rises to the surface. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Skim the mixture again, then remove the seasonings and add the sugar, stirring well until the sugar dissolves completely.
- Turn the heat up and bring the mixture to a full, rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring frequently and skimming foam if necessary, until it reaches the setting point. (To be 100% accurate, use a candy thermometer and cook until the jelly reaches 220°F.)
- Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Seal with warm lids and process for 10 minutes at a rolling boil.
- Remove the canner lid, turn off the heat, and allow the jars to sit in the hot water for another 5 minutes to cool down.
For White Wine Jelly: substitute Riesling or a similar light white wine for the red. Replace the 2 teaspoons dried thyme with 1 teaspoon each of dried lavender, rosemary and oregano.
This recipe is excerpted with permission from We Sure Can: How Jams and Pickles are Reviving the Lure and Lore of Local Food by Sarah B. Hood. Published by Arsenal Pulp Press © 2011.
Review in Brief
Who this will appeal: All different kinds of canners, even those who are just curious and want to give it a try. There is something for everyone — and I mean everyone. Sarah B. Hood pulls her recipes from all across North America, so whether your palate turns to savoury or sweet, you’re sure to find a preserve or two that appeals.
Must make recipes: Normally a few recipes jump out at me, but with this book I just couldn’t decide. So I asked the author, who kindly obliged. Sarah said she might have picked the Baco Noir Wine or Chive Blossom Jelly, but settled on the following:
- Strawberry Jam with balsamic vinegar and black pepper by Alec Stockwell, because it’s delicious and so well expresses the classic French tradition of jam making.
- Fig, lemon and lavender marmalade by Gloria Nichol of Laundryetc., whose jam book Fruits of the Earth is so wonderful. It’s unexpetdely tasty with cheese.
- Tomato sauce, because it’s one of the most thrifty recipes,and also because it really is a great way to preserve a seasonal flavour into the winter.
Biggest surprise: The absolutely brilliant — and I mean brilliant — inside cover flap. This easy-to-access area is reserved for cheat sheets covering the two most important aspects of all the recipes inside: Sterilizing Jars and Processing Food in Jars. No more hopping back and forth between the recipe and special instructions buried deep within the text. It’s right there for you. Brilliant. Wish I’d thought of that.
And once your perfectly set jam is sealed and cooled? Crafty DIYers will love the label, wrapping and gift idea section.