Making Jelly… the Success and the Failure.

It would be easy for me to just show you the awesome jellies I made with a couple of recipes I researched and then experimented with. But, this entry wouldn’t be entertaining without me sharing how I not only made excellent jelly (to my surprise), but how it blew up on me (literally).

R-L: Black Cherry Jelly, Black Cherry Rum Glaze, Pinot Grigio Jelly

As you can see from the image, I did make 3 different jars of jelly… well, one of them was not so much. Here is how it worked out:

I really wanted to play with Alise’s new toy – Ball® FreshTECH Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker. The box itself promises to make jelly or jam in 25 minutes. It is so easy and fun, how could I not want to open the box and make some jelly fun? The first flavor that came to mind was varieties of wine. I used to enjoy a jelly I bought at the store which was made with port. I enjoyed it on sandwiches, but as Alise pointed out it would be good with cheeses too. So the first one I attempted was the Pinot Grigio Jelly. Reading the recipes that came with the machine here is what I saw in general:

3 cups of fruit juice
3 cups of sugar
4 Tablespoons of Pectin
1/2 Teaspoon of Butter (supposedly to keep the froth down)

Now, as you can see I wrote just fruit juice, because in the recipe book for Grape, Pomegranate, Apple, and Plum the amounts were the same. So, my brain said… 3 cups of liquid to all the other ingredients… well, that was a mistake. The machine worked great. Simply put in the ingredients, press the button, and it stirs and finishes with a hot jelly ready to pour into containers. I prepped all the jars following a canning method so that I could keep the product for a long time and possible add it to the inventory for Buttermilk Pastries & Pies since we like things to pair with Alise’s biscuits. Anyway, I poured the jelly into the hot jars, sealed them up, and dropped them into boiling water again to finish the canning process. Based on the instructions, after canning… they would sit on a rake and cool slowly. As it cooled the jelly would then gel up and become that wonderful consistency you expect. Well, I let them sit, and we heard them pop as they cooled indicating canning was done well. After about 3 hours, the jars were cooled to room temperature when Alise decided to check them. She turned the jars over and saw the jelly run like molasses in the jar. So it hadn’t jellied as expected. Also, at this point, I completed a batch of Dark Cherry Rum Jelly. Alise went into research mode to see if I had done something wrong or we needed to wait longer. Guess what: I was wrong. After more research we discovered that to make the pectin work we need a certain level of acidity. But, on the plus side… we learned we could fix our batch not forced to toss it. So, I poured the jelly back into the jelly machine because it mixes the batch perfectly. But this time, I added 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Let’s just sum it up and say… Yes, it worked! We ended up with the product we hoped for in the completed Pinot Grigio Jelly. But… oh, there is always a but…. For the Dark Cherry Run Jelly… we apparently needed more acid, because the product has a very thick yet fluid consistency. It will make a perfect glaze for cakes or a drizzle on different foods. So, that jelly is now labeled as Dark Cherry Rum Glaze. Both are delicious and I have enjoyed it so far and what I have learned… but it doesn’t stop there even though this post will. Catch the next post when I describe how I made the Dark Cherry Jelly with gelatin instead of pectin. Lessons learned: 1. Research thoroughly. 2. Boiling jars for canning means the jars are hot. And, 3. It is fun to play and experiment with food.

Talk to you again soon.