Can-do! How to Make Homemade Jelly
I am so excited to share this blog with you today! There is something so satisfying about home canning. The idea that you can preserve something delicious at the peak of freshness and enjoy it anytime is simply fantastic. Plus, these gorgeous little jars filled with homemade love make some of the best gifts.
This particular recipe is one of my absolute favorites. Only four simple ingredients, but the end result has an air of chic sophistication. I have been making Wine Jelly for years and I really wanted to shoot a how-to video on the subject of canning. However some of the steps need to be done so quickly, I would need several cameras and a team of professionals to capture it all! Instead I took photos of each step to explain the process. It can be intimidating at first, but once you give it a try you will realize it is not only easy, it is addictive!
2 cups dry red wine
1 package (1 – 3/4 ounce) regular powdered fruit pectin
3 – 1/2 cups honey
1/4 teaspoon butter
In a 4 or 5-quart Dutch oven combine wine and pectin. Cook and stir over high heat until mixture comes to a full rolling boil. Add honey all at once. Return to boiling. Add butter; boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon.
Ladle hot jelly at once into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims, add lids and screw caps. Process jars in a boiling water-canner for 5 minutes, starting when the water returns to boiling. Remove jars; cool on wire racks. Makes 6 to 8 half-pints.
Note: If you do not wish to process the jars, you can ladle the jelly into decorative jars or short tumblers. The jelly will keep in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks.
1) Choose a recipe from a reputable source! This is not a time to guesstimate, be creative or throw in a dash or this or a spoonful of that. In the end, home canning is a science. You want to follow a proper recipe for food safety reasons. I trust anything from Ball, they have been the experts for generations! Also, just this month Better Homes and Gardens released a Special Interest Publication dedicated to the art of canning. Pick up a copy today! In fact, you will even see this recipe for Wine Jelly in the pages of this magazine. It was the $400 winner in BHG’s monthly contest from December 2005 in the “Food Gifts” category. I fell in love with the recipe back then and I am so glad they decided to re-print it.
2) Organize all your ingredients and supplies before you begin. (This also means waiting to sip your wine until after the entire canning process is complete. Don’t drink and can!) I like to have all my supplies clean and ready to go, as well as have all my ingredients pre-measured. This is a time sensitive process and you don’t want to waste precious time when you are in the middle of working.
3) Dress the part! Yes, this is an excuse to wear my adorable new canning apron. (They were selling it at Ralph’s and I just couldn’t resist! There are little jars of strawberry jam and blueberry preserves on the apron – so cute!) In all seriousness you want to make sure your clothes are protected from splatters, you don’t have any dangling sleeves, and your hair is tightly pulled back away from your face. Who wants to open a jar of jelly 4 months from now with a big ‘ol hair in it? Eeewww!
4) Sterilize the jars in a hot water bath. Nobody wants botulism! That is unless you are into that whole Botox thing…
5) Start making your preserved recipe! Here I will show you how to make the Wine Jelly, but at this point you would follow the recipe of your choice. Again, please follow it exactly! Get creative and it might not process properly. I started by combining the wine and pectin. A dry red wine works best for this recipe, but I have also tried a dry white and it was also delicious. Cook and stir over high heat until it comes to a full rolling boil.
6) Add the honey. Return to boiling.
7) Add butter. Boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
8) Skim off foam. Remove from the heat and quickly skim off the foam with a metal spoon. You can see a before and after photo of the skimmed mixture. It actually comes off quite easily but you do need to work quickly.
9) Check the headspace on your jars. A handy ruler comes with many canning kits. This recipe calls for 1/4 inch of headspace on each jar. If you measure in advance you will know how high to fill each jar.
10) Ladle hot jelly into sterilized jars. Use a funnel to do this neatly. Remember to leave 1/4 inch of headspace at the top.
11) Remove any air bubbles. I like to run a clean wooden skewer along the edges to remove any air bubbles that may have formed while filling the jars.
12) Wipe the jar rims. Drips of sticky jelly can make its way on to the rim. Wipe this with a clean cloth so the lids will adhere properly.
13) Add lids and screw on caps. The caps should be secure but not too tight.
14) Process the jars. This is where the magic happens! In this recipe you process the cans for 5 minutes. Other recipes might process for different amounts of time. The water in the canner should be boiling, add the filled jars and then allow the water to return to boiling. Start the timing when the water returns to boiling.
15) Remove jars. Lift the jars out of the canner with the lifter provided in a canning kit. Cool on wire racks. Then comes my favorite moment in this entire process….waiting to hear the pop! Within a few minutes of removing the jars from the water bath, the lids will make a small “pop” sound to indicate the jars have sealed properly. You can check to see if the tops sealed by touching the middle of lid. If it is concave and secure, you are all set! If it pops back when you touch it, the jar did not seal properly. If that is the case, you will have to store the jelly in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks.
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