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Food Forum

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In & Out of the Kitchen: Homemade wine jelly

My husband was in the mood for a glass of wine and it turned out we had a bottle, stashed on the top shelf of a cupboard, a gift from a dear friend who had come to dinner in the fall.

The only problem was we couldn’t find the corkscrew.

After a bit of rummaging, I found the emergency backup corkscrew as my husband muttered about nothing ever being where it is supposed to be and how the backup corkscrew is inferior to the regular one.

The next problem was that the wine had one of those modern corks made out of an unknown material that is not cork. Whatever it was, it was more than the emergency backup corkscrew could handle. After it sank deep into the noncork, we could do nothing but spin it around. The cork would not come out of the bottle.

So the wine sat for two days on the counter, with the backup corkscrew stuck in the noncork.

Then it was Thanksgiving, and another friend came over with another bottle of wine. By this time, my husband had purchased a replacement corkscrew, and when I showed my friend the nearly opened bottle of wine she agreed to try to remove the backup corkscrew and test out the new corkscrew. It took three of us, but we got the noncork out and my friend poured herself a glass of wine.

She made a face.

“Is it bad?” I asked. I am allergic to red wine so I couldn’t taste it for her, and my husband was outside feeding the animals.

“It’s not bad at all,” she said. “It’s just not what I wanted.”

Put to good use

So we recorked that bottle (with a real cork we had saved from a previous bottle of wine) and my friend opened the bottle she had brought and poured herself a glass.

What to do with an orphan bottle of wine? No problem. I finally had the opportunity to try making something I’ve always wanted to make: wine jelly.

Wine jelly, I’d been told, has a more complex flavor than regular grape jelly and works as well as a glaze on meat or with cheese and crackers as it does at on toast. And jelly is so easy to make, and doesn’t mulled wine jelly sound nice? Once I made some mulled cider jelly, boiling cloves and cinnamon sticks into cider before I turned it into jelly.

I vowed to do the same with the wine.

But first I made some regular wine jelly.

Recipes note that you want to start with a decent bottle of wine. Maybe you don’t want to waste a really fine bottle on jelly, but if the wine isn’t good enough to drink it won’t make a good jelly either.
You’ll need to add pectin, and because of the alcohol you’ll need to boil the wine for longer than you’d boil juice for grape jelly.

So here’s the simple formula:

Wine Jelly

3 1⁄2 cups of wine
Juice of one lemon
4 cups of sugar
1 packet of powdered pectin

If you are canning your jelly, prepare your canning jars (about six half-pint jars) by cleaning and boiling them in a pot large enough that the jars will be totally submerged when standing. You’ll need a jar lifter to get the jars in and out of the pot of boiling water without burning your fingers.
Sterilize the lids and rings in another pot of boiling water.

In a large saucepan, heat the wine, lemon juice and pectin, stirring frequently, until it comes to a full boil. Add all the sugar at once and keep stirring.

When the mixture comes to a really hard, roiling boil, set your timer. Keep the wine mixture boiling for 2 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t pour over the top. Then remove from heat.
If there’s foam on top, skim it off. Then pour the jelly into your prepared jars, wipe off the rims, place the lids on and tighten the rings.

Put the jars back in the boiling water bath, and let the whole thing simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, wait five minutes, and remove jars and don’t touch until they are cooled.

That’s it.

You can adjust the flavor by adding juices — maybe a mixture of 2 1⁄2 cups of wine and 1 cup of cranberry juice or apple cider. You can use berry wines, or white wine or rosé.

And you can add lemon or orange zest, or spices. That’s what I’m going to do next time — add mulling spices and orange zest — for a festive holiday edition.

I hope there’s enough leftover wine.

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