Monday, July 18, 2011
Daddy's Super Basic Jelly Recipe
For the last few weeks Nora has been dying to use her homemade berry bucket to collect berries and then make jelly from them. Only problem has been the lack of berries. On saturday she found some bushes with a few ripe salmonberries and picked them all. I was surprised she found and picked so many, and while it did not look like enough to make jelly (and not all them all that ripe either), I did not have the heart to tell her. And so we were off to the kitchen to make jelly. She was so excited!
I have not made jelly for years but at one time I did make it quite frequently. I remember when I first started to make jelly I was intimidated by the whole process and tried to get everything exactly right. Through trial and error I learned that you can get a lot wrong and still get good jelly. So what follows is my super easy (read lazy) jelly recipe.
NEEDED: Berries, sugar, lemon juice (optional), cheese cloth, pectin, jars and lids (and jar 'tongs').
1) We did not quite have enough berries so I added some frozen blueberries from cost savers to bulk up Nora's haul.
2) I put all the berries in a pot and filled with water so just the tops of the berries were sticking out.
3) And then as Nora puts it - 'Munch, Munch, Munch'. Nora got to thoroughly mash the berries on low heat with a berry masher (we used the thing I use to make mash potatoes with).
4) Bring the berries and water to a simmer and thoroughly crush them one last time.
5) Put some cheese cloth in a big bowl and pour the mixture on top, and then carefully bring the edges of the cheese cloth together on top and tie tightly. Then lift up above the bowl and let drain into the bowl. I tie the bag onto one of my cabinet knobs and let drain into the bowl below. Let drain about 5 minutes or so but DO NOT squeeze the bag (this makes for muddy jelly).
6) Pour juice into measuring cup and then back into pot, and add a little less sugar than you had juice. Then I read from the pectin packet and added the correct proportional amount. I said one packet for every quart of juice - so I added 1/2 a packet for my 2 cups of juice. I also added a little lemon juice to give the jelly some zing.
7) Bring to a boil and stir pretty constantly. Keep a spoon handy and occasionally dip it into the mixture - when the syrup sheets off the spoon you are ready to pour the syrup into the jars. Up until the syrup 'gels' it just drips like normal off of the spoon, but at a certain point it sort of 'double drips' or 'sheets' off of the spoon. Make sure you use a cold spoon every time or your syrup will never seem to gel. I was super intimidated about this when I first made jelly but it is sort of obvious when you do it - and hey if it does not gel up into jelly in the jars (what happens if you do not reach the 'gel' point) - then you got tasty syrup!
8) I have my jars resting in an inch or so of lightly boiling water and remove them with tongs. I then fill each jar up to a 1/4 inch or so of the top. Clean the rims with a damp towel and put the seals and ring on the jars. I then put the jars back in the water (I used my pressure cooker which has a plate on the bottom to keep the jars from touching the bottom). I poured more hot water to cover the jars with an inch or so of water and brought it to a boil. I let it boil for 15 minutes to sterilize and seal the jars and then took the jars out with my 'jar picker upper' that I use to remove hot jars from my canner. You may want to get one of these.
And that's it! Nora (and Zoya) were super happy with the finished product and Nora is taking jars of jelly with her to Grandmother's house this week. I think I know what she is going to make for Christmas presents. Patrick