Have you ever wondered what to do with leftover wine or perhaps a bottle that didn't quite suit your taste? I know I have been in this predicament a few times. It's a shame to pour it out, so what do you do with it? How about make some wine jelly? The procedure is simple, and it will yield a flavorful product that can accompany a variety of cheeses, meats, and charcuterie boards. Or, if you're like me, enjoy it on a cream scone or slice of sourdough toast with a cup of tea. YUM!
Recently, I opened a bottle of champagne and didn't like the taste so I decided to use it to make wine jelly. I chose the Herbes de Provence Wine Jelly recipe from the Ball® Complete Book of Home Preserving 2012 edition. Since I used champagne instead of still white wine (my champagne was flat) and dried lavender for the Herbes de Provence, the variation I made is called Lavender Wine Jelly.
First, before starting any preservation project, make sure your workspace is very clean, including all equipment. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before you begin. Next, gather your supplies.
Then, measure your ingredients using appropriate utensils for the job. Use dry measuring tools for non-liquid ingredients and liquid measuring tools for liquids, of course!
Next, wash all your jars, lids, and rings and prepare them according to the manufacturer's recommendations. As you can see from the photo, I use reusable lids for my canning projects. Single use lids work very well too.
Pour your measured wine into a stainless-steel pot and add the dried culinary lavender.Note: Make sure the variety of lavender you are using is meant to be used in cooking. Not all lavender is created equally.
Bring the lavender and wine to a boil, cover, and remove from the heat and allow to steep for 20 minutes.
After steeping, I transferred the liquid using a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth set over a deep bowl and let it drip for several minutes. You can also use a dampened jelly bag for this step. You will need 1 ¾ cups of infused wine. You may need to squeeze the cheesecloth or jelly bag to get enough liquid.
Meanwhile, heat your jars in your atmospheric steam canner or boiling water canner. I use a steam canner, when possible, to minimize the amount of needed water for processing and ease of use. The processing time is the same as for a boiling water canner. Recipes must require less than 45 minutes of processing time and be considered a high acid food in order to be safely canned in an atmospheric steam canner.
Transfer the steeped wine into a large stainless-steel pot. As you can see, my wine turned a beautiful rose color thanks to the newly dried lavender pigment.
Stir in the sugar all at once.
Bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down and stir in the pectin.
Boil hard for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and quickly skim off the foam.
Quickly pour the hot jelly into the hot jars removing air bubbles and adjusting headspace to ¼ inch. Wipe jar rim and lid your jar.
Apply the jar ring and load into the canner.
Process these jars in a boiling water canner or atmospheric steam canner for 10 minutes. Remove jars from the canner after the recommended wait time and allow to cool for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, check seals, remove rings, and store in a dark cool place. Make sure to place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator to enjoy right away.
This recipe is such fun and doesn't require the longer preparation time that other jelly recipes do. Enjoy this during the upcoming holidays or enjoy now during the warmer months as part of a charcuterie board, or just pair it with a wedge of brie cheese and your favorite cracker. Either way, you'll always want to have some in the pantry! It also makes a great gift!
Lavender Wine Jelly
2 cups dry white wine
1 Tbsp. dried culinary lavender
2 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch (3oz.) liquid pectin
- In a large stainless-steel saucepan combine wine and lavender. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 20 minutes.
- Transfer to a dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth set over a deep bowl. Let drip undisturbed, for 20 minutes. Measure 1 ¾ cups infused wine. If you do not have the required amount, squeeze the bag.
- Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars, and lids according to manufacturer recommendations.
- Transfer infused wine to a clean, large, deep stainless-steel saucepan. Stir in sugar.
- Stirring constantly over high heat, bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Stir in pectin. Boil hard, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam.
- Quickly pour hot jelly into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met then increase to fingertip tight, or according to manufacturer directions for reusable lids.
- Place jars in canner and process for 10 minutes. Once process is complete, remove jars according to canner type after recommended wait time (5 minutes for boiling water canner), and cool for 24 hours. Label jars with contents and date of preparation and store in a cool, dark place.
UC Master Food Preservers do not endorse or promote any brand of products.
- Author: Saoimanu Sope
UC Master Food Preservers give live canning demonstrations at Orange County Fair
If you visited the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa during the past month, you might have seen the Master Food Preservers of Orange County in their rustic farmhouse-themed kitchen located in the OC Promenade exhibit hall.
If the decor did not catch your eye, the colorful rows of glass jars lined along the walls certainly would have. For an entire month, three volunteers conducted live canning demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. five days a week. They are with the UC Master Food Preserver Program, a public service and outreach program under UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The OC Fair is UC Master Food Preserver's largest event in Orange County. Last year, the UC Master Food Preservers engaged 7,000 people at their booth.
Food preservation has a deep history rooted in human survival. Whether freezing, drying, fermenting or pickling, preservation is a practice that has prolonged the life of food and humans. Other benefits include reducing food waste and increasing food security.
The latest form of preservation, called canning, was introduced in the early 1800s according to a Smithsonian article. By placing food in a glass jar and heating it to a certain temperature for a prescribed period of time, oxygen is removed and a vacuum is created. This process prevents the growth of undesirable bacteria, yeasts and molds, thus keeping the food from spoiling.
This is what you would have found the UC Master Food Preservers demonstrating at the OC Fair.
During her shift, Flo Vallejo, UC Master Food Preserver since 2018, carefully chopped carrots and daikon into thin slices and placed them inside small mason jars with spices inspired by Vietnamese cuisine.
“This is something my great-grandmother, grandmother and mother did. I never understood it because they didn't let the little kids in the kitchen,” said first-year UC Master Food Preserver Alice Houseworth.
Many of the UC Master Food Preservers have some experience with canning, whether it be a practice passed down from generation to generation, or, in Houseworth's case, something they watched their elders do as a child.
Esa Kiefer, another UC Master Food Preserver since 2018, expressed her concern for the rising prices of food and decline in arable land. “I feel like now is the time to prepare for these changing times,” she said. “Who knows what the future will look like for food?”
Perhaps the future of food will come from glass jars.
“You can even can chicken,” Houseworth said. “When it's cheap at the grocery store, you can buy it and use the pressure canner and then eat it when chicken prices go up.”
Vallejo recalls when pickling and canning were trending on social media during the stay-at-home phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, making it difficult to find mason jars.
“Preservation has been done for a long time. When I saw a lot of people doing it during the pandemic, I thought it was just because people had time on their hands. But I realized that many became concerned about the food supply and accessibility,” she explained.
The resurgence in food preservation interest makes the work of the UC Master Food Preserver program much more essential. Whether you are feeding a large family, living in a food desert or managing a tight budget, food preservation ensures you are fed today, tomorrow and beyond.
To learn more about the Master Food Preserver Program or to locate the nearest program in your area, visit: https://mfp.ucanr.edu/.
- Author: Jennifer Codron, UC Master Food Preserver
- Editor: Shannon A Klisch, Academic Coordinator II
- Editor: Maria E Murietta, Master Food Preserver Program Coordinator
It's that time of year again! The dominant variety of apricots, Blenheim, that have a short season here on the Central Coast, have arrived. I used to have a Royal apricot tree in my yard and made delicious jam every year. Unfortunately, it contracted a fungal disease and slowly lost its limbs one by one which ended my annual tradition of making jam.
Last year, I wanted to bring this jam making tradition back so now I purchase my Blenheim apricots from my local farmer's market. The farmers there have been growing apricots for years and they have some of the tastiest ones around.
First, gather your ingredients and canning supplies. This recipe makes about nine 8-ounce jars and you will need 8 cups chopped and pitted apricots, 4 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 6 cups granulated sugar. Make sure your cooking space is clean and wash your hands.
I decided on a simple no-pectin recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (2006) so the pure delicious flavor of the apricots could shine through.
I like to listen to music while I jam, mostly bluegrass, but any music will enhance your experience and help pass the long minutes of stirring the pot when you choose the long boil, no pectin method.
I washed and dried and chopped the apricots, removing any blemishes and getting rid of any damaged pieces. You want a mix of about ¾ ripe to ¼ under-ripe apricots since the latter contain more natural pectin to help the jam set. Prepare fruit in small batches, just enough for one recipe for best results. For my second batch, I chopped the apricots in smaller pieces and ended up with more fruit in my recipe.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, lemon juice and the apricots. I let this mixture sit for about a half hour as the fruit begins to release its juices and starts to form a syrup. This helps prevent sticking as you heat the mixture over medium heat.
Add 6 cups of granulated sugar.
Add 4 Tablespoons of lemon juice. The juice needs to be from a bottle purchased at the store. This is a guarantee that the juice will have the right pH, at least 4.5 percent acidity whereas freshly picked lemons can vary in their pH.
Add the 8 cups of chopped apricots. Although the recipe calls for peeling the apricots, I leave the skins on and end up with a smooth jam.
Stir the pot occasionally to help the sugar dissolve and keep the mixture from sticking. Once the mixture has broken down and begins to thicken you need to stir constantly as it boils. This is where your favorite music or a good podcast comes into play.
I decided to use the temperature test since it is the most accurate way to see if the gel stage of the jam has been reached (Ball Book, 2006, pg. 21). After cooking for an hour, the jam reached only 210 degrees, so I decided to try the sheet test with a spoon that had been in the freezer for several minutes. The jam came off the spoon in sheets, so I decided to ladle into the hot jars. The second batch of jam did reach 220 degrees after only about 45 minutes as I boiled this one a little harder. Interestingly, the first batch which was cooked longer turned a darker shade of orange while the second batch was brighter.
Spoon or sheet test: Dip a cool metal spoon into the boiling jam. Lift the spoon up and out of the steam so it starts to fall off the spoon. If the jam forms light and syrupy drips, keep boiling. If the jam comes off in one sheet, the jam is ready to place into hot jars.
Ladle the hot jam into half-pint jars leaving a ¼ inch headspace. Use a debubbler or chopstick to release any air bubbles that may have formed.
This jam is very sticky so make sure the rim is wiped clean with a damp paper towel before placing the lid on the jar.
Place the lids on the rims and screw on the bands just until fingertip tight.
Set filled jars onto a canning rack and submerge into a water bath canner with 2-3 inches of water covering the tops of the jars. Bring to a full rolling boil and process for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn off heat, remove the lid and let the jars stand in the canner for 5 minutes before removing the jars to a clean towel on your counter. Be sure not to tip the jars as you are removing them as the mixture could bubble under the lid and cause the lids not to seal properly.
Let the jars stand 24 hours before checking that they are sealed properly. Place any unsealed jars into the refrigerator immediately. Store jars in a cool dark location after removing the bands. By removing the bands, you will be able to notice if at any time during storage the lids become unsealed and thus not edible.
To remove water stains on lids before marking the type and date of jam, take a cloth dipped in vinegar and wipe the lid.
In the second batch I made, I placed one cinnamon stick to add a little flavor. You can also add a vanilla bean or the apricot kernels in a stainless-steel tea strainer to compliment the flavor of the apricots. You can safely add up to 1 teaspoon of flavoring or herb to a jam or jelly recipe.
Because the Blenheim apricot season is so short, making jam is a great way to savor this flavor year-round and your friends will be happy when you bring over a jar of this delicious fruit. Enjoy!
Apricot Jam Recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving copyright 2006, page 22.
Many students are experienced food preservers, creating delicious jams and jellies for their family and friends. It's exciting to see the ah-ha moments when I explain and discuss the reasons behind the research-based preservation techniques UC Master Food Preservers teach. Just because grandma or mom did something and no one got sick, does not mean that the process is safe by today's standards.
The traditional method of preserving jams and jellies was to cook the product, put it in a sterile jar, and either pour melted paraffin wax on top or put a lid on then turn the jar upside down to force a seal. Each method has its own set of food safety concerns.
Using paraffin wax to create a barrier between the jam or jelly and the surrounding environment was fairly effective as long as the product was stored in a consistently cool place, such as a root cellar. Not many of us have the luxury of a root cellar. Unfortunately, if the storage temperature of the jar fluctuates, the wax contracts with cold temperature (letting in pathogens and – in my country house – ants) and then expands with warm temperatures to trap the undesirables in the product beneath the wax.
If there was mold under the wax, it was a common practice to scrape it off since it only appeared to be on the surface. We know better now. Molds don't just grow on the surface, they can create carcinogenic toxins (mycotoxins) that remain in the food, invisible to the human eye.
Another common canning practice was to sterilize the jars, fill almost to the top with hot jam or jelly, put the lids on, and turn the jars upside down to force out the air and create a vacuum seal. This is open kettle canning. This method made a more consistent barrier than wax, but there is still a common potential problem with the food inside the jar: there is no guarantee you destroyed all food borne pathogens and spoilage organisms.
When we boil jam and jelly in a cooking pot, we still don't reach a high enough temperature to destroy all spoilage and food poisoning organisms. Plus, the air is filled with floating microorganisms trapped in the jar when we add a lid. When we process a jar of jam or jelly in a boiling water or atmospheric steam canner, there's enough of an increase in the temperature within the jar to destroy the pathogens and enough of a pressure increase to force air out of the jar. When we remove the jars from the canner, the pressure equalizes and the vacuum seal forms over pathogen-free food.
Often people don't realize the purpose of adding (so much!) sugar to a jam and jelly isn't just to add sweetness. Sugar preserves the food and partners with the pectin to form the gel.
When I teach about the purpose of sugar in a jam or jelly, I have students (youth and adult) act out what happens in a jar of jam. Three volunteers at the front of the room represent water, sugar, and pathogens (the bad guy). Foodborne pathogens need water to grow, so if the pathogens have access to the food's water (the water and pathogen volunteers link arms), the pathogens do what they're supposed to do: grow mold, slime, fuzz – all that disgusting stuff you find growing in the containers shoved at the back of your fridge. We need to separate the water in food from the pathogens, so we bring in sugar. At a molecular level, the sugar molecules bind with the water molecules (the water volunteer now links arms with the sugar volunteer, leaving the pathogen volunteer off to the side). This bonding lowers the water activity of the food, making the water unavailable to the pathogen (private party by invitation only). The pathogen wants to join the food party but the sugar acts as a bodyguard, keeping the pathogen away from the food's water and preventing the pathogen from growing (the sugar volunteer blocks the pathogen volunteer from getting near the water volunteer). That's how sugar preserves the jam and jelly.
But what if you want to have a low sugar jam or jelly (aka fruit spread)? First, use a pectin and recipe designed for low-sugar to get a good gel. (Low-sugar pectin uses calcium instead of sugar to make the gel. Regular pectin uses sugar to make the gel, so if you just cut the amount of sugar, you'll make a delicious runny syrup.) Second, process the fruit spread in a boiling water or atmospheric steam canner to destroy the microorganisms. While the jar is sealed, nothing will grow. Unfortunately, once you open the jar, there isn't enough sugar to prevent microorganisms from growing (you have a tiny sugar bodyguard). Even stored in the refrigerator, mold forms within a couple of weeks and you need to toss the fruit spread. I always recommend canning low-sugar fruit spread in small 4-ounce jars to make it easy to finish using the product before it molds.
Knowing why current canning recommendations work is key to ensuring the jams and jellies we serve to our friends and family are safe to consume. UC Master Food Preservers rely on the National Center for Home Food Preservation for their information; you can, too!
For more information about the UC Master Food Preserver Program, including the Food Preservation Video Library, visit mfp.ucanr.edu.
- Author: Sherida Phibbs, UCCE Master Food Preserver/Master Gardener of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties
Recently there has been increasing interest and desire to grow and preserve our own produce. In addition, there has been an increase of health-conscious families turning to WFPB lifestyles. This UC Davis article explains the differences between vegan and WFPB diets.
Home food preservation is a natural accompaniment to this lifestyle, however, misconceptions about the benefits of home canning are often overlooked for the WFBP lifestyle and therefore not utilized. There is a misconception that preserved canned fruits are loaded with sugar. Unlike vegan diets, WFPB diets do not include sugar, however, WFPB diets do include raw honey if sweeteners are desired. The UC Davis Integrative Medicine article, The real truth about sugar, supports the choice to preserve fruits without the addition of sugar. And, although unprocessed foods are encouraged, minimally processed foods like home preserving, is acceptable. Here is a great article from UC Davis Integrative Medicine - What about processed foods?
Beans are a protein staple for the WFPB lifestyle. A UC Davis Integrative Medicine article explains Why beans are best and are a healthful choice for a meal or a snack. Home canning beans saves time and money. This UCCE video by Dustin Blakey is an excellent demonstration for pressure canning beans. By following the recipe in the book So Easy to Preserve, for pressure canning beans, my beans always come out safe and perfect. Before serving, I bring the beans to a boil for 10 minutes and season for my desired taste.
Being a certified UC Master Gardener provided me the skills and knowledge to successfully grow my own produce. I often referr to my garden as “My Victory Garden for Health.” All the produce that is not eaten fresh is either canned, dehydrated or frozen using skills I learned as a UC Master Food Preserver.
We grew a large 4' x 16' bed of onions. Some onions were dehydrated, which was a great advantage. Snap peas, bush beans, asparagus, beets for pickling, carrots, tomatoes, and sweet corn were either pressure canned, blanched or frozen. Vegetable soup was made and canned using the So Easy to Preserve instructions.
I am not advocating that this lifestyle is for everyone since after almost one year I found my way to a hybrid form of WFPB. However, I will continue to use my UC Master Food Preserver skills to home preserve produce that is sugar free and healthy, knowing that my home preserved food is safe since I have followed recipes and procedures tested for home food preservation.
For more information about the UC Master Food Preserver Program, including the Food Preservation Video Library, visit mfp.ucanr.edu.