Thursday, March 18, 2010

It Must Be Jelly Because Alliums Don't Shake Like That! CanJam Episode 3

It's CanJam time again and our flavour of the month is alliums! Leeks, onions, garlic, shallots, I love them all! Garlic, however does not love Colette so that one was out. Ramps are a wonderful spring treat but not yet in season here. We both had very hectic schedules this month so we wanted to do something simple, and in keeping with the challenge aspect we decided it was time to do something other than pickles. Neither of us have much experience making jams and jellies other than jalapeno jelly. So when I came across a fairly easy recipe for Red Onion Jelly it seemed like the perfect choice!


* 3 cups red onions
* 1 1/2 cups apple juice
* 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
* 1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed sage * 1/2 teaspoon pepper
* 4 cups sugar
* 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
* 1 (1 3/4 ounce) package powdered fruit pectin


Peel, quarter and thinly slice red onions. Measure 3 cups into a 6-or-8-quart sauce pot. Stir in apple juice, vinegar, sage and pepper. Measure sugars in a separate bowl. Stir fruit pectin into onion mixture in sauce pot. Over high heat, bring mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in sugars.

Return to a full rolling boil and boil exactly 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.Ladle quickly into hot, sterilized half pint jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with lids. Screw bands tightly.
Process in a boiling water bath for 5 Minutes.
Everything went smoothly until we got to the pectin point and realized that the pectin crystals we had were for freezer jam and were no cook! Not being jam experts we were unsure if this would still work with our recipe and even so we didn't have enough. I had some liquid pectin in the cupboard so we used them both and hoped for the best!
The nice thing about making jelly is the immediacy - we were able to see and sample a jar of our concoction as soon as it cooled. The first thing we noticed was the texture; because the onion pieces were left in the consistency was more what I would consider jam, not jelly. Whichever you call it, the taste was sublime- sweet and rich and savoury. We sampled some with old cheddar which was a very tasty combo so we had to pair it with other cheeses. The sage also made me think it would be delicious with turkey sandwiches, or as a glaze for chicken.

Our knowledge of this type of canning is obviously something we need to work on. The jelly didn't set as firmly as we had hoped- I suspect it was because of the amount of liquid the recipe calls for combined with the liquid pectin. If we were more experienced we probably would have known this and adjusted the amounts, or made sure we had the correct pectin. I would love to try this recipe again and experiment with using other herbs or liquids (red wine in place of apple juice!) but I think we'll have to wait until we've had a bit more practice!

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