Hard cider jelly… yes please!

When (if ever) is it appropriate to quote Destiny’s Child when posting a jelly recipe? Just asking for a friend.

“I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly”: A few months ago, the folks at Woodchuck Hard Cider asked me to create some recipes with their ciders. They sent me a bunch of different ones to sample & create with, and when I got them it was so hot out I couldn’t even think of cooking. So, I made a cocktail. And it was delicious.

But now that it’s fall, and it’s apple-time, I started thinking about those other ciders. And I thought, “Why not make a hard cider jelly?” I did it with champagne, Guinness, and tea (twice! No- three times!), so why the hell not use a hard apple cider?

Jelly made from Woodchuck hard apple cider.

The first thing I did was figure out which of the two apple ciders I wanted to use: red apple amber or Granny Smith. I decided ultimately on the red apple (I have other plans for the Granny Smith, don’t you worry).. mainly because I had red apples in the house and it felt more September-ish.

Then, I did a little research. Turns out there’s only one successful recipe out there that I could find for a hard cider jelly- and it’s from Hitchhiking to Heaven. She used a black currant cider, which gave her a beautiful color to the jelly. She also used more cider- I only had about 2 cups to work with, otherwise known as one bottle.

Woodchuck hard apple cider jelly.

And so I adapted my recipe from hers. I’ve done that before, her recipes are excellent. And if you choose to use the Granny Smith flavor, or a flavor other than red apple, I’m sure it’ll be excellent as well. You don’t even have to use apple hard cider- any kind of hard cider, like pear, will work.

WOODCHUCK HARD APPLE CIDER JELLY (adapted from a recipe at Hitchhiking to Heaven)

Makes 20 ounces of jelly; two half-pint (8-oz.) jars & one 4-oz. jar

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups hard apple cider (or one bottle of Woodchuck hard cider)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (I prefer to use bottled but it’s your call)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Sure-Jell pectin

Directions:

  1. Sterilize your jars- I like to sterilize them in the dishwasher & keep them in there, hot, until I need them.
  2. Pour your hard cider into a medium saucepan and add the lemon juice. Pour the sugar into a separate bowl.
  3. Thoroughly mix 1/2 cup of the sugar with the pectin in another small bowl and set aside.
  4. Bring the cider and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, then stir in the pectin-sugar mixture. Bring it up to a hard rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t settle down when you stir it). At this point, if you have any pectin clumps, mash them down with a wooden spoon.
  5. Quickly add the remaining sugar and bring the entire mixture back to a hard boil. Boil for exactly 1 minute: no more, no less. Keep stir constantly and use your spoon to break up any pectin lumps.
  6. Remove from heat and skim any foam. If you still have any clumps of undissolved pectin, then pour/ladle the jelly through a strainer into your jars. Otherwise, just ladle or pour the jelly into your sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space.
  7. Wipe the jar rims and secure your lids. Add the bands, tightening only to fingertip tight.
  8. Process in a water-bath canner for 5 minutes (or according to your altitude).

Hard cider jelly made with Woodchuck cider.

DO NOT DOUBLE OR TRIPLE THIS RECIPE. If you’d like to make more than three little jars, then make it in batches. I promise you will regret it & your jelly will not set. You can’t double or triple jelly recipes, it just doesn’t work.

Now I’m sure we all know the difference between jam & jelly, and I’m sure we all know what jelly is supposed to look like: clear, translucent, and thick, holds it’s shape and jiggles when shaken. That’s the textbook look of jelly right there. And the hue is lovely… however depending on the kind of cider you use, that will differ.

Easily holds itself up, but also spreads easily. Thanks, pectin!*

Woodchuck hard apple cider jelly!

This jelly is tart, sweet and definitely alcoholic. No- the alcohol does not cook out. Perfect with a slice of Vermont sharp cheddar or even on one of those fancy schmancy flavored crackers (like maybe Milton’s!). I won’t tell you it’s not excellent stirred into vanilla flavored seltzer, either.

Or stirred into brandy. Or bourbon.

Woodchuck hard apple cider jelly.

Something like this makes an awesome holiday gift; so if you’re planning on visiting family for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you might wanna think about making some to bring along as a hostess gift or stocking stuffer. Or, for part of the appetizers before the meal. A lovely meat & cheese platter with some artisanal honey & hard apple cider jelly would be beautiful.

Woodchuck hard apple cider turned into jelly.

*If you’re clueless as to what pectin is or any of this means, please educate thyself before attempting to make jelly by reading this.

Suggestions for use: Smear it on crackers, serve it with a charcuterie platter, serve with sharp cheddar cheese, stir into a cocktail or seltzer.
Soundtrack: Destiny’s Child – “Bootylicious” (haha, obviously!)
Sources & credits: Red apple amber hard cider; courtesy of Woodchuck hard ciders, all Ball jars; available at freshpreserving.com, dishtowel; Ikea, sterling silver bowl; vintage, Meri Meri canning labels; surlatable.com (they don’t have the exact same ones anymore but they do have these).
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