Champagne jelly, that is. It’s only appropriate to feature such a thing at this time of year, right? Of course. But before I go any further, let me just brag a bit- this jelly is a:
I made that image right there, just to brag. Can you tell I’m proud? And yes, you read that right, these jars are a Pimp That Preserve 2011 winner! Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Or in this case, champagne dinner? Whatever. So what does this mean? It means I pretty much rock the monkey. To quote the father from A Christmas Story, “It’s a major award!”
Anyway, enough bragging- let’s get to the jelly. Last year I did champagne cupcakes. They were awesome-sauce, but I hate repeats. Being that I was looking for a special New Years’ Eve snack or treat, I once again reached for that book that provided me with that deliciously amazing tea jelly; Canning For a New Generation by Liana Krissoff. In the book (which I love) she has a fantastic recipe for champagne jelly, and after the rousing success of the tea version, how could I not try it? Plus… it is New Years’ after all. What else would one have today but champagne.
The golden color was just so pretty. Actually, more like stunning. But let me make a confession- I used a dry white wine, not champagne.
*gasp* I know, I know. I kinda lied & misled you. But since all my jars went so quickly, I plan on making it again very soon with real champagne (perhaps Cold Duck, just to get that pretty magenta color) but it doesn’t really matter either way, the flavor would be so similar at any rate. When added to the sugar, the difference probably wouldn’t even be noticeable. The wine I used was a dry, medium-sweet fruity wine called ‘Sweet Romance’ from the Mount Hope Winery in PA. The ‘Vidal Blanc’ they sell would’ve been amazing to use as well; it’s far drier & has a slight herbal taste. I used this wine that had been sitting in between the Jameson & the Stoli for over 3 years, waiting for its time to shine for a few reasons; one, back in 2008 when I bought it on a trip to PA I was more of a white wine fan- however I’ve grown to love reds & so haven’t had the urge for white in ages, two, I knew it was good wine so it wouldn’t fuck up my jelly, and finally three… this poor bottle was sitting, waiting for a special moment, for literally 27 months. Every other bottle we bought that day is long gone. It was time for this one to shine.
And shine it does. But any champagne would do smashingly, too, of course. I wouldn’t use the Cristal or even the Veuve Clicquot in this, personally, I’d save that for drinking. A cheap yet decent quality champagne is fine. The dryness is what makes the jelly so interesting, so if it’s extra dry, then great.
By the way, I write this with the assumption that you know basic canning principles & practices. If not, please read this in its entirety before attempting it. It’s not difficult but you do need some “equipment” & knowledge before you begin.
- 1 (750 mℓ) bottle champagne, sparkling white or rosé or any dry-ish white wine
- 3 ¼ cups sugar
- 3 cups green apple pectin stock (see recipe here) or 1 package Certo liquid pectin
- ¼ cup strained fresh lemon juice
- Prepare for water bath canning: Sterilize the jars and keep them hot (in water) in the canning pot, put a small plate in the freezer, and put the flat lids in a heatproof bowl.
- Boil the champagne/wine over high heat until reduced to about two cups, about 20 minutes.
- Stir the pectin/pectin stock, lemon juice and sugar into the champagne. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture registers about 220° F on a candy thermometer or a small dab of it passes the freezer test (place some on the frozen plate and put back in the freezer for one minute, then remove; if the mixture wrinkles when you nudge it, it’s ready), about 25-30 minutes.
- Ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the bowl with the lids. Using a jar lifter, remove the jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the water from each one back into the pot, and place them upright on a clean, folded dish towel. Drain the water off the jar lids.
- Ladle the hot jelly into the jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid & band on each jar, adjusting the band so it’s fingertip tight.
- Return the jars to the canning pot in a canning rack, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes to process. Remove the jars to the folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours, except to check the seal after one hour by pressing down on the center of each lid; if it can be pushed down it hasn’t sealed, and must be refrigerated immediately. After 12 hours, label sealed jars & store.
After Pimp That Preserves, I find myself dressing my jars up in appropriate garb more often now. I think it’s very cute, plus you never know when someone will need to receive a jar.. & it’s nice to get something that looks as special as it tastes. I entered this lovely photoset in that contest back in early December. And uh, like I may have mentioned, I WON.
I bought a gold wire-edged ribbon with sparkles that I thought embodied not only champagne but New Year’s. I just cut a length of it for each jar, gathered & stitched it together with a few tiny stitches, then I pinned or sewed on a specific little charm or trinket. The snowflake is a brooch, the recipient can remove it & wear it. The other sparkly one is a charm that can be removed & worn on a necklace (& it’s not as pink as it looks in the bottom picture, it’s bright & clear, like in the first). The little champagne bottle is a cupcake topper. I sent my mother’s friend Mara the snowflake jar with instructions that once the jar is opened, she can wear the brooch. I think that sorta thing is nice. Ultra-personal. Of course I had to label them in style too.
It did in fact make 5 half-pint jars, but I kept two plain for my own use & decorated the rest for giving (& photographing). I don’t need to dress up my own jars. Sitting in my pantry they don’t get many flashbulbs going off. I’d rather make ’em fancy when they’re going to a good home. I did end up sending one of the plain jars to Heather, so now I have just one extra jar left. And I think my friend Miss Melanie will end up with that one, since she seemed so enthused about it on Facebook. So my last, lonely little bottle of white wine from Pennsylvania ended up in New York, not to mention Florida & Texas reincarnated (& loved) as a delicious jelly. Talk about a “new start.”
I’ll be honest: 2011 sucked in a lot of ways, & I’m happy to bid her a not-so-fond farewell. But Cupcake Rehab has grown a lot this year, as have I, & that’s never a bad thing. I lost important people to me, but gained some. I expanded my knowledge in many areas, formed some new skills. It was a bittersweet year in too many ways to count. So many people have passed away, so many babies born. But new opportunities & new reasons for happiness are bound to come with the new year & therefore new reasons to be optimistic. That’s the best part- the mistakes & sorrows of last year are just that, & while they never really disappear, there’s hope for this new clean slate we’ve been given. I’m going to try & be more forgiving this year, however I’ll certainly not be a doormat. Life is short, why hold grudges or waste time or negative emotions or negative people? It’s a lot for me to strive for, I know that. Especially since I hate everyone (almost). But like I said… clean slate. One thing I will not be doing is cleaning up my potty mouth. I like my truck driver vocabulary. But I am going to make a conscious effort to weed out the unnecessary items & people in my life in 2012 and focus on only the necessary. Good riddance, ’11, here’s hoping 2012 is a far better- and healthier- year for all!
Happy New Year to all my readers, the old & loyal and the new & hopefully just as loyal alike. I really value every reader & commenter & “fan”; & I’ll continue to work very hard to make sure that you’re all still interested & not bored in the new year. Now let’s ring in this new year & enjoy some hooch like these two lovebirds… I’ll see you next year.