One of my favorite things about the holidays is that it gives me a great excuse to do all sorts of cooking that I can then give away as gifts. Every year, I prepare goody bags for family members. A lot of these recipes I have highlighted in my "Gift Ideas" section of this site and some of the others are forthcoming. This year, I included granola, chocolate cubed cookies, lemon jellies, pumpkin bread, butter toffee, and gingerbread men. For the kids, I included lollipops. For the adults, I included two kinds of jelly. One is this lovely sangria jelly. The other is a margarita jelly which I will post in the not too distant future.
I love making jelly to give as gifts. Of course, some are easier to make than others. Making jelly, with its crystal clear beauty, can be time consuming depending on the fruit being used. Some jellies can't be made at certain times of the year due to the lack of fresh fruit. That's why I especially like to make unusual jellies like this one which use mostly bottled or readily available juices and wine. I previously posted one of my favorite jellies to make, wine jelly. This recipe is a variant of that one. It still uses a bottle of wine, but it includes some fresh citrus juice, which moderates the wine flavor a bit. Its flavor is reminiscent of a gorgeous glass of sangria and it is just as beautiful.
This is a jelly that is quick and easy to make and is always appreciated as a gift. In fact, I can usually make a batch, start to finish, in less than half and hour.
The first step is to be sure you have all of your equipment set out ready to go. Here, you can see the jars I used. The jars should be washed but do not need to be sterilized since you will be processing them in a water bath. If you need a refresher on canning processes, go back and take a look at my Canning 101 post. The other equipment that should be handy is a jar lifter, jar funnel, small pan with hot water and tongs to warm the lids, a pot for cooking the jelly, and a large kettle for the water bath. What I really love about canning jelly recipes is that they typically make small amounts in small jars, which means I don't have to drag out my huge canning kettle; I can simply use a small stock pot. Don't forget to add a splash of vinegar to the water to keep your jars from ending up with mineral residue on them.
You will first gently heat the wine, triple sec, orange and lemon juices in a large pot. Remember, hot sugar syrups expand quite a bit when cooking, so give yourself plenty of room. When the mixture is warm, add the sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Be careful not to overheat this jelly or it may end up with a slightly bitter taste. When the mixture is just about at a simmer, remove the pan from the heat and add the pectin. Stir completely and remove any foam that may have formed on the surface.
Pour into the jars, leaving a quarter inch head space. Wipe the rims, and use the screw bands to hold the hot lids in place. Process in a water bath for ten minutes. Remove water bath from heat and let sit five minutes before removing jars from the water. This last step helps to keep hot jelly from oozing out of the jars which can happen if they are removed too suddenly from a hot water bath. Let jars sit 24 hours before removing screw bands to clean the jars for storage.
Yield: 8 half-pint jars
Adapted from Blue Ribbon Preserves by Linda J. Amendt
3 cups pinot noir wine (or similar)
1/2 cup strained orange juice
1/4 cup strained lemon juice
1/4 cup triple sec liquor (or similar)
6 cups granulated sugar
2 3-ounce packets of liquid pectin
Heat the wine, juices, and liquor in a large pan over medium heat until it is warm. Add the sugar and stir, heating gently, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Heat until the mixture is almost to a simmer. Be careful not to overheat this jelly as it may develop a bitter flavor. Remove the pan from the heat and add the two packets of pectin, stirring completely. Skim off any foam and pour into eight 8-ounce jelly jars. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel and screw on hot lids and bands.
Process in a water bath canner for ten minutes. Remember to only start timing once the water has returned to a boil. When the ten minutes is up, remove the canner from the heat and let the jars sit in the water for five minutes before removing jars from the canner to a towel lined counter. Let the jars sit undisturbed for 24-hours before removing screw bands and cleaning the outside of the jars, if necessary.