Plum Sauce

mmmm plums. Last year I posted another plum sauce recipe, which was also delicious, but keeping with my desire to make every recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, I decided to try their recipe this year. The only thing I changed from what’s in Ball is to add allspice, and remove some of the sugar. Make it with a mix of plum varieties for extra fun sauce!

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10 cups chopped pitted plums
3/4 cups finely chopped onion
2 tbsp chopped seeded chili pepper
1 cup cider vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar (optional in my opinion)
2 tbsp mustard seeds (I used 1 ish tbsp ground)
1 tbsp salt
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp finely chopped gingerroot
1/2 tsp allspice

To make it:

Dice the plums, pepper, onions, ginger, and garlic finely and combine everything except the plums in a large pot and bring to a boil. I thought 3 total cups of sugar sounded like too much, so left out the white sugar and decided I’d taste it and add in later if I wanted it sweeter. I didn’t end up adding in though, it’s plenty tasty without, so consider reducing it if you want a less sweet sauce; Ball tends to make things quite sweet.

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Add the diced plums and return to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to simmer for a few hours, until it reaches a good plum sauce consistency. When you are getting close, prepare 4 pint jars, or 8 half pints.

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Here it is reduced by about half, a few hours later.

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Fill hot jars, leaving a half inch head space. Wipe rims, apply lids, and tighten finger tip tight. Process in a boiling water bath canner, covered by at least 1-2 inches of water, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn off heat, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, and remove jars to a hot pad or towel. Cool, check seals, label, and store.

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Gorgeous!! And tasty.

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Chocolate Raspberry Sundae Topper

Raspberries are, in the view of many people I know, so precious that it’s hard to even want to preserve them; it’s best to just gorge on them until your tongue hurts, and eat them fresh while they are in season. I can totally understand that perspective since it’s hard to preserve the delicate texture and the amazing fresh taste of raspberries, but since I picked few buckets full two weekends in a row, I wanted to preserve some of them. I made some homemade raspberry ice cream following this recipe from the blog the view from great island, and made this chocolate raspberry sundae topper from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving to go on top. It is deeeeelish and a great treat for chocolate lovers.

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Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 package regular fruit pectin
4 1/2 cups crushed raspberries
4 tbsp lemon juice
6 3/4 cups sugar

Here’s how it’s made:

Prepare your canner, jars, and lids. This recipe yields 6-7 half pints. Combine the cocoa powder and pectin in a bowl and set aside.

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Mash the berries and measure into a large pot. Add the lemon juice and stir.

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Whisk in the pectin/cocoa mixture.

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Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Once at a full boil, add the sugar all at once, return to a boil, and boil hard for one minute.

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So lovely, and delicious.

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Fill your hot jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and bands, and tighten finger tip tight. Process in a boiling water bath canner, covered by at least an inch or two of water for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, remove jars, cool, and store.

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This sundae topper makes a delightful gift for the ice cream lover in your life. I bet it would also be really good on a light cake – I think I need to try it. The only thing I may change if I did this again would be to potentially reduce the pectin. It sets pretty firmly, which for a “sundae topper” seemed sort of unnecessary. Next time I might halve it for a less firm set.

Have any raspberries you’re wanting to preserve in a unique and interesting way? Try this out and let me know what you think!

 

 

Blackberry Cabernet Jam

Last weekend after picking a ton of blackberries I was thinking about what delicious blackberry creation I could come up with, and was reminded of the strawberry Pinot Noir jam that I made two summers ago. Blackberries and wine? Yes please! That sounds like a great idea. Blackberries are bold though, I thought to myself, they need a bolder wine, thus was born the blackberry Cabernet jam. This jam is a real time commitment, as it is pectin free, and has an entire bottle of wine in it. However, if you’re feeling slightly more impatient the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving does have a berry wine jelly using liquid pectin that you could whip up faster. Alternatively, make a half batch and drink the other half of the wine.

Ingredients:
15 cups blackberries
2.5 cups sugar
One bottle of your favourite Cabernet Sauvignon or other bold wine
1 tbsp of lemon juice

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Here’s what I did:

Prepare the canner, jars, and lids (and by prepare I really mean start pondering it, because you actually won’t need to prepare for like 4 more hours). Depending on how long you cook this jam, it will yield about 6-8 pints. Mash the berries to your preferred level of mashiness in a large pot, and add the sugar, wine, and lemon juice. Leave a small amount of wine in the bottom of the bottle to sip on while you bring the jam to a boil.

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Bring to a boil over medium/high heat. Reduce and maintain a gentle boil for a good many hours, stirring occasionally. I think I ended up cooking this for nearly 5 hours. Be patient, or play with adding some liquid pectin of you want a firmer set. Near the end of the cook time, pay close attention to avoid any burning on the bottom of the pot.

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Fill hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rims, apply lids, and tighten bands finger tip tight. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

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Deeeeelicious. And oh so pretty. Now who wants to host a cocktail party or wine night so that I can bring some of this jam? 😉

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Gifts from the Kitchen

If you love food preservation as much as I do, you’ve probably given some food related gifts to family and friends in the past. Mostly I’ve given people things like jams, jellies and pickled goods I’ve made, and decorated cutely as below, but there are so many other gifts that we can give from the kitchen! So, with the holiday season coming up, the Master Food Preservers offered a class called “Gifts from the Kitchen” offering some inspiration and ideas for gifts for the various people in your lives. Teaching this class was a blast and people really had a good time so I wanted to share some of the ideas here that we talked about, and hopefully inspire you to get thinking about some gifts you might like to make in the next month. I thought I would get this post up today in honour of “cyber Monday”, so that maybe we can also be thinking of some homemade gifts on this massive shopping day. Maybe you could make something to accompany or replace a purchased gift, and I’ll offer a couple ideas here to pair a purchased gift with a homemade one.

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The most common gifts from the kitchen of course are canned goodies that you’ve made with love. I like to decorate them with little pieces of cloth, which are actually just quilting cloth squares or scraps from the craft store. Tie a cute ribbon around it and grab some cute tags, and presto gifto! However, when gifting preserved items there are a few other things you should remember. Of course always make sure you are following safe, tested recipes. If you want to play with things not tested that’s your own business, but always be safe when gifting items. It’s a nice touch to add an ingredient list and any information you think people may be interested in knowing, such as when the food was canned, how it was canned, whether it’s low sugar, things like that. It can be nice to put your initials on there or something too so people remember who it’s from (I know people trust my canned goods but maybe not everyone’s). If you want to give canned gifts but don’t have anything on hand, we talked about a few different things that you can still preserve now, which are pictured below. These include, pepper jellies, citrus jellies, jams or marmalade, cranberry jams or jellies (or check out the cranberry mustard I just posted), apple butters and applesauce. The green tomatoes are probably done for most of you now, but green tomato salsa is also an option if you still have some kicking around. There are also a number of other mustard recipes in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving that look really intriguing and can be prepared at basically any time of year, so I plan to try out some more of those soon too. I think it would be really nice to give a couple different ones. The 4 oz jars get harder to find in some areas this time of year, but luckily they are still online here for about the same price.

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Great! What else can we gift? Here is a sampling of some of the things we talked about or made in class, and I’ll talk in a bit more detail below about each of these. Here we have, from left to right, lime jelly and pepper jelly, a dry bean soup mix, a snowman of hot cocoa, flavoured vinegars and two different spice rubs in the front.

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We had a number of stations where people got to make items to take home, and my station was hot cocoa. You had a couple options on how to arrange your cocoa into the jar, but if you search the internet there are a ton of other ways to do it too, and they are so cute and creative!

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I did mine as a snowman (the guy on the left). I got this idea from my nana, who made them a number of years ago for Christmas gifts, but I made mine a little differently, using just one canning jar. All I did for mine was mix 1 part cocoa powder to 2 parts sugar, but you can also follow other recipes with dried milk in them as well. The one we did in class was 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 cup dried milk, 1/2 cup sugar, pinch of salt, 1/4 cup chocolate chips and 1/4 cup (or to fill the jar) mini marshmallows. Then, make a head out of marshmallows and decorate the jar with a scarf, face and hat made of cut out construction paper and a painted band and lid. Adorable. One of the girls in the class made this girl snowman who became buddies with mine.

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Get creative and have fun with it! All I did was spray paint lids and bands black, draw on a face and glue on some buttons and a scarf and he turned out adorable.

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Alternatively, you can make some cute layers in the jar or bag you put it in.

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Another station that we did was a dried soup mix. Simply layer a variety of beans in a jar. We did equal parts kidney beans, white lima beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, great northern beans, small red beans, black eyed peas, barley, and then half as much of the split peas and lentils. To fit in one pint jar, you need 1/4 cup of each (about 1/8 for the lentils and split peas). We then also included a spice packet, and here’s an example of what it could contain: 1/4 cup minced dried onion, 2 tbsp dried celery (we dried our own to be even more homemade), 1 tbsp bouillon (vegetable, beef, or chicken), 2 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp ground red pepper, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper.

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If giving a gift like this, it would also be nice to include some sort of recipe on how you would recommend preparing the soup. Including a recipe such as this one would work great. I prepared the spice packet to match the spices in this soup, but adjust this however you enjoy your bean soup, and share a family recipe or something. Additionally, a nice pairing to a gift like this could be your favourite cookbook. They turn out quite pretty when layered in the jars rather than blended.

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Another station we did was preparing spice rubs. The one pictured is a steak rub adapted from Family Circle Magazine (November 2012). It contains 1 tbsp kosher salt, 2 tsp smoked paprika, 2 tsp dried oregano, 1.5 tsp dried minced onion, 1 tsp dried minced garlic, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes.

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Simply stir all the ingredients together and package it in a cute way, such as in a little baggie or jar with a bow. Be sure to include the ingredient list, and perhaps a suggested usage. For example, Steak rub: rub 1 tsp spice mix onto both sides of a 1.5 pound steak and grill or broil as desired. A great idea for gifting this might be give it to someone who loves grilling, and include a book on grilling along with the homemade spice rubs.

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Another rub that we did that is really delicious is a lemon cumin rub. It contained: 1/4 cup ground cumin, 2 tbsp grated lemon peel, 2 tbsp paprika, 2 tbsp ground cardamom, 1 tbsp ground cinnamon, 1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper, 1 tbsp cayenne pepper and 2 tbsp dried oregano. This rub is great on chicken. To prepare, dip meat in a mixture of 1 tbsp brown sugar to 2 tbsp water, then apply 1 tbsp of the rub. Let it stand in the fridge for 4-6 hours, then grill. If you are going to do spice rubs though, it can get a little spendy, so buying in bulk is always a great idea. Use home dried herbs too where you can for an added homemade touch. Some things you won’t have though, and they can be hard to find cheap (or at all) so I really like to get things from Mountain Rose Herbs. They have a huge herb selection and they also have bulk discounts if you are buying a ton. They also have some really fun salts and peppers which could also by themselves make fun gifts. Fill a few different 4 oz or 8 oz jars with a variety of different salts and peppers and decorate them for someone who loves to cook.

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The final station was an apple crumble recipe from The Dehydrator Bible (which itself is a great gift). This is a great gift for a camper and includes 1/2 cup dried apple slices (dry your own at home in your dehydrator), 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1/4 tsp dried lemon zest (optional), 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 cup crumbled oatmeal cookie (or we used granola cereal). Place the oatmeal in one bag and the rest in another, and place in a foil tin for campfire baking. This one only stores well for a month or so, so keep that in mind. To include serving instructions, add a tag that says to serve you will add 3/4 cup of water to the apple mixture, and let stand for 15 minutes. Cook for about 10 minutes over the fire (or on the stove on low) and once apple reach the desired softness, add the cookie crumble and serve. 

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All prepared in its tin.

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Those are all the gifts from the kitchen that we made in class, but there are numerous other things that you could gift. One example I posted earlier was flavoured vinegar. A lovely pairing to this would be a salad dressing mixer. I have a very similar one to the one linked here (couldn’t find the exact one) and I love it. When I try and mix salad dressing by hand I often find I get too much oil onto my salad and not enough vinegar, so this is one of those silly toys I once bought myself. There are also some fun bottles with recipes on them, but I can’t vouch for the recipes so much because I always make my own with a lot less sugar. 

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Another thing I did last year to give some of my favourite things (with a jar theme of course) was to give people my favourite teas in a ball jar. Pick up some different loose leaf teas from Mountain Rose Herbs, or your favourite local tea shop, and perhaps include a little tea ball with it. OK, that’s all I have for now, and I need to get to bed, so I hope you are feeling inspired! I just wanted to end with a couple of final thoughts for purchasable gifts for the culinarily (ya that’s not a word) inclined people in your life. I really enjoy The Flavor Bible, which is a book full of tons of inspiring flavor combinations. It’s not recipes, but basically a fun index of the best flavor combinations for every type of food out there. It’s inspired a number of great recipes for me and was a great birthday gift last year. Of course for the canners in your life I am always a fan of the classics for safe and tested recipes, which are also of course delicious and amazing: The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, or the smaller Ball Blue Book. Or the newly released (I just got it finally yay!) So Easy to Preserve. Last but not least, my second favourite way to preserve is dehydrating, so I would recommend both dehydrators and The Dehydrator Bible as excellent gifts. Happy gifting, thanks for reading, and enjoy your cyber Monday! Remember as always if you purchase something from one of my links I’ll receive a small amount of commission in return (see “About the Blogger” for more info), but as always I only link to products I love and truly recommend so I thank you in advance if you decide to invest in any of these items.

Cranberry Mustard

Do you have a bunch of cranberries left over from your thanksgiving feast? This cranberry mustard would be a really simple and tasty way to use them up! I bought a few pounds of local cranberries last week at the final outdoor farmers market of the season, and made a bunch of homemade cranberry juice, but I also wanted to try something new with them. As usual, I popped open my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and found this cranberry mustard recipe that looked super intriguing. They also have a cranberry ketchup by the way, if you have the book. Look at how gorgeous it is! Ball recommends it on ham, so that’s my first plan for it.  I also brought it as a little gift to our hostess for thanksgiving (maybe a good idea for Christmas yes? )

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Ingredients:
1 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup yellow mustard seeds
1 cup water
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 3/4 cups cranberries
1/4 cup dry mustard
3/4 cup granulated sugar (or to taste)
2.5 tsp ground allspice

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Here’s how I made it:

The first thing you need to do is soak the mustard seeds in the vinegar. Bring the vinegar to a boil, remove from heat, add the mustard seeds, cover and let it sit until all the vinegar is absorbed – about an hour and a half.

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Prepare the canner, jars and lids. This yields about 7-8 4 oz jars, or 4 half pints. I ended up with 4 half pints a bit left over.

Dump the vinegar/mustard seed mixture into your food processor (I have this one) and add the water and Worcestershire sauce.

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Blend until the seeds are mostly crushed up but still retain a grainy texture. You can adjust the blended-ness to your preference.

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Then add the cranberries and blend again.

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Scoop the mixture into a pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and boil gently. Add the ground mustard, sugar, and allspice. If you’d like to do less or no sugar, taste it before adding it and see what you think. I actually thought it tasted great before I added the sugar and allspice. At this point Ball said to boil until the mixture is reduced by a third, but mine was already crazy thick so I boiled for about 5 minutes and called it good.

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Fill your hot jars with mustard, leaving a quarter inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and tighten finger tip tight. Place the jars in a boiling water bath canner covered by at least 1-2 inches of water. Process for 10 minutes once the water is boiling.

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After the 10 minutes, turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, wait 5 minutes and remove the jars to a hot pad or towel. Cool 12-24 hours, remove bands, wipe, label, and store.

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Inferno Wine Jelly

The other pepper jelly we tried out from Ball the same night as the habanero jelly was this inferno wine jelly. I think with the combo of jalapeno peppers and red bell peppers in it, it will make a perfect jelly to have a a Christmas wine and cheese party. So pretty.

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Ingredients:
1/2 cup finely chopped seeded red bell pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped jalapeno pepper
2 dried chopped hot chili peppers
1.5 cups sweet white wine (ball suggests Sauternes but anything will work)
3 tbsp lemon juice
3.5 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch of liquid pectin

And here’s how we made it:

Prepare the canner, jars and lids. This recipe yields about 7 4oz. jars.

Combine the peppers, wine and lemon juice. Feel free to use milder peppers if you don’t want an “inferno.” You can also decide whether to seeded the dried chilies, or omit them altogether. Make sure you use a deep pot for this. This pot barely cuts it because the jelly boils very vigorously and can easily boil over if your pot is too shallow.

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Stir in the sugar. So lovely! Bring the jelly to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. If you have a fan, have it on. If you have an assistant, have them ready to fan. Boy does this go crazy. Once at the rolling boil stir in the pectin. Boil hard for another 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.

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Quickly skim off any foam and fill your hot jars, leaving a quarter inch head space. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and tighten the bands finger tip tight. Process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner, covered by at least an inch of water. After the 10 minutes, turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, wait 5 minutes and remove the jars to a hot pad or towel.

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As with the habanero jelly, you can gently twist or tilt the jars after they are sealed to get a nice particle suspension. Just no shaking or inverting the jars, that can affect your seal, so just be very gentle. I didn’t do as nice of a job here, but oh well, still a lovely jelly. Cool the jars 12-24 hours, remove the bands, check the seals, wipe, label and store.

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Watermelon Jelly

Watermelons are a classic summer treat that we usually only get to enjoy for a few months while they are in season. These two delightful jelly recipes will allow you to preserve that taste of summer so that you can enjoy it all year long.

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I made two versions of this recipe, one is the zesty watermelon jelly from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, and the other is my own creation, where I simply subbed lemon juice in for the vinegar and omitted the lemongrass. Remember, lemon and lime juice are both better acidifiers than vinegar, which is why it is safe to sub it here. However, that extra acid is mandatory, watermelon is not acidic enough, and therefore not safe to waterbath can without it.

Ingredients:
6 cups crushed watermelon (enough to make 2 cups juice)
1/2 cup vinegar (use white balsamic, white wine or apple cider – I used apple cider here)
4 tablespoons lemon juice
5 cups sugar
1 stem lemongrass, finely chopped
2 pouches liquid pectin

or

6 cups crushed watermelon (enough to make 2 cups juice)
3/4 cups lemon juice
5 cups sugar
2 pouches liquid pectin

Here’s how to make it:

Crush up the watermelon and heat it gently for about 5 minutes.

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Mash it up some more and strain through a dampened jelly bag, or cheesecloth/muslin with some sort of strainer or funnel like below. I don’t have a legit jelly bag setup, so I just used the hopper from the Victorio strainer and some muslin and strained it into a half gallon jar. This actually strained amazingly quickly, unlike some other juice for jellies. I guess they are called watermelons for a good reason.

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Measure out two cups of the juice. If it’s been sitting a while and some of the sediment has settled out, you can stir it up a bit if you like, so that you get that pink colour. If you pour off the top with a lot of the sediment settled out your jelly will be much lighter.

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Prepare the canner, jars and lids. This recipe yields about 5-6 half pints.

Combine all the ingredients except for the pectin in a deep stainless steel pot. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. When the boil is reached, stir in the two packets of pectin quickly and return to a boil. Maintain a hard boil for 1 minute.

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Remove from heat and quickly skim any foam.

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This jelly starts to set up really quickly, so you need to work fast filling the jars. If you have a helper when you are making this, have them get the hot jars ready as you are stirring so you can fill quick like a bunny. Fill the jars leaving a 1/4 inch head space. Wipe the rims, apply the lids, and tighten the bands finger tip tight.

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Process the jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes, ensuring the jars are covered by at least 1-2 inches of water, and beginning the time when a full rolling boil is acheived. After the ten minutes, turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, wait 5 minutes, and remove the jars to a hot pad or towel. Cool 12-24 hours, remove bands, check seals, wipe down, label and store.

Pictured here is the zesty watermelon jelly on the left, and on the right is the version with just lemon juice. I think the colour difference is in part due to the cider vinegar, but also because I made the right one second and I think had more of the sediment in that batch. They are both pretty, but I was hoping for pinker, and think I might need to experiment with using less sugar to achieve that. But the flavour is certainly delicious!

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Watermelon Jelly on Punk Domestics