I wasn’t sure if I’d like this jelly.
I love roasted garlic. I roast big batches of garlic periodically, then puree the softened cloves with olive oil and freeze it all in ice cube trays. So good added to pasta sauces, or gravies, or dips, or smeared on sliced baguettes and topped with thin wedges of brie….
I could go on and on.
So at first the idea of a roasted garlic jelly was very appealing. But then I read that you have to strain the roasted garlic, so all you get is the juice (there are other ingredients – I’ll get to those). Which makes sense – it’s a jelly, not a jam. But I was trying to imagine a clear jelly smeared on a baguette, and it wasn’t happening for me.
But I figured I’d give it a try anyway.
And I’m glad I did.
First, you roast he garlic. According to the recipe, you slice the tops off the garlic heads, then you drizzle a bit of olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar on each head.
The recipe recommends white balsamic vinegar, but I didn’t have any and wasn’t in the mood to search every store in the area or to order it online and then WAIT. So I went with the regular dark version.
Not necessarily a bad thing. Per the recipe,
White balsamic vinegar creates a lovely light-colored jelly, but it is difficult to find. More commonly available dark balsamic vinegar may be substituted, but the resulting jelly will be dark in color and will have a more robust flavor.
Well, we’re all about the robust flavors here, so I decided I was going to be happier with the dark balsamic anyway.
I roasted the garlic, wrapped in foil, for about an hour, then let it cool for about fifteen minutes.
Next (and sorry – no pictures for this next part) I squeezed the garlic out into a pan, added white wine, water, more balsamic vinegar, and black pepper. I brought the mixture to a boil, let it bubble softly for five minutes, shut off the heat, and let it steep.
The recipe said to let it steep for fifteen minutes. I know I let mine go longer. I think didn’t believe the jelly would really be garlicky.
Next, I poured the mixture into a cheesecloth-lined collander and let it drain over a bowl. The recipe says to let it drain for half an hour, but – again – I let it go longer. Not for additional flavor. I was just busy doing other stuff.
Anyway, for a single recipe, you need 1 2/3 cups of the juice. I had plenty. If you don’t have enough, you can add up to a quarter cup of white wine or water.
It was late by the time I finished this step, so I just covered the strained juice and stuck it in the fridge overnight.
The next morning, it was time to finish.
First, I got my jars, lids, and canning pot ready to go. I decided to use the little 4 oz jelly jars because I’ll be giving some of this jelly away in gift baskets this holiday season, along with other little goodies. The recipe produced nine jars of jelly.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
You take the juice and pour it into a deep stainless steel pot, add sugar and lemon juice, and bring it to a rolling boil.
And then you add the pectin. 2 pouches of it.
This is what the recipe says, so that’s the way I did it. The first time.
But I’ll get to that later.
Right now, the pectin is in there, so we have to keep going with the rest of the cooking.
Boil hard for a minute after adding the pectin, and keep stirring the whole time. Then shut off the heat, skim the foam, and start pouring it into your jars.
The jars get processed at a rolling boil for ten minutes, then you let them sit in the water (after shutting off the heat) for another five minutes before removing to cool.
And that’s about it.
I had a little extra, so I scraped that into a ramekin to taste.
Now, first of all, this stuff is GOOD. Plenty of roasted garlic flavor, enhanced by the wine and balsamic vinegar, and then the sugar gives it a little sweetness at the finish.
I love the flavor. Love it. Will make this on a regular basis, I think. Best part? It doesn’t take up space in the freezer.
I’m not using pectin again.
Pectin is used to help the jelly gel, or firm up, so it’s not a syrup.
But you know how too much of a good thing isn’t all that good, really? Well too much pectin isn’t good, either.
In fact, it’s weird. The gelling business works very well, of course…but…too well, I’m thinking.
The stuff doesn’t spread when you try to smear it.
It stays gelled. Really.
And you know how, if you leave jelly out it kind of softens and gets melty?
This stuff doesn’t.
That little blob of jelly in the picture at the beginning of this post?
That had been left out in the ramekin overnight.
It still didn’t spread well.
Kind of creepy, isn’t it? I mean, for a food?
So when I made the second batch (because, really, it’s SO yummy), I left out the pectin. All of it. I just cooked the mixture longer and tested it to make sure it would firm up when it was cool.
How? I put a plate in the fridge when I started cooking the sugar mixture, and when I got to a point during the boiling when the liquid was thicker and seemed like it might gel, I spooned a bit onto the plate, stuck it in the fridge for a minute, and then tested it by tilting the plate. If the mixture runs, it’s not ready.
Mine didn’t (yay!) so it was ready to can. I got 7 jars of that batch. But that’s okay. I’ll be making more.
It’s yummy stuff.
The basic recipe is below.
To pectin or not to pectin? That’s your call.
Roasted Garlic Jelly
(from Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving)
Makes about nine 4-oz. jars
3 medium heads of garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons white or dark balsamic vinigar, divided
1 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp crushed black peppercorns
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups granulated sugar
2 pouches liquid pectin
What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut off tops of garlic heads, exposing cloves. Place each head on a small square of aluminum foil set on a baking sheet. Top each head with 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp balsamic vinegar. Scrunch foil loosely around garlic heads and roast in preheated oven until garlic is golden and very soft, 45 to 60 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Separate cloves, pinching each one to extract the soft roasted garlic. Discard skins.
3. In a medium stainless steel saucepan, combine roasted garlic, wine, water, balsamic vinegar and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes. Cover, remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes.
4. Transfer garlic mixture to a dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth set over a deep bowl. Let drip, undisturbed, for about 30 minutes. Measure 1 2/3 cups garlic juice. If you do not have the required amount, add up to 1/4 cup dry white wine or water.
5. Meanwhile, prepare canner (hot water bath), jars, and lids.*
6. Transfer garlic juice to a large, deep stainless steel saucepan. Stir in lemon juice and sugar. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Stir in pectin. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam.
7. Quickly pour hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4” headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
8. Place jars in canner, ensuring that they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
Note: If you don’t want to use pectin, leave out that step and just keep boiling until the mixture thickens. You can also test it as I described earlier in my post.
*If you are new to canning, I highly recommend purchasing a good book about the topic – Ball puts out a couple of them. If you’d like to see the prepping process, you can scroll through this post of mine from a couple of years ago.