We’ve had our Presto pressure canner for a couple of months now, and believe me when I tell you… Canning is EASY. I am really not sure why people don’t seem to can anymore! I guess it is easier to buy canned food at a grocery store, but I prefer my own cooking to Campbells (no offence though Campbells, you make a solid tomato soup).
Canning is easy now but when we first got our canner it sat on the counter in the box for a week. I felt like it was staring at me, like it was daring me to try to use it. I was afraid. All those old stories you can find about pressure canners blowing up and botulism were getting to me. So we decided to start small and make a simple recipe following the instructions in the Bernardin (Ball, in the USA) Complete Book of Home Preserving (which is truly a great resource) to the letter.
When we were flipping through the book looking for something to try we had basically two criteria: the first was as few ingredients as possible. The second was that it had to be a water bath recipe – I wasn’t ready to use pressure yet!
We settled on Berry Wine Jelly, thinking it would make a great Christmas gift (and it did!).
Once we tasted the jelly and realized how delicious it was, we made another batch so we had 6 jars total. It is important when canning with pectin NOT to double the recipe, but to make separate batches. My understanding is that the necessary cook time changes and is hard to determine, and if not properly calculated your pectin may not be effective (though I believe there are other reasons as well). But if you make them simultaneously you can can them at the same time!
The recipe also called for 1 cup of raspberries or strawberries and so I used some of each.
You’ll also need a dry white wine. Kyle and I don’t drink alcohol… at all. I haven’t had any in probably close to 10 years – I just never liked the taste, not even blended drinks. Kyle is the same but he doesn’t like feeling as though he is not in complete control of himself either. So there you have it. We don’t drink. Anyway, this is relevant because we had NO idea what to buy. Kyle asked the guy at the liquor store for the cheapest one and we ended up with Yellowtail Chardonnay.
So here we go:
- 1 cup raspberries or sliced strawberries (or some of each like we did)
- 2 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 3 1/2 cups granulated white sugar (makes you think twice about eating jelly doesn’t it!! But it’s sssooo good)
- 1 pouch (85 ml) liquid pectin
- Combine your berries and wine in a mixing bowl and crush the berries. Transfer to a jelly bag and let drip for about an hour. You should be able to measure our 2 1/2 cups berry wine.
- During the hour of wait time prepare your jars and canner. Remove the rings and lids from your jars. Place the lids into a small saucepan and simmer. Fill your clean jars with water and place them into your canner. Fill the canner with water so the jars are just submerged. Bring to a simmer. Prepare your tools by setting them on the counter and place a tea towel on the counter to protect it from the hot jars and sticky drips.
- Transfer the 2 1/2 cups of berry wine into a large, deep saucepan. Add sugar and stir. Turn heat to high and stir constantly until you have a rolling boil that can’t be stirred down. Add your pectin while continuing to stir. Boil hard for two more minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off any foam.
- Remove your jars from the canner, leaving the water they contained in the canner. Pour your hot jelly liquid into each jar, preferably using a mason jar funnel, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace (space between the top of the jelly and the top of the jar). Wipe the jar rim with to ensure no jelly will interfere with your seal. Remove your lids from the pot of simmering water and center on the jar. Screw your rings on to fingertip tight (just to you begin to feel resistance when tightening only with your fingertips).
- Place your jars back in the canner and make sure there is enough water so that they are completely covered. Bring to a boil with the lid on but not sealed (if using a pressure canner). Once water is boiling, process the jelly for 10 minutes and then allow them to rest in the canner with the lid off for 5 minutes.
- Remove the jars from the canner, cool and store. It is recommended that they rest on a cooling rack or are otherwise insulated so that they don’t damage your countertop (I put mine on a towel). It is also recommended you cover them with a small towel and do not disturb them for about 24 hours. Do not tip your jars as you remove them from the canner, or before the jelly has set. It could affect the seal of your jar.
Done! Wait a second here… How did we end up with four jars when we were supposed to only have 3?
This is where the importance of using a large pot to boil your jelly comes in. I used a medium pot, and when it was boiling hard it kept trying to boil over. So what did I do? I removed the pot from the heat to prevent it from making a mess. I was left with 4 jars of jelly instead of three, and the jelly did not set up. The problem was that the pectin didn’t have a chance to do it’s ‘thing’ because it didn’t boil hard enough, long enough, and the extra jar wouldn’t have been there if the wine had been able to evaporate properly during the boiling process.
When the jelly didn’t set after about 24 hours we opened a jar to investigate and found it was SUPER alcoholic tasting. Easy solution if this happens to you: Just open the jars, put them into a LARGE pot and follow the directions properly! Boil it hard! It completely solved our problem with the pectin setting, and sure enough the wine taste was toned down and there was just enough for three perfect jars. Remember that if this ever happens to you, you can’t reuse your lids but it’s a good idea to have spares anyway so you can reuse your jars for something else.