i found this month’s canning assignment a bit challenging. sometimes i think the wider the range from which to choose, the more difficult. this month’s assignment was herbs. herbs! how many hundreds, thousands of herbs are there anyway? i considered most of them. i find i have most difficulty with decision-making when i am a bit over-stimulated by other facets of life. it’s time to admit that my day job is really getting in the way of my blogging, cooking, and social engagements. and something must be done about it.
and so to that end, this writing is so close to the deadline that i will have to keep it short. and sweet! this is a delicious jelly made from a texas viognier and a very special ingredient: mexican mint marigold, aka texas tarragon. this is a lovely herb indigenous to texas and mexico. it is also known as the ‘poor man’s tarragon’. all i know is that it’s a perennial herb that i’ve had it my garden for years and i use it in all kinds of sauces and preparations. the apple pectin stock is a wonderful way to add natural pectin to jellies and jams. the apple flavor is a bit stronger than i’d like it to be, but the jury is still out. i will taste again this week before i make adjustments.
both of these recipes are adapted from gourmet preserves: chez madelaine by madelaine bullwinkel.
apple pectin stock:
this is a neutral pectin stock that works well with most jelly flavors. keep a store of it in the fridge or freezer so you always have some on hand.
4 lbs granny smith apples
8 c water
stem the apples and coarsely chop. place pieces in a heavy non-reactive 5-quart pot: include seeds, skins, and cores. bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes. stir once or twice during this time, turning the apples from top to bottom..
strain mixture through a damp cheesecloth-lined sieve for 1 hour. there will be about 8 cups of juice. begin to reduce this juice while continuing the straining process for another hour. the last strained juice has a higher pectin level than the juices previously strained. add this juice to the pan and reduce juices to 3 cups total.
stock will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or frozen up to a few months.
be sure to use a wine you really enjoy drinking because the final product will be a concentrated version of this flavor.
1 bottle of your favorite wine (i used a driftwood vineyards texas viognier)
3 cups apple pectin stock
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2-3 small sprigs of tarragon (i used mexican mint marigold, aka texas tarragon)
2 cups granulated sugar
reduce the wine to 1 cup in a heavy, non-reactive 4-quart pan. reserve wine and rinse out the pan. combine pectin stock, wine, lemon juice and tarragon in the pan and bring to a simmer, reducing by half to about 2 1/2 cups. remove tarragon. add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, allowing liquid to return to a boil before adding more. continue to boil until mixture reaches jell-point, about 5-10 minutes.
off heat, skim the jelly and ladle into hot, sterilized jelly jars to within 1/4″ of the top. if desired, add a small sprig of tarragon to suspend in jell. process in a water bath for 10 minutes.