This is the time of year when I usually start thinking about Christmas….gifts that is. Last year I used a very old recipe I found [its here under the recipe icon] to make a huge amount of Colonial Rumpot. That's a sort of brandied fruit that you have to start in Summer when the various fruits are ripe. I made a whale of a lot of this delicious stuff and gave it away in pint jars accompanied by a recipe to make a Martha Washington Rumpot Cake. That gift was well received. I got lots of nice feedback from neighbors, family, and friends on the quality of the cake they were able to bake using the Rumpot ingredients.
Soooo….I wanted to come up with something equally unique and frugal for this Christmas. When we went to West Virginia for the Hatfield and McCoy Half Marathon I saw an advertisement in a local magazine for funny 'hillbilly' type gifts and Moonshine Jelly was high on that list. That's when I started my search for a recipe.
Of course I don't have access to any real moonshine, although I believe some states do allow its sale in liquor stores. Imagine my surprise when I found, by reading a list of ingredients on the back of a moonshine jelly jar I saw recently in a gift shop on my trip to South West Georgia, that it is actually made with white wine!
Today I'm making up half pint jars of 'moonshine' jelly. I'll be using my tried and true grape juice jelly recipe substituting a nice white wine for the grape juice. I'm even thinking of making 'Champagne' jelly at some point since it would be such a cute New Year's gift along with suitable crackers and cream cheese.
Of course I'll need to come up with a funny label for my moonshine jelly. I've made jelly labels before with the computer using bigger mailing labels. I'm sure that's what I'll do this time. I'll try to post it so you can use the labels as well, if you so desire.
Anyhoo, here is the recipe I'm making today-
3 cups white wine
5 1/4 cups sugar
1 box pectin [Sure-Jell]
1/2 tsp margarine-to reduce foaming & scum
Put ingredients in big pot. Bring to a full rolling boil and stir until the liquid clabbers off a spoon. Clabbering is when you kind of let the mixture fall off the long edge of a tablespoon. It should sheet off in waves instead of just dripping- that's clabbering. If you can't tell if its clabbering, don't worry. Just boil it till you can't stir the boil away. It will be done. Skim off any foam from the pot. If you leave the foam in there its going to look nasty. So don't skimp on the skimming. Pour into 12 half pint jars. Immediately screw on lids and place on counter [or process in a water bath]. Leave the jelly there at least overnight. It may take this jelly a few days to actually firmly set up. Wearing a pair of rubber gloves will help you get the lids on the jars while they are still very, very hot.
I used to work in the Jelly Ministry at church and we always used the 'place on counter' trick. You can tell if you get the correct seal when you examine the jars after several days. The flat lid should be concave & make a very nice pop sound if you're there when they start sealing. If the lid's not concave when you check on them, either process the suspect jar in a boiling water bath, put it in the frig and use up quickly, or just throw it away. We threw the very few that didn't seal properly away.
Oh yeah, here's where I give the plug for reusing any old jars you might have saved from say pesto or mayo or any other pretty jar you just couldn't make yourself throw away. If those jars will take a standard sized canning lid and band you can use them for this method of making jelly. Just be sure you use new lids and bands. Using recycled jars makes this gift even more frugal!
Well, I need to get started making my moonshine jelly. Hope you try this recipe too.