Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Watermelon and Wine Pepper Jelly

On a couple of recent farm outings, one to visit Mercer House Estate Winery, an organic vineyard, and the other to visit Bradford Watermelons, a heritage melon being reintroduced, I decided to try making a jelly using both of these amazing products.

Because they are working toward organic certification, and have organic practices in place, I wanted to make this jelly as natural as possible, something that proved to be a bit difficult, but one I eventually conquered.

Why difficult? Well making jams or jellies is a fine ratio between fruit or juice and sugars or sweeteners, and some with wine, vinegar or lemon juice. Difficult because I was replacing sugar with a natural raw local honey and some local sorghum syrup which is heavier and cooks differently than sugar.  It took me a bit of experimenting, but I finally got it!

This Watermelon & Wine Pepper Jelly is spicy, sweet, full flavored and delicious. It is best served over cream cheese on crackers, but would also make an excellent glaze for a roasted/grilled pork loin or ham.

6 cups chopped watermelon (Bradford Watermelons)
1 1/4 cups "Adele" Muscadine Wine (Mercer House Estate Winery)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
12 jalapeno peppers, sliced
2 cups raw local honey (Bell Honey Company)
2 cups sorghum syrup (Carolina Bay Farms)
1 package Sure-Jell (powdered pectin)
1 tsp. butter
10 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks

Place whole cloves and cinnamon sticks in a spice bag. Pour honey and sorghum syrup in a small sauce pan and add spice bag. Bring to a simmer and cook 20-30 minutes or until spices are well infused in the honey/sorghum. Remove from heat and set aside (do not remove spice bag).

In a large stock pot, add watermelon, muscadine wine, red wine vinegar, jalapeno peppers, butter and Sure-Jell. Bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat, stirring often. Remove spice bag from honey/sorghum mixture and discard. Add honey/sorghum mixture to watermelon and return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and ladle into prepared canning jars. Top with lids and seals and process in a boiling water bath 10 minutes.

Remove jars and let rest on your kitchen counter-top 24 hours undisturbed. Jars are sealed when button in middle of lid is completely depressed.

Store in pantry up to one year. Opened jars must be refrigerated.

Serve over cream cheese on crackers or heat and baste on a roasted or grilled pork loin or ham.

Cooks note - jelly may take 2-3 days to completely set-up.


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