Strawberry Shiraz Preserves and Homemade Apple Pectin

It’s a sad day when I buy a bottle of wine that I don’t like.

Good thing I stumbled on this recipe for Strawberry Pinot Noir Preserves from The Local Kitchen. (But I had shiraz instead of pinot noir.) It’s like strawberry jam went away to finishing school or something. Kinda high-brow, right?

I really love strawberries. But after reading story after story about how bad conventionally raised strawberries are, I don’t buy them anymore unless they’re organic or I know the farmer that grew them and know how he or she grows them. Strawberries are on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen, which is a guideline for what produce has the highest level of pesticide residue and should be bought organically.

The interesting thing about this recipe is that it uses homemade apple pectin stock. I’ve been wanting to try making my own pectin from apple leavings for the past few years, since I started canning apples and am left with a pile of peels and cores to compost. Last year, I saved them in a big bowl and threw it in the freezer for, oh…  about seven months. Last week, I finally got around to making pectin from them. The process was super easy, but time consuming. I encourage anybody who cans apples to do this.

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I boiled down the peels and leavings in my crockpot in some water. Then I poured the liquid through a jelly bag to strain it. You basically leave it in a covered container in the fridge for about 2 days to let all the sediment settle to the bottom. Then you carefully ladle out the liquid not disturbing the sediment into a stock pot and boil down to concentrate it. It was easy.

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I got about 5 cups of stock. I might have boiled it down a little too much. But that just concentrates the pectin more for when you make jelly or jam. Definitely err on the side of too concentrated. You can either freeze it (leave extra headspace) or can it.

I’m tickled to death about having homemade pectin for basically free. Powdered pectin is expensive, yo. And who knows what it’s made out of.

So, I got onto the task of making the jam. This was also a multi-day process. First I mixed the berries, wine and sugar and a little bit of lemon juice in a bowl and put it in the fridge to macerate over night. After hanging out in the fridge overnight, the next day, I took the mixture out and boiled in for 15 minutes. Then, put the mixture back in the fridge overnight.

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IMG_3384The next day, you’re ready to can. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the liquid pectin. I used my candy thermometer for about the second time ever here, so I was excited. Boil at the “gel” stage for 20 minutes.

A word now about liquid pectin… Canning recipes that call for liquid pectin are different from ones that call for powdered pectin. You cannot interchange them because the process is different. So don’t try it. Just trust me.

This smelled amazing while it was cooking. I think it was the best use of a $2 bottle of wine ever. But, I only got 2 pints out of the recipe. I was kinda bummed about that since I snuck a taste after I filled the jars, and this stuff is wonderful.

The whole process of this post took me like a week by the time I made the pectin and the preserves. But it was worth it. It wasn’t hard at all, just a lot of waiting time. And now I have enough liquid pectin to last me for a summers’ worth of canning jam and jelly. And some fancy-pants strawberry preserves.

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