Until recently, I had never made jelly. I thought it was below me, designed for children and eaten only until chunkier preserves were palatable. However, having made this recipe three times now (once to test it, once for a class and a third time just for fun), I feel a bit ashamed that I’ve been so snobbish towards jelly.
I’ve eaten the results of this recipe on toast, in a sandwich with peanut butter, and thinned down as a glaze for chicken and it has been consistently delicious. It recalls a classic orange marmalade, only without all those bits of peel. It’s perfect for the person who likes the bright, familiar flavor of orange, but doesn’t do so well with the bite of marmalade. What’s more, it’s refreshingly easy, as you begin with a half gallon of freshly squeezed orange juice. Sure, you could juice your own, and if you live in those warmer climates where oranges abound, I recommend it. But up here in the chilly east, I cheat and I don’t feel a moment of guilt about it.
Another thing that has me enamored of this jelly is that it is blank slate for a number of flavors. Unadulterated, it is good (and yes, perfect for kids who don’t like assertive flavors). But it’s amazing with a dash of cinnamon or spiked with a few tablespoons of ginger juice. Want a mimosa flavored jelly? Replace some of the juice with some champagne (or white wine, if you don’t want to open a bottle of bubbly just for jelly making). Steep some chai spices in your orange juice for an earthy bite.
I do believe that this is just the beginning of my jelly days. Look for more (maybe a rhubarb jelly?) in the coming days.
- 5 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice
- 5 cups sugar
- 2 packets of liquid pectin
- Place your jars into your canning pot, fill with water and bring to a boil. Because this jelly is only processed for five minutes, you need to add this jar sterilization step.
- Put your lids in a small pot and bring to a very gentle simmer (180 degrees) while you make the jam.
- In a large, non-reactive pot, combine the sugar and orange juice and bring them to a boil. Cook at a boil until they’re greatly reduced. Using an instant read thermometer, watch until the pot reaches 220 degrees (this is important. Skip this step and you’ll end up with orange syrup in place of your jelly). Add the liquid pectin and allow to boiling for an additional five minutes (the goal is to reach 220 degrees again and maintain it for at least three minutes).
- Pour the jelly into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and screw on bands. Process in a boiling water canner for five minutes.