Gourmet hot garlic wine jelly

This is a recipe that is still in development. The inspiration for it comes  – once more – from vendors at the Owen Sound Market. This time it comes mainly from the Acadian Shamrock Farm who grow amazing garlic and also turn it into all kinds of garlic preserves, jellies, jams and vinegars. My usual M.O. is to buy a jar, and if I like it I will backwards engineer it, starting with basic principles.

Genette and Tony also provided me with the secret of how to store garlic for the season: buy braids of it, and keep in a cool dry place. Doing this, garlic I purchase in September it lasts until about April  – when it starts to either go soft/sprout/mold  – if you haven’t eaten it all by then. My strategy this year is to do all my garlic preserving now, and then go into the winter with 12 braids to last hopefully until the scapes come up next year.

The other source of inspiration here was Cottage Country North. Laura has been experimenting with different vehicles for HOT, and one of them has been wine. Her wine habenero jelly has been in the back of my mind on this one – the difference here being the focus on garlic, and the vinegar add in.

Meanwhile, I’ve been making my own wine vinegar. This started as an idea after I saw cooking wine for sale from the Stonechurch Winery in Niagara on the Lake.  We visited them in the fall, and came away with a couple of cases. This is, relatively speaking, a small winery, and not in the LCBO. All their trade is through their door and online.  They have had a $5.00 pinot noir cooking wine available for a while now, and also have several varieties of whites available in the $7.00 range (and yes, they also have a range up to about $20). This is important as using a $5 – $7 bottle to make your wine vinegar is a very different proposition than using a $17 bottle, or even a $12 bottle. In closing on this, I should say that their $7 bottles are really great everyday crack-one-open-sitting-around-the-deck-with-friends-on-a-summer-day kind of wine. Open a nice cheese, crackers and a plate of fruit, this garlic pepper jelly,  and you’re good to go!

My wine vinegar source is http://foodpreservation.about.com/od/Pickles/a/How-To-Make-Red-Wine-Vinegar.htm. While these directions anticipate making up a batch that will keep for a while (true if one is using it for daily use) making such quantities as needed for this recipe essentially mean I’m treating the wine and vinegar as two separate ingredients.

So yesterday I decided to figure out a hot garlic pepper jelly. I thought ‘why not try a white wine vinegar?’ I would use my basic chutney ratio as  a starting point: 1:1:1:5% (fruit/vinegar/sugar/salt) Since the key flavour in it was garlic and hot pepper, I approached it as equal parts by weight of only sugar and vinegar, and added 5% salt (5% of the weight of the vinegar). The garlic and pepper were the flavorings added onto the base. I should add at this point that the ‘gourmet’ in this recipe’s name comes from the cost of the wine, in my opinion (though true, the garlic is all fresh and organic). Even using $7 bottles of wine, the price point becomes significantly higher than if using any kind of vinegar.

I also tried something new in recipe development. I worked on a really tiny batch – enough to fill only a single jar. In this case I started the jelly base with 100g sugar, 100g white wine vinegar, and 5g salt. These were heated until the sugar and salt dissolved. The resulting base had a wonderful fullness and depth to it from the wine. Yet it also had that important tang and heat from the vinegar. (as per the wine vinegar directions, the wine vinegar ratio is 3:1). I’m thinking this would be a great base for all kinds of things: jellies, chutneys, even salad dressings and sauces.

This is the wine/vinegar/salt/sugar base used in the development mode

This is the wine/vinegar/salt/sugar base used in the development mode

Once the base was done, I started building up the other favours. I wanted a strong garlic base to it, and so thought (in weight as always) to try 20g of chopped garlic. This added, boiled for a minute or so, then added another 10g. That felt right. It was about 2-3 cloves. I then wondered if I wouldn’t get more out of it if I pressed it in. Yup. That helped too. I also wondered about infusing the garlic then removing it, or leaving the garlic shreds in. I decided to leave them in, having only slightly boiled them – so really the approach here is a little like a pickle. It would mean you would get a serious hit of garlic. All is good!

So much garlic for 200 or so ml!

So much garlic for 200 or so ml!

Next – the hot pepper. I decided to go simple here  – hot pepper flakes – the same as one puts on a pizza. I added these a gram  – about a teaspoon  – at a time. For my 200g weight base mixture, 3g seemed just right.

Garlic Pepper Jelly  - -development phase. It started out in a 250ml jar.

Garlic Pepper Jelly – -development phase. It started out in a 250ml jar.

To set this small amount, I used a half tbs of agar  – though for my bulk recipe I will likely use Pomona’s Pectin – my usual go-to thickener for jams and jellies. Going the  Pomona’s route, I would not add the sugar until the end, as per their directions. Although their instructions do not have such a recipe as this, it seems like 1 tsp of pectin/1tsp of calcium water is used per cup (250 ml) of jelly. On the 2L batch I am making today, this will amount to 8 tsp of each.

A final note before I provide the recipe: I was thinking about experimenting further – adjusting the ratio of wine and vinegar, or doing a version with apple cider vinegar. But I think not. I really love what I put together yesterday. My main challenge in terms of a 2L batch will be to separate 600g of garlic from their skins.


2 bottles (total 1500ml) white wine

500 ml white vinegar

2kg cane sugar

100g salt

600g finely chopped garlic (about 10 bulbs)

60g hot pepper flakes

Pectin sufficient for 4 litres: use directions for the pectin you normally use


  1. Heat up a water bath and the jars you will use (@ 18 x 250 ml jars)
  2. Peel and finely dice garlic: I suggest using a food processor.
  3. Heat wine, vinegar, salt, and most of the sugar until dissolved
  4. Add garlic, hot peppers and simmer for 2-3 minutes
  5. Remove from heat, and add in remaining sugar/pectin
  6. Return to boil until sugar pectin has dissolved, then remove from heat
  7. Pour into jars and boil in water bath for about 5 minutes.
  8. As the jelly cools and thickens, turn the jars upside down to disperse the garlic and pepper pieces evenly.

Stuff you need to make this

  • food processor
  • 18 or so 250 ml jars + lids
  • bowls with ingredients measured out
  • 1 wooden spoon – large
  • rubber spatula
  • cutting board
  • 18L and 60L pots
  • canning tongs
  • BBQ tongs
  • pot lids
  • 4 stove mitts
  • 2 cup measuring cup
  • sponge, scouring pad,
  • metal colander


In ending, I’d like to encourage anyone reading this to work through their own development process – and improve on this. Its fun and you have the satisfaction of creating your own unique preserve. Using 100g base quantities to experiment with works well as it is then very easy to  think in terms of the larger quantities.

Happy Preserving!


3 thoughts on “Gourmet hot garlic wine jelly

  1. Hello,
    I am a partner in Workstead Industries, the company that brings you Pomona’s Pectin. I just happened across your blog and found it quite fascinating reading. I’m curious if you have already tried your larger batch and if you used Pomona’s and, if so, how it came out?

    As you know, we usually work in pounds and cups and teaspoons, etc. and translation into grams and mls isn’t always completely straightforward, but in looking at what you’re doing, it seems like you might be trying to dissolve the Pomona’s in a high-sugar environment and that will impede the jelling of your final product.

    Pomona’s only dissolves (and therefore jells) properly in a low-sugar environment, which means the sugar can be no more than half the amount of the mashed or liquid fruit you are working with.

    We are thinking that your sugar amount of 2 kg = 4.4 lbs of sugar = about 10 cups of sugar, that you are using that with 8 cups of liquid and the chopped 1 1/3 lbs of garlic and the pepper flakes?

    Our recipe, on our instruction sheet that comes with the pectin, for hot pepper jelly, tells you to stir the pectin into one part of the sugar and then stir that into the mixture to get the pectin dissolved. Then add the rest of the sugar once the pectin is dissolved. That is the method for adding more sugar than the Pomona’s range allows.

    One other thing we noticed: you say that you need pectin for 4 liters but throughout the recipe you talk about it being a 2L recipe.

    It’s exciting work you are doing — if you have questions about using Pomona’s, please do feel free to call our Jamline – 413-772-6816 – or email info@pomonapectin.com. We’re happy to talk with you. And Happy Jamming to you!

    • Thank you indeed for your comment! I’ve used Pomona’s for years, following the jam recipes precisely. Only this year have I asked, “What else can this do?”, particularly in the area of Chutneys and condiments where the sour of the vinegar bumps up to the sweet of a jam. I’ve often, for example, taken a 125ml jar of blueberry jam (made with Pomona’s), added vinegar and lots of pepper to make an instant blueberry pepper chutney. So on that level it works well.
      For this recipe, I wanted the focus to be on the ingredient mix, not the gelling, though ultimately I DO want the sucker to set! That is why I simply stated to use whatever pectin you normally use.
      So how did it come out? Its true I am trying to use Pomona’s in a high sugar environment. In this recipe there’s no getting around it. Its a recipe where four taste heavyweights (garlic, hot, sugar, vinegar) muscle up against each other in a quite amazingly compelling result. Unlike a jam where a significant % of the ingredients consist of fruit with its own sugar and water content, the parallel base of this is the wine vinegar. I should also note that unless it has this intense sweetness, it will sit on my shelf, eschewed by the family. My experimental jar had disappeared within a day.
      I don’t know about the chemical properties of Pomona’s, but your comment makes sense. I did as you suggested too, well almost. I first got the flavoring minus the sugar right, then added most of the sugar until dissolution (boil), then the calcium water, (bring back to boil) then the lesser amount of sugar with the pectin powder (boil, take off, and can). Given what you say, it would not gel, and my result was that it half gelled – as you implied would happen in your note.
      While there were 2L of actual liquid, the final product made up 17 250ml jars. These jars are 250ml only when filled to the very top, and I (of course) left a small air pocket. My guess in the end is that the final volume was around 3 Litres – the 600g of Garlic and 2kg of dissolved sugar, as well as @ 150ml of calcium water making up the third litre.
      On Metric: I always use metric weight measurements. Different substances have different densities, but its the weight that matters. Weighing as opposed to volume measures inevitably leads to more consistent results. If I have an ‘American’ recipe with American volume measurements, I’ll add them per the recipe on a scale set to metric and note the metric result for the next time.
      Next steps: I want to try this one again, but this time focusing on the gel. I’d probably be looking at trying several types of gelling substances – agar ( I know it will work, but its expensive), regular pectin – and if you folks think that Pomona’s could work in this environment, I’ll give it another try. If anyone reading this has other gelling ideas, bring them on!
      Its all fun – my grownup sandbox!

      • A further update to this business of setting. I’ve decided that Agar is my geller of choice – at least for this one. Its super easy to use – a tbs per cup thoroughly mixed in to whatever you are doing, bring up to boil, take off boil, pour, that is it!
        I’m still going to give Certo a whirl with wine or cider vinegar/sugar combos. It requires lots of sugar, whereas Pomona’s is very much a low sugar (thus dependent on the natural sugars in the fruits one uses.)

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