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.
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!
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.
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
600g finely chopped garlic (about 10 bulbs)
60g hot pepper flakes
Pectin sufficient for 4 litres: use directions for the pectin you normally use
- Heat up a water bath and the jars you will use (@ 18 x 250 ml jars)
- Peel and finely dice garlic: I suggest using a food processor.
- Heat wine, vinegar, salt, and most of the sugar until dissolved
- Add garlic, hot peppers and simmer for 2-3 minutes
- Remove from heat, and add in remaining sugar/pectin
- Return to boil until sugar pectin has dissolved, then remove from heat
- Pour into jars and boil in water bath for about 5 minutes.
- 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.