Monday, October 24, 2011

Part II: Pear Sage Jelly

In addition to the bounty from this weekend's excellent pear-pumpkin butter, I had the good fortune to think ahead and save the pear peelings and cores to produce an impressive yield of stock. Its pale color and potent aroma was just the stuff to make jelly.

I wanted to pump it up with something and eventually settled on sage from our garden, which has flavored countless meals all summer. I made a simple infusion with 1 packed cup of fresh-picked leaves and a cup of fruity white wine, which yielded about 2/3 cup of heady sage-pear stock. I then used the Sure-Jell insert's directions for apple jelly, which seemed a reasonable equivalent.

The resulting jelly finished with a fairly soft set that firmed up perfectly in the fridge. The only change I'd make is to add a handful of the smallest sage leaves you can find in the last few minutes of boiling instead of dropping them into the prepared jars just before filling. I had hoped the leaves would scatter and "float" in the clear jelly, but instead they gathered on the surface. Live and learn.

Pear Juice
peel and cores from about 6.5 lbs pears
16 cups water

Bring mix to a boil the reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cover, allowing to steep for another 30 minutes, or longer if you got busy doing something else -- like make pear-pumpkin butter. Pour into jelly bag over a large pot. Leave it alone for about an hour. Resist the urge to squeeze the bag.

Ditch trimmings and refrigerate stock until ready to use. I used about half of the stock to make the jelly.

Pear-Sage Jelly
1 cup fresh sage leaves, packed
1/4 cup tiniest sage leaves, reserved
1 cup fruity white wine
6 2/3 cups pear stock (more or less*)
9 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. butter
1 pkg. Sure-Jell pectin

Coarsely chopped 1 cup sage leaves and place in small pot with wine. Bring to a boil then simmer 3 minutes. Take off heat and cover, allowing to steep for 30 minutes. Strain and pour stock into measuring cup. You should have about 2/3 cup.

Add enough pear stock* to measure 7 cups. Add package of pectin and butter to juice and bring to a boil. When it hits a full rolling bubble, add sugar all at once and stir until incorporated.

Bring mix to a second boil; just before the lava-like bubbles erupt, add the reserved handful of tiny sage leaves. Stir often until it reaches a boil that cannot be stirred down. Give it 1 full minute then remove from heat. Skim foam well before ladling into prepared jars.

Finish in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave in water for about 5 minutes, then remove to heatproof surface to cool completely. Made about a dozen half-pints.

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