Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fake Blood

I mean, Sorrel Jelly.

When Mike and I were in the beautiful island of Dominica way back in 2010, we drank lots of Sorrel Tea, also known as Christmas Tea.  I smuggled some seeds across the border for my mother, she tried to grow them, the Caribbean seeds were unhappy in our frigid climate, but she was smitten with sorrel so she kept trying....

She grew some last year- but just a measly few.  I got a tiny jar of dried petals for Christmas, which I saved and saved until I squandered them on Pink Lemonade for some event or 'nother.  This year, it's a different story.  She grew a whole row, leaving me plenty to play with.  

Sorrel is more commonly known 'round these here parts as Hibiscus, or Cranberry Hibiscus.  Or Roselle.  I prefer to call it Sorrel, because that's how I was introduced, but it is not to be confused with the french sorrel of sorrel bisque.   This sorrel has a very cranberry-esque flavor, and is wonderful as a warm or chilled tea- especially with ginger.   It is also related to okra, and I had been hearing rumors of its okra-like slime and goo.  Well sir, the rumors are true.  Imagine okra slime, but pleasantly tart, and one of the most gorgeous colors in the world.  

It takes a lot of sorrel to make a batch of jelly, but it takes no store-bought pectin.  This is the first jelly I've ever made.  After I made the jelly (five pounds of sorrel to six half pints of jelly!) I had all the spent fruit petals which I turned into six more half pints of jam.  I had to laboriously pick the seed pods out, but it was worth it as I almost like the jam more than the jelly.  (keep on the lookout for the jam recipe, she'll be coming)

blood and guts

It is important to do this when you have a lot of time and sorrel on your hands.  The 


                              takes a 

Sorrel Jelly makes 6 half pints, or 3 pints
takes about 4 hours

you will need
  •  a jelly bag OR a large tea towel
  • something to hang this tea towel/jelly bag from (I finally figured out a use for my above-the-stove-microwave)
  • large, wide, shallow non-reactive pan
  • canning pot for hot-water bath
for the jelly:
  • 5 pounds of sorrel fruit- seed pods included.  I picked the petals from the seeds, which helps a lot if you are planning on making jam as well
  • 7 cups water
  • 5 cups sugar (maybe a little less if you'd like- feel free to taste as you go)
Put the sorrel fruit and seeds in a large pot with the water. The water will not cover, you want to make a rich extract.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often, til the fruit is soft and the seed pods begin to become translucent.  This should take about 10-15 minutes, depending on how fresh the fruit is.  When the petals are soft, pour everything into a jelly bag, or a colander lined with a large tea towel.  I used a tea towel  and had to be very careful that the short edges did not slip under.  I then used a rubber band to secure it into a "bag" before I tied string around it and rigged it up to the handle of my microwave, allowing it to drip into a bowl placed below.  Experienced jelly-ers will no doubt have a hook and a jelly bag ready.

Allow juice to drip til no more drops out.  Do not squeeze, as this could make the jelly cloudy.  I did massage the bag about 2 hours in, just to loosen things up in there.  This juice is very viscus, so there will be no steady stream, but you will know when it's stopped dripping.  Mine took about 3 hours.

Pour juice into your wide, shallow pan and add the sugar.  Heat very low and stir to dissolve every last bit of sugar before you bring it to a boil.  Turn heat high to boil, and then turn heat down to maintain  gentle boil for about 10-15 minutes, or until a bit of jelly dabbed on a chilled plate from the freezer wrinkles slightly when pushed with a finger.  I actually never got to this stage- but it was thick and goopy, so I took my chances.  I cooked it for about 15 minutes, and although it never properly wrinkled, it had some give, so I just went ahead and canned it.  The leftover bit I refrigerated and it set within an hour.  

Sooo, when the jelly has gotten to the point you feel good about, pour boiling water over new canning lids you have placed in a heat-proof bowl.  Then ladle jelly into hot jars that have been boiled in a hot water bath for about 10 minutes, and are waiting patiently in warm water.  Make sure all the rims of the jars are clean (wipe with a damp paper towel or clean dish towel if needed), place on lids and tighten just til finger tight.  Place jars in a warm water bath and boil for 10 minutes to process.  Remove jars from water and let sit for 12 hours without jostling.  Check for un-sealed jars after a few hours and refrigerate any you find (I hardly ever find any).

And there you have a right proper jelly.....