Balsamic-grape jelly

Posted on June 25, 2020 at 7:34 pm

Our home city recently lost a culinary institution. One of their specials was to serve their grilled cheese sandwich with what they called “balsamic jam”. I never had their grilled cheese, and their “balsamic jam” was actually “balsamic jelly” made by adding balsamic vinegar to grape jelly in a 1:3 ratio of vinegar to jelly.

This is my tribute to that. It’s not the same, but it is absolutely delicious paired with grilled cheese, poured over cream cheese, or on toast!

  • 3 cups balsamic vinegar (700ml / 24fl oz)
  • 2 cups grape juice (16fl oz / 475ml)
  • 1 cup water (240ml / 8fl oz)
  • 1lb / 450g sugar, reserve about 1/2 cup
  • 10 allspice berries
  • 2tsp vanilla flavour
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • 2tsp calcium water
  • 2tsp Pomona’s Universal Pectin Powder
  • Put the first 9 ingredients in a pot. Bring it to an active simmer, not boiling. Switch it off and come back to the mix the next day.

    Strain out the spices. Add the 2tsp calcium water to the mix. Bring to a boil. Stir the pectin into the reserved sugar and stir vigorously to incorporate.

    Makes about 7 cups of jelly.

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    Low Sugar Jam

    Posted on July 2, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Here in Alabama, u-pick is really coming into its own. Today we picked nearly 2 gallons of blueberries at an awesome local farm (Bear Mountain) that grows its berries according to organic principles (that means, they haven’t paid the federal government for the privilege of the “certified organic” label!)

    But you only really get the benefit of the full awesome flavour and colour of fresh, seasonal fruit if you avoid cooking them into oblivion, which you will with conventional pectin.

    This is why I always, and only, recommend Pomona’s Universal Pectin (Amazon link). Unlike conventional pectin you can make jam with NO added sugar, or with alternative sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.

    Once you go Pomona’s you will never go back to adding more sugar than fruit to your preserves!

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    Spiced apple jelly

    Posted on January 2, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Here’s a simple jelly recipe to start you off – lightly spiced apple jelly. Makes about six 8-ounce (250ml) jars.

    4 cups / 1 litre unsweetened apple juice

    1 package regular fruit pectin

    7 cups / 1.75 litres sugar

    3 cloves

    3 allspice berries

    1/4 teaspoon ginger powder

    Prepare jars and lids according to instructions for hot water bath canning. Grind the spices into a fine powder and add to the sugar.

    Add apple juice to a large, non-rective pan. Whisk the pectin into the juice until completely incorporated. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently.

    Once the juice is boiling add the sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and quickly skim off any foam. Add to heated jars, leaving 0.25inch /0.5cm headroom and process in hot water bath canner according to instructions.

    The essence of creative cooking is to be able to customise and tweak recipes to your own taste. This recipe makes a gently perfumed, spiced apple jelly – if you like a stronger flavour, increase the spices or change them around as you wish to make a completely custom flavour.

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    Jelly? Jam? Which is which?

    Posted on January 2, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Being from the UK, I tend to call fruit preserves “jam”. Being in the US, most folks call them “jelly”. Both useages are, in fact, wrong, and here I explain why. The approximate definitions, in ascending order of fruitiness, are roughly as follows.


    Jelly is the thickened (with pectin), sweetened juice of fruits or vegetables. Ideally it should be crystal clear, no pulp or seeds. If the fruit juice is thickened with gelatin instead of pectin it forms a dessert called “jelly” in British English and “jell-o” in US English.


    Jam is made with the pulp and juice of one fruit or vegetable, sweetened and thickened either with its own pectin or with added pectin. There should be no lumpy bits, the fruit/vegetable pulp should be evenly distributed through the jam. A fruit spread is a jam made without added sugar.


    A conserve is a jam made with fruit stewed in sugar. There should be recognisable pieces of fruit in the conserve, or whole fruits if they are small like berries. This style is also sometimes called “whole fruit jam”.

    Fruit butter

    Fruit butters are the whole fruit, gently cooked, then aggressively cooked down until it has a texture similar to dairy butter. Most recipes talk about cooking rapidly on a stove top in a non-reactive pan – I use a crock-pot (slow cooker) with the lid off instead, as this allows the fruit to cook down and thicken without a risk of burning.


    Marmalade is made with the whole citrus fruit, chopped or sliced peel, and sugar. Citrus fruits are usually rich in pectin. A lot of commercial pectin sold for home preserve making is derived from the white pith that lies under the skin of the fruit. Most marmalades sold in stores are orange, but any citrus fruit can be used to make a marmalade, such as lemon, lime, or grapefruit.

    Fruit curd

    Curds are off in their own category. They are a dessert topping made with egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice, and zest, gently cooked until it becomes thick and and spreadable. They are also delicious and well worth making!

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