One of my favorite things to eat is cheese. Soft cheese, hard cheese, French cheese, goat cheese - almost any kind of cheese you name, I like. Last night, I had a lovely cheese sampler plate at one of my favorite restaurants, and it got me thinking about things that go well with cheese. My mind immediately went to the Hot Pepper and Garlic Jelly I made for a friend's wedding, which paired beautifully with the cheese plate.
Almost nothing pairs better with cheese than wine, so I decided to start with a nice, meaty shiraz. The fresh basil leaves, which are steeped in the wine, add just enough of flavor, so as not to be overwhelming. This jelly pairs wonderfully with this super sharp cheddar, although I'm sure it would be just as wonderful with a goat cheese.
This is also a very easy recipe to make, and active cooking and canning time is about 30 minutes. I've also included some easy canning instructions, which won't require any special equipment.
Basil Wine Jelly
Yield - 4 (1/2 pt) jars
2 c red wine
1/2 c basil leaves, cut into strips
1/4 c lemon juice
3 1/2 c sugar
1 (3 oz) pkg liquid pectin (Certo or whichever brand is available)
Bring 1 c wine to boil in a small saucepan. Add basil leaves, remove from heat, and cover. Allow to steep for 30-45 minutes. Strain out basil leaves and discard. Add remaining wine, lemon juice, and sugar to large saucepan, as well as the basil wine. Bring to a rolling boil, and boil 1 minute. Stir in liquid pectin, stirring constantly, and return to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Pour into 1/2 pint jars and seal.
*The easiest way to can is this - wash and dry canning jars thoroughly. Place lids and rings in a pot of barely simmering water. Once jelly is ready, fill a jar, leaving about a 1/8" headspace. With tongs, remove lid and ring from water, place on jar, and tighten, although not all the way. Turn jar upside down on a dishtowel. Repeat with remaining jars. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Turn upright and allow to seal. Tighten rings on all jars. If any of the jars don't seal, simply store in the refrigerator once cool. The other jars can be stored in a pantry for 8 months to a year, if it lasts that long.