November 4, 2011

Carrot Jelly (work in progress)

Last time my wife was away I decided to break out my juicer and start making fruit/vegetable juices.  It took me a while to figure out what I like and I discovered I really like carrot juice.  One of the local grocery chains carries these huge 25 pound bags of carrots just for juices.  That is a lot of carrots to deal with.

Obviously the base of any juices I make utilize carrots.  Carrot juice is pleasantly sweet and great straight up or mixed...well mixed with anything, but my favorite is probably 1/2 and 1/2 with apples.  Still, it takes a long time to get through the bag, so I wanted to figure something else to do with the carrots.

Carrot Jelly came to mind.  Why not?  You can make jelly with just about any other fruit juice.  A quick search online gave me recipes for carrot jelly that is more of a gelatin dish used in Indian cuisine.  that won't do, at least for my needs.  I want something I can spread on my toast and send to my mother, who makes a prodigious amount of jelly every year.  Of course, she has her own orchard.  Not a lot of trees, but an honest-to-goodness orchard that has been in business for over 165 years.

A little more digging I'm able to find several recipes that involve boiling a specified amount of carrots in a specified amount of water for x number of minutes and then using the infused water to make jelly. That won't do either.  I'm going to have to come up with my own recipe.

I thought I'd start with an existing recipe and go from there.  My starting point was one of these boiled carrot water recipes.  That recipe added a packet of lemon Kool-aid and some sugar.  I also consulted some jelly making websites and read the labels for pectin boxes.  In the end I just mashed a bunch of stuff together.

This was my initial recipe:
3.5C strained carrot juice
5 C granulated sugar
1t citric Acid
3T low/no sugar pectin

Boil carrot juice for 1 minute, add remaining ingredients and return to boil for 1’
Seal in containers   

As the first batch was 100% experiment, I didn't seal them in jars but put them in jars and placed them in the refrigerator.  They spread find and taste pretty good, but it's not ready yet.  I gave some to a friend without telling them what it was to get their reaction.

This morning I made some corrections and put up two batches into a dozen jelly jars.  After their water bath the jars are on the table cooling off.

This was my 2nd attempt at a recipe.  I really liked the taste, but until I can get into a jar to sample it, who knows:
1.75 Cups strained Carrot Juice
1.75 Cups strained Apple Juice
5 Cups Evaporated Cane Juice
1 teaspoon Citric Acid
3 Tablespoons Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin

Boil juices for 1 minute, add remaining ingredients and return for boil for 1 minute.  Seal in containers.

Lately I have been using cane sugar or evaporated cane juice.  They seem to range in color from looking like brown sugar all the way to just darker than regular granulated sugar.  The evaporated cane juice I used was pretty light in color and on the last batch I ran out, so I substituted 2 cups of white/granulated sugar.

I think it is very important to strain the fresh juice.  I simply used a jelly bag strainer.  There is still a lot of fine particulate matter (pulp)  in the fresh juice that clouds up the jelly.

EDIT: Gah!  I had in there to let the mixture boil for 5 minutes after adding the pectin.  That is bad because you can over-cook the pectin and the mixture simply won't gel.  I think I did boil for 5 minutes the first time, but I didn't can the jelly so I lucked out when it gelled in the refrigerator.  I tried a new batch with the 1 minute boil time and exactly 10 minutes processing (we live at approximately 3,000ft ASL), and the jelly didn't gel.  I'm not sure what is wrong, but I'll figure it out. I could try to fix these two batches, but I won't.  I just had some and it tasted great in my opinion, just a tad sweet and (obviously) too runny.  I think it would make an excellent pancake syrup, so this initial recipe is going to have the pectin removed altogether and serve as an alternate syrup.

Special Note: I'm currently in the hospital having my bone marrow harvested.  Instead of simply skipping some posts or trying to blog the day before, during, or after having several hundred long needles jabbed in my hip, I figured I'd just have Blogger post some entries on a schedule.

Although I am undergoing surgery, I'm well aware that I'm on the easy side of this transplant.  If you could say a prayer for the recipient of my marrow, a woman with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, I'd be appreciative.  If you decided to get yourself on the National Marrow Donor Program, I'd be freaking ecstatic.

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