Are you hosting a New Year’s Eve bash this year? Take your cheese platter to the next level with author of “Saving the Seasons,” Kevin West’s signature apple spread infused with spicy bay leaves and rich Cabernet Sauvignon. The jelly also pairs perfectly with a hearty roast pork or juicy chicken.
Make your own gourmet preserve
Apple Jelly with Bay Leaf Infused WithSIMI Alexander Valley Landslide Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
3 pounds small, tart, crisp apples—preferably green or heirloom varieties
6 cups water
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 large bay leaves
2/3 cups SIMI Alexander Valley Landslide Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
4 cups sugar
1) Coarsely chop the apples, including the peels and cores. Place them in a deep pot and add the water, which should not quite cover the fruit. Weight down the apples with a lid one size smaller than your cooking pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the apples start to collapse and break apart. Turn off the heat and allow the cooked apples to cool for half an hour.
2) Strain the apples through a damp jelly bag and capture the liquid in a bowl. (You could also use a double layer of damp cheesecloth or a clean tea towel that you have moistened and wrung out.) You should have 5 to 5 ½ cups of this pectin stock, which will be cloudy. It’s fine to lightly squeeze or massage the bag in order to extract more liquid if you’re short, but stop before you squeeze our particles or chunks that would cloud the jelly.
3) Divide the pectin stock into two equal portions. You will have a better and more reliable outcome if you cook the jelly in two batches—and I promise that two small batches cook almost as quickly as one large batch.
4) Choose a wide, low-sided pot such as a 6-quart enameled casserole. Add half the pectin stock, 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/3 cup SIMI Alexander Valley Landslide Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of the sugar. Stirring frequently, reduce at a full boil for 12-14 minutes, or until mats of large bubbles—I call them “frog eyes”—start to foam up. Turn off the heat and check the set by spooning ½ teaspoon of hot jelly onto a chilled saucer and placing it in the freezer for 1 minute. If it forms a skin that wrinkles when you push your finger through it, the jelly is ready. Otherwise, bring the contents of the pot back to a boil for one minute longer, then check again. (You’ll reach the gel set faster if you’re using supplemental dried apple pectin.)
5) Working quickly now before the jelly sets up, discard the bay leaf and ladle the hot jelly into two half-pint jars. Seal, and store the cooled jars in the refrigerator for up to a month. (If you plan to can the jelly, leave ¼” headspace, seal, and process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.)
6) Repeat with the remaining ingredients.