How is everyone doing on the Christmas gifts front? Wrong question? I so hear you, I’m terrible this year. My timing sucks, I’m still waiting for a few online orders to arrive and have almost lost hope, that they will be here on time (keep your fingers crossed for me, please do!).
Here is my backup plan: Since I love to give away homemade goodies, not all is lost and I’ll throw in an extra kitchen shift involving chocolate truffles and chutney, just in case…
On the bright side, with a day left (in Germany we start to celebrate on the 24th of December), why not go for an easy, last minute, citrus jelly for friends, family and loved ones? What started once as a flavor experiment, has meanwhile become a staple in my jam & jelly repertoire: the combination of freshly squeezed mandarin juice, Aperol liqueur and vanilla is the perfect winter jelly for grown-ups. But be sure to keep a jar for yourself!
One last thing: If you do most of your gift wrapping on the very last day (like I do), maybe you can put these gift tags to good use. I have designed them over the last months for my own food and non-food gifts and thought, maybe you’d like to use them, too. Happy gift wrapping! Merry Christmas to you and your family! See you in 2011!
Note: Please note that these labels are for non-commercial use only. They’re best printed on thick paper, DIN A4 (or letter size), 150 dpi, 120gram/sq.meter, better yet 200gsm, which is comparable to the paper used for business cards (keep in mind that not all printers can handle paper that thick and check with the manual). Check printer settings and make sure that scaling is set to “none”, but do choose the highest possible quality.
Sterilizing the jars: Put clean and empty jars with separate screw lids in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Carefully remove them (I use my BBQ tongs), place them on clean kitchen towels and fill them with the boiling hot jelly.
Prepare the jelly: Half the mandarines and squeeze out their juice. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve and press down with a tablespoon or ladle until only the pulp is left in the sieve (discard pulp, you will need 600 ml juice). Pour into a large pot.
Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and add them to the pot, as well as the Aperol liqueur and the preserving sugar. Bring to a boil, then keep boiling for 3 to 5 minutes (check the instructions on your preserving sugar!), stirring regularly. Drizzle some jelly on a cold plate, it should set within a couple of seconds, otherwise keep boiling for some more minutes.
Fill sterilized jars with boiling hot jelly (use a funnel tube, if you own one), leaving less than a centimeter of head-space. Close jar with the lid (a tea towel helps to protect your hands) and allow to cool upside down for ten minutes before turning back to an upright position. Store jars in a dark and cool place (given a vacuum has developed).
Recipe source: own creation
Prep time: ~30min.
Ingredients (yields 5-6 small jars):
1,5-2 kg mandarines (or 600 ml freshly squeezed juice)
1 vanilla bean
100 ml Aperol liqueur (or Campari)
700g preserving sugar 1:1