Beaver Dam Bacon-Pepper Jam

In my last post I extracted liquid essence from a pound of bacon, which left me with about three cups of clear, intensely bacony flavored "juice" that I had no idea what to do with. In fact, the trying to decide what to do with this stuff was paralyzing. It had taken me many days to make it and I had also lived through getting splattered with a foamy pink bacon smoothie during the process---I didn't want to waste the stuff after that. While the bacon juice would have made an excellent cooking stock or base to a sauce, I was hoping to showcase it more--- I was hoping to use it in a way you wouldn't expect to taste meat.
I pondered bacon syrup (for waffles or pancakes) but settled on bacon jam. I know some are against pectin, but I find the stuff pretty amazing since it can form a network that traps any liquid and fruity bits in a spreadable gel. The issue with pectin is it is made of large molecules and dilutes the flavor of the preserves a little (some find the taste of pectin unsavory as well). But since neither bacon juice not chili peppers have naturally occurring pectin, I had to use some.
I used a recipe I love for pepper jelly but subbed the bacon juice for the water. Since I was using a low-sugar pectin from Whole Foods, I had the flexibility of subbing a little brown sugar for some of the white which I thought would complement the bacon flavor.
The result was more subtle than I expected....the bacon lends a meaty undertone that creeps up on you....overall making a much deeper pepper jelly. I found it great with cream cheese on crackers, as a glaze on meat and even on eggs.
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped jalapeno pepper
4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup bacon juice
1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
1 container (6 fluid ounces) liquid pectin

Remove stems, veins and most of the seeds of the bell and jalapeno peppers. Mince peppers.

In a 5-quart pot over high heat, combine bell peppers, jalapenos, suga, bacon juice and vinegar. Bring to a rolling boil; boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Stirring constantly, add the pectin and let mixture continue to cool for 2 minutes more. Stir for 1 minute. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and top with sterilized lids. Secure lids with bands and allow jars to cool slowly, creating a vacuum seal.

Bacon Juice


I was intrigued by the possibilities of gelatin clarification that Harold McGee wrote about in this NYT article.
After a failed attempt at "cake juice" left me with a lump of regurgitated yellow cake rather than an intensely flavored clear liquid, I searched the web for some better instructions.  I decided to make bacon consomme, because it seemed to have worked for other bloggers.  Everyone seemed enthused about their creations, but I could not find clear, step-by-step general formula for making this consomme.  What I did find was that people recommended using .5% to .7% gelatin (in grams) to liquid (in grams).
After much math-induced anxiety, I sat down with a calculator:
(A disclaimer: I'm by no means a perfectionist....please don't take my numbers as the ultimate truth)

•.5%-.7% gelatin for liquid so for 100g of liquid you need .7 g of gelatin.
• There are 7.5 grams in a packet of Knox gelatin,
• 236 grams in a cup of water,
• 224 grams in cup of oil,
•And 227 grams in a cup of butter
• This averages to 229 grams in a cup of liquid, assuming you are using a combination of fats and water....i.e. diluted bacon....
So, here is my equation (you can skip it and just go to the solution!)
for 7.5 g (in a pack of gelatin) / .5 =15  
15x 100g =1500 g of liquid needed for one packet= 1500g/ 230 g per cup =6.52 cups
or
7.5g/ .7g= 10.71 x100g=  1071 g/230g per cup=4.66 cups

The solution: You need between almost 5 cups and almost 7 cups of liquid for one pack of gelatin.
Here's the instructions adapted from Harold McGee's article:
1. Cook about a pound of your flavoring ingredient
2. add water so that the total volume is between 4 2/3 and 6 1/2 cups.
3. cook some more so that the water is flavored (like a soup)
4. let cool a little and puree everything in a blender  (be careful with this part--I ended up coated in pink, frothy, bacon smoothie)
5.  let one cup cool further and dissolve gelatin into it, letting stand 5 minutes.
6. mix that cup back into the warm liquid, dissolving the gelatin
7. strain your liquid into a container and freeze.
8. line a fine mesh sieve with cheese cloth and let your frozen liquid thaw through it into a container in the fridge.  This takes a couple days.
9. you should end up with clear, broth-like liquid in the container and a yucky jelly lump in your cheesecloth.
10. voila!