Helle’s Kitchen Hard Cider Jelly: A Tribute To Elle


Woodchuck Cider Jelly

By now you may have heard that one of my dear friends and blogging mentors, Elle of Elle’s New England Kitchen, passed away suddenly on Tuesday morning. She was a generous friend, one of the most supportive and talented people I know, and had a wicked sense of humor.  Of course, there’s so much more I could say about the kind of person she was, but at the moment I’m still kind of trying to keep it together.

When food bloggers mourn, we turn to what we know: food.  We have organized an event celebrating Elle’s life and food for next weekend, February 8-9, 2014. We’re calling it #ElleAPalooza. Food bloggers from all over the country and world, who knew and loved Elle, will be cooking from her blog, inspired by her recipes. I hope you’ll join us on the Facebook page, Friends of Elle, and either cook with us or follow along on the #ElleAPalooza event page.

If it was ever possible to fall in love with an ingredient, Elle loved Woodchuck Hard Cider. It’s made in Vermont, practically right next door to her New Hampshire home, and I could never find it down here in Miami. I kept forgetting to tell her that with the opening of our new Trader Joe’s, Woodchuck can now be found here! I know as the days pass, I’ll think of a zillion things I want to tell her, but won’t have the chance.

Aside from #ElleAPalooza, I kept remembering how much Elle loved her Woodchuck Cider, and even created several recipes around it.  Since I don’t think you’re probably game for sorbet in February, I thought I would create something special in her honor: Woodchuck Cider Jelly.  Elle also loved Halloween very nearly as much as I do. She couldn’t wait for the calendar to turn to October 1st, so she could change the header on her blog to “Helle’s New England Kitchen”.  😀 You can help me give it a better name, later.   In the meantime, this is what I’m calling it, and here’s the recipe (standard boiling water bath canning instructions apply regarding heating your jars and lids for long-term storage):

Helle’s Kitchen Hard Cider Jelly


  • 3  12 oz. bottles of Woodchuck Hard Cider
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 lemon, cut as a wedge
  • 2″ knob of fresh ginger, cut into 4 or 5 thick pieces.
  • 5 tsp. Pomona’s Pectin calcium water
  • 5-1/2 tsp. Pomona’s Pectin
  • 3/4 cup sugar


Put a small glass or ceramic plate (freezer-safe) into the freezer, for gel-testing later.  Start the heat under your canning kettle.

Add the cider, water, ginger and calcium water to a large saucepan (about 4 quarts).  Squeeze the juice from the quarter lemon into the pot, then add the whole wedge.  Heat over medium heat until it begins to simmer.

In a small bowl, mix the pectin and sugar together until well blended.

Raise the heat under the cider mixture to high and bring to a rolling boil. It might foam up, so adjust your heat accordingly. You want a fast boil, but you don’t want to boil over!

Remove the lemon wedge and ginger pieces from the pot.  Add the pectin/sugar mixture to the boiling cider and stir vigorously for about a minute or two, until the sugar and pectin are completely dissolved.  Remove the pot from the heat.

You may want to perform a gel test at this point. Take one of the small plates out of the freezer and put about a teaspoon of the hot liquid jelly onto it. Return the plate to the freezer and set your kitchen timer for 2 minutes.  At the end of the 2 minutes, remove the plate and hold it vertically. If the jelly stays put and wrinkles when you push an edge with the tip of a spoon, you’re good to go. In fact, if the whole thing slides in one piece, that’s perfect!  Also a good opportunity to taste the jelly and make sure that it’s sweet enough.

Ladle the hot liquid jelly into your hot canning jars, leaving 1/4″ – 1/2″ space at the top. Clean the rims with a damp, clean paper towel, top with a lid, and twist on the lid ring, finger-tight.  Put the jars back into your boiling water canning kettle, put the lid on the kettle, bring it back up to a rapid boil, and boil for 5 minutes.  Remove the jars from the pot at the end of the 5 minutes, and place on a towel or newspaper covered surface to cool completely. The lids should make a ping or popping sound as they seal.

(Recipe Note:  I only use Pomona’s Universal Pectin in my recipes. Each pack consists of 2 packets: one smaller packet that contains the calcium to be mixed with water (that’s the “calcium water”), and one larger packet that contains the pectin.)

This recipe made five half-pints (8 ounce jars). I’m pretty sure that it’s safe for small children and other living things.  This is an apple jelly with a kick in the taste buds! Delicious with just about everything I can think of.  I think you’ll kind of love it.

I’m keeping at least one of these for myself. What to do with the rest?  Well, watch this space!  An auction of Elle’s jewelry from her Etsy shop, Helle’s Belles, along with autographed cookbooks, food, and all kinds of interesting things (not necessarily food) that you’ll want(!), is being organized to benefit Elle’s husband and 4 young children in this hard time.  I’m thinking of donating the remaining jars of Helle’s Kitchen Hard Cider Jelly under the Freakin’ Flamingo label to the auction. Along with a sampler or two of FF’s “famous” jams.

A fund has also been set up through PayPal to benefit the Ritchotte Family: Self-Healing Journal, In Loving Memory of Elle Ritchotte   Even a small donation will help.

This is what we do.
Hard Cider Jelly on Punk Domestics
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  1. Posted February 1, 2014 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    Looks wonderful and what a wonderful way to honor Elle! <3 you my dear sweet friend!

    • RJ Flamingo
      Posted February 1, 2014 at 6:09 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Judy! I think Elle would have liked this – it’s kinda “her”, you know? xox

  2. Posted February 1, 2014 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Beautiful, Renee. That hard cider jelly sounds great! I want to buy a jar. Love you, friend.

    • RJ Flamingo
      Posted February 1, 2014 at 6:07 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Jenny. I swear, I think I’m going to give up fruit and make nothing but alcoholic jellies. LOL! 😀 Love you back, honey.

  3. Posted February 1, 2014 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Perfect! Elle would have loved that jelly – especially coming from you! :)

    • RJ Flamingo
      Posted February 4, 2014 at 12:27 am | Permalink

      Awww… Thanks, Jenn! :-)

  4. Posted February 1, 2014 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    Well apparently you and I remember the hard cider drinkin’ side of Elle the most. Seems only appropriate. 😉

    I will be making this very soon. Looks so good. She would have loved the crap out of this. <3

    • RJ Flamingo
      Posted February 1, 2014 at 6:05 am | Permalink

      I think she would have, too, Heather. Nothing like a good twist. 😉

  5. Posted February 1, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    This sounds tasty! In honor of Elle, I’d love to buy some of that hard cider jelly. You sell it in your shop right? Never mind…I’m going to look right now. Thanks Renee!

    • RJ Flamingo
      Posted February 1, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

      LOL! Renee, I’m donating the other 4 jars of this jelly to our auction, benefiting Elle’s family. Hopefully, you’ll get your chance. 😉

  6. Posted February 3, 2014 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    Lovely tribute Renee…

    • RJ Flamingo
      Posted February 4, 2014 at 12:30 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Michelle. :-)

  7. Posted February 5, 2014 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    What a shock! I only just heard. I was a long-time reader of her blog but never had the chance to meet her in person. My sympathies to her family and all her friends.

  8. Posted February 11, 2014 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Oh Renee, it’s perfect! I, too, love Woodchuck and hard cider in all forms. I can’t wait to try some.
    I keep waiting for her to post something, it’s the hardest part about knowing a friend through the screen- it seems like they can’t possibly be gone. :(
    I send you loves and hugs and all good energy.

  9. sammiee
    Posted March 8, 2015 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Can you please tell me a substitute for the calcium water …. we dont have that …. I am would like to make this, thank you

    • RJ Flamingo
      Posted March 8, 2015 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      Hi, Sammiee! As explained in the post, this recipe is for use with Pomona’s Universal Pectin. The package includes a large packet which contains the pectin powder, as well as a smaller packet which contains the calcium powder which you mix with water to make “calcium water”. You can find Pomona’s Pectin at all Whole Foods, Wegman’s, Williams-Sonoma, or you can order it from Amazon.com. I hope this makes it a bit clearer. I do hope you’ll make it!

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