An Autumnal delight of a sweet translucent scarlet jelly has seen me, this week, constantly dashing to the bakers to buy bread so that I may continue to hoover it up without actually having to resort to sticking a spoon in the jar and sucking on that, which, believe me, I have been pushed to do on several occasions.
After lamenting a lack of fifty thousand grand, much needed for us to purchase a new home for our family, my pops bought me my very own jam pan, a jelly bag and stand, a thermometer and the River Cottage book on preserves. He thinks I can make the dough by selling my home-made hedgerow elixcir off the street – I think he’s right.
So, last week we hunted out the very last vestiges of the blackberries, the recent rain has all but rotted the lot, but we managed to bag enough to do several batches of this most alluring and tasty jelly. The apples, also at the end of the season, needing rescuing from their lofty perch and so Felix climbed up and recovered the last blushing few.
A jelly is slightly more time consuming that a jam, but I prefer it, finding it easier to make, and the extra time allows you to sort out jars and the subsequent sterilising process that goes in hand.
Joyously the process begins with nothing more than cutting up the apples – mishapen, home-grown organic beauties, who’s sweet crunch leaves you thirsting for more – you simply remove the stalks but leave the core and peel, just evenlyish cutting them all up and bunging them in the pan with your glistening dark berries. Add to your pan a good litre or so of water making sure the fruit isn’t covered but is nicely nestling in a good bath of eau. Bring to the boil and gently simmer until it turns a deep crimson and the fruit is all soft and squishy – an hour or two should do the trick – don’t forget about it though.
Gently place your pulp and juice into the jelly bag and leave overnight for the juices to slowly drip down. Your patience will be well rewarded as you return on the morrow and find a jug full of dark fruit juice.
When you are ready to make your jelly pour the juice into a jam pan and slowly bring it to the boil, when it is boiling add 450g of sugar for every 650ml. When the sugar has melted boil your crimson brew as hot as you can for about ten minutes. Test the jelly for setting point using a saucer (store it in the freezer) if it wrinkles when you push it then it is ready, remove it from the hob and immediatly fill up your jars.
I find the best way to sterilise my jars is to wash them and the lids in a bowl of hot soapy water then allow them to completely dry out in a warm oven. Add the jelly to the warmed jars and screw on the lid straight away – eh voila – your perfect apple and blackberry jelly.