The Jelly Bitch

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I have spent the last few weeks hustling, trying to make a little bit of extra mullah on the side through the sales of my most infamous jellies. Jelly is beautiful – it is like a little piece of art – each jar of jelly a wonder to behold, the colours jewel-like, the texture sort of wobbly with a sweet and delicate firmness that can handle hot muffins and toast like nothing else. Jam is so passé, even if I do say so myself – and I have too, I’m hustling jelly here. P1030634 My Organic Apple & Chilli Jelly absolutely rules the cheese board – and with good reason it has a sweet, Somerset apple top-note that is immediately followed by the deep warmth and kick of chilli. I gave my people tasters: the Chill Jelly with a side of Cornish Yarg, the Apple & Blackberry with some fresh crusty baguette, plenty of home-made vanilla fudge and hand-made salted milk chocolates with crushed pistachios  to boot.

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What I began to notice was that lots of folk would come and have a good free feast and then bugger off with not so much as a penny spent – you know exactly when someone has tasted your wares and then decided not to buy, they will avoid your eye and then silently slope off – this goes with the territory however, with every sloper there is another purchaser…

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To do a stall is a lot of hard work but so worthwhile to hang out with the general – and often utterly strange and hilarious – public in a joyful sharing of all things scrumdiddly and beautiful. On top of that I made enough to buy a fire pit for the garden!

Pea. S. The Bath W.I. Ladies do not like fudge…

Black me up baby

Blackberrying is a great way to keep la offspring entertained on a warm autumnal Sunday afternoon, grab yourself a basket – if your feeling twee, or a plastic box/bag if your not – jump on your bikes and get the troops into this fine crispy, sunny weather of September.
Children adore picking blackberries – not only do they get to stuff their faces with sweet, black bejeweled treats they also unite with their family to collect goodies for everyone to enjoy. It’s a win win situation.
Once home the possibilities of what to do with your glut of free hedgerow booty are enormous – the one tip is to act fast – (blackberries don’t keep, but they do freeze like a dream).
Apple and Blackberry crumble anyone? With a fat blob of golden clotted cream, or a scoop of indulgent vanilla ice-cream to melt over it? How about throwing them into a blender with bananas, natural yogurt, a squirt of honey, a splash of milk or soya and some ice – whizz it up, serve in tall glasses with a straw and feel, utterly, virtuous.
For my family though, the ultimate result with these juicy babies is to make blackberry and apple jelly. An Autumnal delight of sweet, translucent scarlet, that has seen me this week constantly dashing to the bakers to buy bread so that I, well, we – ahem – can 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.
This jam is without doubt the best jam in town, bar raspberry – just. It is incredibly easy to make and the taste captures the warmth and sweetness of these very English fruits. The one thing I would advise when making preserves is to make sure you have enough of that elusive ingredient…time.
Jelly is slightly more long-winded than jam – but it is worth it – and for children, and many adults too, the lack of seeds and actual fruit pulp makes this much more family-friendly.
Apple & Blackberry Jelly
A kilo of apples, roughly chopped
A kilo of blackberries
A kilo-ish of preserving sugar
Method
Roughly chop your apples, the fresher the better, but fallen fruit is fine.  Throw them into your jam pan along with the berries and about 1.2litres of water. If you haven’t got enough berries – change the weights and make up the slack with more apples. This has been a bad year for berries and apples alike what with all that endless rain.
Gently simmer until the fruit is soft and squishy – about 20 minutes. Get your jelly-bag ready, the stand set-up. Very gently and slowly spoon the hot fruit mush into the jelly-bag – making sure you have a bowl or jug underneath to catch the juice. (I have on several occasions gone too fast with this and the bag has literally exploded sending boiling hot fruit all over the ceilings and walls – so be warned, go slowly and maybe add a few extra pegs to keep your bag attached safely to its stand.)
Leave the juice to collect over-night. Try to refrain from squeezing the fruit as it makes the liquid cloudy and you will loose that beautiful translucent scarlet look that makes this particular recipe stunning.
 
Measure the juice – depending on the quality of the fruit you should have just over a litre – hopefully 1.2 litres. For each 500ml-600ml of juice use about 450 or 500g of sugar.
Put the crimson liquid into the pan. Bring it gently to the boil – when it begins to get hot throw in the sugar and stir until the sugar has melted. Turn up the heat and boil hard for about 10 minutes – test the jelly for setting point using a saucer (store it in the freezer) if the jelly wrinkles when you push it on the cold plate – it is ready. Remove the jelly from the hob and fill up your hot sterilised jars immediately.
(I find the best way to sterilise jars is to wash them in hot soapy water then allow them to dry out completely in a warm oven. Take the hot jars out of the oven as you need to use each one and screw on the lid as quickly as you can.)
Et Voila! Your family-created beautiful apple and blackberry jelly. Bon Appetit!

As seen on Crumbs.

Apple and Blackberry Jelly

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.