I feel a certain amount of guilt at this time of year. Although I've made tons of jam, tray-frozen fruits and peas and made winter soups from our vegetables, I find myself averting my eyes from the damson tree outside the front door, as it's still laden with fruit, even after we relieved it of kilos of its tubby blue offerings. I try to convince myself that the chickens will benefit from the glut, but still the guilt of wasting precious food from our land niggles me.
The apple trees similarly chastise me with their pointy fingered branches.
Thanks in part to the rugby, Hubby has peeled me bags and bags of massive cooking apples and these are now stashed in the freezer for winter crumbles or apple sauce. However there's only so many apple pies I can make, so I looked about for a new recipe to utilise some of the apples.
I found a recipe that really took my fancy in The DK Preserving Book by Lynda Brown, possibly the best preserving book ever! I've borrowed and borrowed this book from the library, moving it from my ticket then to the 8yo's then onto the 6yo's.... I'd be very grateful if DK would kindly donate me my own copy after this shameless plug!! (One can hope!!) I would buy my own copy normally but I've just taken out a mortgage to buy the 8yo new school shoes. Who'da thought plain black shoes could be so chronically expensive?.... All to do with moving into size 2.5 or some such nonsense.... Anyhoo, I digress.. Breathe.
I've slightly adapted the original recipe, adding lemon zest to the chilli flakes, although a "friend" has suggested this looks like spiders trapped in jelly! Nice! You may or may not decide to add the spiders.... but remember it is Halloween soon! My attempt turned out to be opaque while also being a deep orange, the colour of autumn sunshine. FYI, the actual picture in the recipe book is a soft watery gold.
This jelly is delicious with cheese or meats so I'm making some for Christmas presents.... but don't tell anyone!!
You will need: A muslin or jelly bag for straining and 3 small sterilised jars.
Keeps for 9 months.
- 675g (1.5lb) sour cooking apples with skin on, roughly chopped
- Approx 454g (1lb) granulated sugar per pint of juice added at stage II of the process
- Juice (and zest if using) of 1 lemon
- 1-2 tsp of dried chilli flakes
- Put chopped apples, including cores and pips into a preserving pan. Add 1.7 litres (3 pints) of cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30-40 mins till the apples are stewed down. Mash to a pulp.
- Spoon the pulp into a muslin bag. I use a muslin cloth and tie with string hanging it from a strong hook over a clean blow.
- Leave to drip overnight. DO NOT SQUEEZE IF YOU WANT A CLEAR JELLY.
- The next day measure the clear juice, adding 454g (1lb) of sugar for every 600ml (1 pint) of juice. You should have approximately 1.7l/3 pints of juice.
- Pour the juice into a large clean pan with the sugar and lemon juice (but not the zest.) Bring to the boil, stirring till the sugar dissolves, then bring to a rolling boil and remove any scum from the surface.
- Continue to boil for 20-30 minutes or till the jelly reaches a setting point. This is crucial as you really need a good strong jelly. Remove pan from heat while you test for a set.
- Leave to cool for 10 minutes then stir in chilli flakes and zest. Ladle into warm sterilized jars, cover with wax discs and seal. Label when cool.