Sunday, 2 October 2011

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Dolgo crab apples, rubies on a tree

I have been poorly this week, battling a nasty chest infection, so as part of my convalescence I decided to make some more crab apple jelly.
Although I already have a few jars from my own crab apples I couldn't resist picking some ruby red Dolgo apples from a tree belonging to one of my fellow allotment holders, who generously allows us all to help ourselves every year. As Katie and I joined others to fill our baskets, another allotment holder asked me to post my method for making fruit jelly so here it is...

It is a simple recipe and not my own as I follow the late, great Christopher Lloyd in all things gardening and cooking especially the instructions in his marvellous Gardener Cook in which he tells us to use 1lb of caster sugar per pint of juice when making jelly.  

So the first thing to do is to make the juice, which is simple enough to do. Top, tail and chop up your apples and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, with a little extra, which stops the fruit from burning, then boil for around 15 minutes. Once the fruit has swollen and softened, pour the whole lot into a muslin suspended over a pan or a natty juice bag like the one I bought a few years ago and leave it covered overnight to do its thing.

When you have assembled enough sterilised jars you are ready to make your jelly but don't be tempted to wring the bag or the end result will be cloudy. Using Christopher's formula you measure your juice, do the maths and I warm the sugar in the oven, which speeds things up. 

Put your juice and sugar on a rolling boil and once it has started to resemble molten lava start skimming off the scum. Crab apples have loads of pectin so you shouldn't have long before you get a wrinkle on the back of a spoon, which is a set, and the signal it's time to turn off the heat and pot up.

In potting up, I put the jelly in a metal jug and use a potting collar to keep the jars squeaky clean. Screwing each lid on tightly I enjoy in an hour or so hearing them popping as the jars cool down and the steam creates a nice sterile seal, which should keep them fresh for months maybe even up to a year.

We love crab apple jelly in our family with everything, especially Sunday roasts, so it never hangs about long enough for me to know its true shelf life. It's certainly a lovely way to get your apple a day. 

1 comment:

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