At the risk of turning this blog into 50 things to do with blackberries, I have a couple more recipes to get through. Maybe I’m tight but picking wild food for free is just so satisfying and I’m busy stocking up on jams and jellies while the bounty lasts! The preparation time given in the recipe does not include picking the fruit, which is a lovely relaxing way to while away a couple of hours – a stick with a hook on the end is useful – the best berries are always just out of reach!
The crab apples are plentiful too now and although Bramley cooking apples can happily be substituted, crab apples are stashed with pectin and the juice always seems to be a lovely rose colour regardless of the fruit.
Because of this high pectin content it is always very simple to make crab apple jellies, and although I’ve included a recipe, one isn’t really needed. Equal quantities of crab apples with another fruit, just covered in water and simmered until the apple are soft. Then tip into a jelly bag and leave to drip overnight.
Don’t be tempted to give the bag a squeeze – it will make the liquid cloudy. Then measure the juice and add an equal quantity of granulated sugar and boil. Setting point is reached at 104°C, but it is advisable to keep a plate in the fridge and place a spoonful of jelly on it when you think it is ready. Dragging a spoon through should leave a wrinkled surface.
Turn the heat off and on whilst you are checking for a set, it is usually a good idea to give the jelly a few minutes back in the fridge, and if you leave the pan cooking it may go too far and produce an over-set and firm jelly. If this does happen, add some more water, bring back to the boil and try again.
A variety of herbs and spices can be added to these jellies, and a lot of fun can be had experimenting with different combinations. The rosemary in this recipe makes it the perfect accompaniment to serve with roast or grilled lamb, duck and pork.
- 1350g crab apples
- 1350ml water
- 1350g blackberries
- 20g fresh rosemary
- granulated sugar
- cut the crab apples in half and add to a stainless preserving, or large saucepan
- cover with the water and add the blackberries and rosemary
- bring to the boil and simmer until the apples are soft
- tip into a jelly bag and leave to drip overnight
- measure the juice and add an equal amount of sugar - so for 1 litre of juice use 1 kg of sugar
- stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to the boil
- boil until setting point is reached - 104°C, but also do the wrinkle test on a cold plate
- remove any scum on the surface with a slotted spoon
- pour into clean, sterilized jars (place jars and lids in a pre-heated oven 150°C for 10 minutes)
- fill to the top to exclude as much air as possible and place a waxed paper disc (wax side down) on top of the jelly
- put the lids on and tighten
- this jelly will keep for one year unopened
- try experimenting with different berries and herbs
- yields 5 x 500g jars