Making The Most Of Nature’s Harvest: Apple And Rosemary Jelly

Question: what do you do when you have a glut of cooking apples and the rosemary bush needs cutting back?

Answer: Make apple and rosemary jelly.

That’s exactly what I did this week, along with apple and chilli jelly. Apples are so full of pectin that they make wonderful jellies – I tried apple and mint jelly last week and that worked well too.

Ingredients

  • 1200g apples, roughly chopped, including cores and peel, which are rich in pectin
  • 1 litre water
  • A bunch of rosemary sprigs
  • White sugar, 800g per litre of juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • a handful of rosemary sprigs

The first stage was to make the rosemary and apple juice. I added the apples, bunch of rosemary and water to a large pan, brought to the boil, then simmered for about 30minutes, by which time the apples had all broken down to a soft pulp. I then strained the mixture through a jelly bag over a bowl overnight, adding a weighted plate to press out as much juice as possible from the apple/herb pulp. You could use a muslin-lined colander or sieve.

Before I began making the jelly I put a couple of plates in the freezer and sterilised jars in the dishwasher. I then measured the juice into a heavy based pan and added sugar (I wanted to reduce the sugar slightly from what I used in the mint jelly) I used 80g sugar per 100 mls liquid. I added the lemon juice, and heated gently, stirring until the sugar had dissolved then brought to a boil, allowing it to continue boiling, testing until setting point was reached (when a drop is rapidly cooled on a plate out the freezer and pushed with a finger, wrinkles start to form) – I did this every five minutes and it only took about 15-20 minutes. I turned off the heat and skimmed all the scum off the surface. Placing a small sprig of rosemary in each jar, I waited until the mixture had cooled a little before filling the jars. I found the easiest way to do this was to ladle the liquid into a glass jug (not plastic – this stuff is very hot) and pour it into the jars. Then I sealed the jars firmly.

If you keep an eye on the jars as the liquid sets and invert them briefly when they are almost there you can suspend the rosemary sprig in the middle – otherwise it floats. When I did this I added chopped fresh rosemary at the end too, but the leaves are quite hard so next time I’ll leave these out .

The jelly is beautifully clear, even though the juice extracted at the first stage is quite cloudy. As you boil it up with the sugar it clarifies and the impurities that cause the cloudiness form a scum on the surface which you skim off. The sweet apple has a delicate hint of rosemary – it would be good served with cold meat or as a glaze on lamb.

I also made apple and chilli jelly, following the same recipe, omitting rosemary and adding 70g whole red fresh chillis, each split in two, to the apples in the initial boiling stage to flavour the juice , then in the second stage, as setting point is reached stirring in about the same amount of chillis, this time with seeds removed and finely chopped, and 8 dried birdseye chillis, also finely chopped. Again, you allow the liquid to cool, stirring again before filling the jars and agitating them as they set to ensure the red chilli fragments are evenly distributed. This is deliciously hot and sweet and would be great with all meats or cheese – or even seafood.

You could say I’m on a bit of a jelly roll!

Making The Most Of Nature’s Harvest: Spiced Apple Chutney

I’m working my way through the huge bag of apples from my mothers overladen tree. The next project was this spiced apple chutney. I used this recipe from the BBC Food website. I realised that I had no sultanas or raisins so just left them out.

We have this apple prep tool that is supposed to peel, core and slice the apples. It’s fiddly and the peeling blade is lethally sharp: it gave K a nasty cut a while back, but he nobly set to work preparing the apples.

Ingredients

  • 225g/8oz onions, chopped
  • 900g/2lb apples, cored and chopped
  • 110g/4oz sultanas, raisins or chopped dates
  • 15g/½oz ground coriander
  • 15g/½oz paprika
  • 15g/½oz mixed spice
  • 15g/½oz salt
  • 340g/12oz granulated sugar
  • 425ml/¾ pints malt vinegar

I doubled the quantities (there are a lot of apples to use) and simply simmered all the ingredients together for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally.

By this time the apples had all broken down and the onions were very soft, but there was still a lot of liquid to reduce down. The recipe specified a thicker mixture at this stage but I figured there was enough pectin from the apples to help the chutney set a little bit, so went ahead and poured it into sterilised jars. I ended up with far less than the amount the recipe said: I’d made the equivalent of about 6 jars instead of 8-12. It tastes ok. not over-spicy and the flavour will improve. It really needs a couple of months for the flavour to develop.

This recipe is a good one with cheese. I use a lot of chutney – especially with cheese in a sandwich, so this should be perfect.

What’s your favourite chutney recipe?