Autumn always brings with it a glut of produce, all those lovely fruit and vegetables that you have carefully tended throughout the year all seem to ripen at once. If, like me, your best intentions turn to guilt, as windfall apples and rotting courgettes taunt you from their fallen position. All those recipes you cut out and kept, get dog eared (in our case dog eaten) and forgotten about until next Autumn. Well not this year. I am in love with ‘Hedgerow Harvest’ a book I bought which for the occasional but interested forager has some really unusual recipes in it. I have tried so far; Elderberry Cordial – full of Vit.C and a home-made alternative to Ribena, Elderberry Vinegar, this one really is a winner, I have tasted it before and it really is like a version of Balsamic. I’ve also made crab apple and mint jelly (there is a crab apple jelly featured in the book) which is fantastic with lamb and pork. As I have decided to only make things I like eating (no more chutney then!) it definitely fits the bill. Here is the recipe below.
Before you start: If you don’t have crab apples you can replace with cooking apples. You can use ordinary or dried mint if you don’t have any wild mint. It is really worth investing in a sugar or jam thermometer, after many burnt pans or ‘soft set’ jam I found these make all the difference. If you don’t have a proper muslin jelly bag you can substitute with anything that won’t let the chunks through like some cotton, or coffee filters.
Special Equipment: Large pan, jelly bag (or alternative), jam thermometer (optional)
4 kg crab apples/cooking apples
1 kg sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1 handful of chopped mint
Wash the apples, and cut out any bruised bits, chop into large chunks but don’t bother de-seeding. Put in a saucepan, fill with water to cover the apples and bring to the boil. Simmer for 25 minutes until the fruit is soft. Pour the pulp into a jelly bag or several layers of muslin and let drip overnight into a pan beneath. Don’t squeeze the bag, it will cloud the jelly.
When the juice has stopped dripping, measure the juice, and combine with sugar at the ratio of 10 parts juice to 7 parts sugar. Add the lemon, then bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar. Keep at a rolling boil for 35–40 minutes, skimming off the froth regularly if possible. To get the jelly to set accurately it needs to reach 120C which I find the easiest method but you can do it without a thermometer by chilling a dessert spoon in the fridge then when the jelly is set, it will solidify on the back of the spoon. Do not leave the jelly at this stage – it will burn easily!! When it had reached the correct temp/setting stage pour into warm, sterilised preserving jars and tightly seal while still slightly warm. Label and store in a cool dark place. This goes really well with pork or lamb dishes.