2009 is a great year for blackberries. We have loads in our garden and I’m bottling them and processing them for winter. I’ve also become very interested in cordials. Danny has started using my Lemon and Elderflower cordial instead of white wine in cooking. I reckoned that Blackberry and Apple cordial and a Wild Plum cordial would appeal to him.
Deep into Oded Scwartz’s Preserving I read his words on making cordial, “Boil for just 4-5 minutes as you don’t want to turn it into jelly.” Basically making cordial is very easy - it’s just like making jelly but is boiled for less time.
How about making some cordial and some jelly and some fruit cheese/butter with the fruit pulp. This would get the maximum return from the fruit with very little waste. So I did that and this recipe returned one 500 ml bottle of cordial, seven 50 cl jars of Bramble Jelly and four 75 cl jars of Blackberry and Apple cheese.
Apple and Blackberry Cordial recipe
- 1 kilo of eating apples (windfalls would do – any bad bits removed)
- 500g of blackberries
- The juice of one lemon
- White granulated sugar (the amount depends on the volume of juice extracted from the simmered, drained fruit. 500ml of juice to 400gms of sugar.
- Wash the apples, cut out bruised bits and chop roughly. There is no need to peel and core the apples.
- Pick over the blackberries, reject any that are tatty and remove any stalks. Soak them in a bowl of water with a sprinkle of salt – this draws out any wildlife. Rinse well.
- Place fruit in a large deep heavy bottomed saucepan, or preserving pan. Add water to cover ½ of the fruit.
- Bring slowly to the boil and simmer very gently until all the fruit is soft and squishy. This takes about 15 minutes, depending on how ripe the fruit is.
- Add the lemon juice
- Pour the cooked fruit into a jelly bag and leave to drip into a bowl overnight. (What is a jelly bag? See tips and tricks below). This is traditionally a piece of sterilised muslin. (How do I sterilise muslin? See tips and tricks below). We use tall buckets to catch the drips from the jelly bags. Rather than hang the bags (conventional method) I find it easier to line a large plastic sieve with the muslin. This clips neatly onto the top of a clean bucket. The sieve is covered with a clean tea cloth to protect against flies.
- The next day, measure the extracted fruit juice and pour it into a deep heavy bottomed saucepan. Add 400g of white granulated sugar for each 500ml of juice. Try to avoid squeezing the jelly bag as this can make the jelly cloudy.
- Heat the juice and sugar gently, stirring from time to time. Make sure that that all the sugar has dissolved before bringing the liquid slowly to the boil. Continue to boil hard for just 5 minutes. Pour into warm sterilised bottles using a funnel and ladle and secure the caps immediately. (How do I sterilise bottles? See tips and tricks below).
- Dilute with iced water to serve.
Tips and tricks:
- Use small bottles (we use recycled vinegar bottles) as it only keeps for a week or so once opened. If you don’t want to use bottles the syrup can be frozen in cubes.
How do I sterilise a jelly bag or muslin square?
Both can be scalded with boiling water. If you are using a clean muslin bag or square you can iron them with a hot iron. This also works with tea cloths.
How do I sterilise bottles?
The sterilising method that we used is simple. Just before making the syrup, I quickly wash and rinse the bottles and place them upside down in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 160c (140c fan-assisted). When the oven has reached the right temperature I turn off the heat. The bottles will stay warm for quite a while. Sterilise the lids by boiling these for a few minutes in water.
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