Day off making jelly and a few secret jelly and jam making tips to create your own great recipesPosted by Fiona Nevile in Jam Jelly and Preserves, Kitchen equipment | 14 comments
“We’re making crab apple chilli jelly. It’s a deep ruby red. I’ll send you the photos later. Now what are you eating tonight. Sardines. Hum. How about sardines on toast. What about vegetables – do you remember them?”
The Chicken Lady was on the phone to Rollo who has just started Uni. Back at base we were on a jelly making marathon.
TCL has access to a large crab apple tree (secret location) and she had gone out early in the morning to pick the fruit. My role was to demonstrate the fruit steamer in action, bring some hot dried chillies and help make the jelly. I use a steam juicer for making jellies and the results are superb. Crystal clear jellies that look like huge jewels. I might not have tiaras but my larder is packed with gems that you can eat. Pretty handy in a recession and if you can forage the fruit the cost is just the sugar and a bit of energy.
With a steam juicer there is no need to have a jelly bag dripping overnight. You can make crab apple from start to finish in just a few hours. Softer fruits can be turned around in an hour or so.
There is something very companionable about making preserves with a good friend. All the rather boring things – like testing for a set - become much more fun if you have someone to chat to. Also if you want to tweak a recipe there are two tasters.
No jelly or jam recipe is set in stone. As long as you have the right proportion of juice to sugar you can add extras (such as chilli flakes, herbs, finely cut ginger, garlic etc.) It’s best to add these incrementally at the stage when you have added the sugar and let it dissolve. As long as you don’t let the jelly boil and just keep it simmering gently you’ll safely have a good ten minutes to let the additions infuse and taste and tweak and retaste. It is the same with jam too.
Make sure that you have the flavour that you want before going on to the rolling boil stage. You are in control after all. If it’s too tart add more sugar, if it’s too sweet add lemon juice. As you get more experienced you can adjust the sugar ratio too, using lemon juice to compensate for less sugar or homemade pectin made from first drop tiny apples early in summer. The latter doesn’t taste artificial like the shop bought stuff. These used to rot on the ground here until I got this tip from one of our American readers.
I prefer a hotter chilli jelly than TCL. So we made a couple of batches. One sinus clearing and a little more tart, one sweet and zingy. We laughed and gossiped and all day. And on my return, I was buzzing with inspiration and new ideas for jellies and jams.
Thank you TCL for a great day out!
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