The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Day off making jelly and a few secret jelly and jam making tips to create your own great recipes

 

Photo: Maslin pan and thermometer

Photo: Maslin pan and thermometer

“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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14 Comments

  1. Dan's mummy

    Dear all, has anyone made marmalade or citrus jellies using a steam juicer? I have looked at various sites, cannot find any conclusive info! The only jelly I have made so far was quince ( made with frozen fruit ), it is fantastic!

    • Danny

      Hello, Dan’s Mummy.

      I have posed your question on our forum here.
      Hope you get a response.

      Thanks for asking.
      Danny

  2. Found this site last year when looking for chilli jelly recipe and what a brilliant site it is. This year have made loads of mild and very hot chilli jelly,ginger preserve (using stem ginger),mint jelly, bramble jelly, plum chutney, tomato and chilli chutney and all with the help of comments and advice from people on here. I am today using quinces from an ornamental japonica and have it straining through a jelly bag now – made the mistake of dipping a finger in to taste – absolutely toe curling! – but will boil it up with sugar tomorrow and reserve my comments til then.
    Am off tomorrow to pick more blackberries if they’re still ok – picked 4 lbs a few weeks ago.

    Picked over 3lbs of sloes today and am making sloe vodka – I make the very sweet variety – also have blackberry, strawberry and plum vodka on the go – going to be a very merry Christmas!

    In answer to Reyv re a sugarless jam don’t know how you would make it without sugar unless using a commercial pectin which would surely make it taste like any shop bought jam? Be interesting to see if anyone else comes up with an idea.

    What a year it’s been round here for apples and all the bountiful freebies from the hedgerows. Be glad of the rest when it’s all finished!

  3. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ¦. I AM DESPERATE FOR A RECIPE FOR SUGARLESS JAM. MY APPLES ARE FALLING NOW AND I NEED TO PRESERVE AS QUICKLY AS POSS.

    I WILL MIX WITH OTHER FRUITS AND EVEN DO CHUTNEY™S. BUT I DON™T WANT TO ADD SUGAR IF IT CAN BE HELPED.

    SO I WILL THANKFULLY APPRECIATE HOW TO MAKE IT WITHOUT SUGAR. I NOTICE THAT SOME COMERCIAL JAMS USE CONCENTRATED APPLE JUICE. IS THIS THE KEY?????

  4. jennyellow

    Tried exactly as you suggested – sweet success! thanks 🙂 lovely texture now and the taste hasnt been affected, phew

  5. jennyellow

    Wondered if an experienced hand could help. Made jelly using plums hawberries and apples – no pectin/lemon juice as ive had success with this combination in the past. The jelly coated the spoon and the pan was covered in set jelly film afterwards, but my filled jars are still runny (like syrup) 24 hours on. I think my problem was using too much water – shame it tastes devine! Will it firm up in time (how much though?) can you add anything to the jars or do I have to reboil and how much of what should I add??
    Please help!

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Jennyellow

      I don’t think that your jelly will become firm enough in time as it sounds very runny. The boiling process removes the water and you can tip the unset jelly back and reboil. However if you boil for too long the taste can be affected. So I would add the strained juice of a lemon and taste – add a bit more sugar to taste and then bring all to a rolling boil. I also put a plate in the freezer for testing for set – makes the process quicker and easier.

  6. Please can you tell me where you got the steam juicer from in the UK? Just made quince jelly and any gadget to speed up the process would be a bonus, as the family gets through jars of preserves.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Abi

      You can get them on Amazon but they are cheaper from Westfalia – I have an article with links here http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/fruit-steamers-are-a-brilliant-addition-to-any-busy-kitchen-3529

  7. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand

    You’re so right about the companionable part! Making jelly by yourself is a bit of a chore, but making it with a friend is a cozy afternoon’s project.

    Is a steam juicer a separte piece of equipment? I’ve never heard of it — but that could be either because we have a different name here in the US or just that I don’t get out much.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hello TCL

      Can’t wait to try some new jellies in TCL’s kitchen. Got loads of ideas.

      Hi Tamar

      Totally agree. Danny is always good as a taster but I’m running up and down stairs with a teaspoon and I’d prefer to work with a friend developing recipes. Much more fun and probably better results.

      Steam juicers are in America here’s a link to your Amazon http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_13?url=search-alias%3Dgarden&field-keywords=steam+juicers&sprefix=steam+juicers

      They are not just for jelly. you can steam fish and extract fish stock. Steam a chicken and do the same. Masses of uses for someone as inventive and brave as you are.

  8. Diane Epps

    Any chance of the recipe for home made pectin or is it just a case of boil and bottle?

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Diane

      There’s a good recipe here http://www.jamworld.co.uk/pec.html#p1. Freeze in cubes for use when needed.

  9. Thank you Fiona, what a wonderful day.

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