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Sloe and Bramley Apple Jelly Recipe

a tiny pot of sloe jelly

Tiny pot of sloe and apple jelly

This teeny jar of Sloe and Bramley Apple Jelly is the last one left in our larder, vintage September 2005. The jar is 1½ inches high and the ladle is in fact a mustard spoon. We ran up some individual portion pots for a friend of ours, as a joke. This one must have got left behind. She had made the mistake of leaving a large jar of our Sloe and Bramley Apple Jelly on the table, when she gave her husband Newmarket sausages for supper and he polished off most of it in one sitting.

This recipe makes a good raunchy jelly to eat with red meat, game and strong cheese. It’s also great as a sauce base for red meat, such as lamb chops. Danny usually adds a generous dollop to his pheasant casserole and dinky individual game pies, rather than adding a slug of port or sloe gin. As Sloe and Bramley Jelly has a good, strong depth of flavour it is definitely worth making a decent batch for your store cupboard. We use a bit more sugar than the usual 1pt/1lb ratio with this jelly and this seems to work well as we always use cooking apples.


  • 1 1/2 pounds/700g sloes, washed
  • 1 1/2 pounds/700g of bramley cooking apples (ideal) or any other cooking apples. We use windfalls as they won’t keep.
  • Sugar (1 UK pint/750ml/2 1/2 cups of strained juice to 1 1/2 pounds/700g of white granulated sugar, if using cooking apples. 1 pint/750ml/2 1/2 cups of strained juice to 1 pound/454g if using sweet eating apples).


  1. Wash the apples, cut out bad bits and chop roughly. There is no need to peel or core the apples.
    Place sloes and apples in a large deep heavy bottomed saucepan, or preserving pan.
  2. 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 can take anything from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how ripe the fruit is.)
  3. Pour the cooked fruit through sterilised muslin (how do I sterilise muslin? See tips and tricks below). The muslin is often referred to as a “jelly bag”. We use tall buckets to catch the drips from the jelly bags. Rather than hang the bags (conventional method-between two stools) 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.
  4. Leave the jelly bag to drip overnight (or about 12 hours).
  5. Measure the juice the next day.
  6. Pour the juice into a deep heavy bottomed saucepan and add 1½ lb/700g of white granulated sugar for each 1pt/570ml of juice.
    Heat the juice and sugar gently stirring from time to time, so as to make sure that that all the sugar has dissolved before bringing the liquid slowly to the boil.
  7. Continue to boil for about 10 minutes before testing for a set. This is called a rolling boil. (What is testing for a set? See tips and tricks below).
  8. Tossing in a nugget of butter towards the end will reduce the frothing that can occur.
    When jelly has reached setting point pour into warm sterilised jars using a funnel and ladle. (How do I sterilise jars? See tips and tricks below).
  9. Cover immediately with plastic lined screw top lids or waxed disks and cellophane tops secured with a rubber band.
  10. Label when cold and store in a cool, dark place. Away from damp.

Tips and tricks:

  • What is a jelly bag?
    A jelly bag is traditionally a piece of muslin but it can be cheesecloth, an old thin tea cloth or even a pillowcase. The piece needs to be about 18 inches square. When your fruit is cooked and ready to be put in the jelly bag, lay your cloth over a large bowl. Pour the fruit into the centre of the cloth and tie the four corners together so that they can be slung on a stick to drip over the bowl. Traditionally a stool is turned upside down, the stick is rested on the wood between the legs and the jelly bag hangs over the bowl. We experimented and now line a sieve with muslin, place it over a bucket and cover the lot with clean tea cloths (against the flies).
  • How do I sterilise muslin/the jelly bag?
    Iron the clean jelly bag with a hot iron. This method will also sterilise tea cloths.
  • Jam “set” or “setting point”?
    Getting the right set can be tricky. I have tried using a jam thermometer but find it easier to use the following method.
    Before you start to make the jam, put a couple of plates in the fridge so that the warm jam can be drizzled onto a cold plate (when we make jam we often forget to return the plate to the fridge between tests, using two plates means that you have a spare cold plate). Return the plate to the fridge to cool for approx two minutes. It has set when you run your finger through it and leave a crinkly track mark. If after two minutes the cooled jam is too liquid, continue to boil the jam, testing it every few minutes until you have the right set. The jam is far more delicious if it is slightly runny.
  • How do I sterilise the jars?
    We collect jars all year round for our jelly, chutney and jam making sessions. I try to soak off labels and store the clean jars and metal plastic coated screw-top lids in an accessible place. The sterilising method that we use is simple. Just before making the jam, I quickly wash and rinse the jars and place them upside down in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 160c/140c for fan assisted. When the oven has reached the right temperature I turn off the heat. The jars will stay warm for quite a while. I only use plastic lined lids for preserves as the all-metal lids can go rusty. I boil these for five minutes in water to sterilise them. If I use Le Parfait jars, I do the same with the rubber rings.


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  1. Geoffrey May

    If you are going to boil the jelly for some time after filtering through the muslin, what is the point of sterilising the muslin?

  2. Hi

    It’s not jam but jelly – in other words there’s no fruit in it; it’s literally a jelly made from the juice of the fruit combined with sugar.

    However, most jams and jellies can be eaten straight away I would think. Chutneys on the other hand should sometimes be left in a dark cupboard for a couple of months to mature a bit.

  3. How long do you leave the Jam for before you can eat it

  4. Chris Cox

    I make sloe jelly and Rowan jelly. The Rowan jelly always looks cloudy when I put it in jar, but seems to clear as it cools.
    I also have a Japanese quince that gives me one or two fruit a year – I use this to make a fruit spread, there isn’t really enough for a jelly.

  5. MeanyGoat

    Great recipe….We are literally making some now. In our garden we have a lot of blackberries ready at the same time as the sloes so have incorporated some of those as well. We leave the mixture to cool down bait then strain through two cotton hankies! If you twist the ends together you can force the juice out and the resulting jelly is still clear….this avoids waiting overnight for juice to drip through….and since everything is done more quickly there is less chance of contamination from flies, bacteria etc. Some similar recipes and ideas are available on

  6. Thanks for the advice Steve and Fiona. I am a bit of a ‘more is always better’ kind of gal so will use half a glass of brandy and taste to check! Don’t want to put so much in it erodes tooth enamel on contact :-)!!
    Been and bought some brandy this morning so will give it a go later this evening.
    Thanks again for all your much needed advice.

  7. Steve Everitt

    Hi Amanda

    I totally agree with Fiona’s advice on the timing of the brandy and the reason for it. However, the amount is a matter of taste and also it depends what amount you have made; I tend to do a double batch at a time. I would tend to put half a glass full in a double batch and even then it’s not that strong – but enough for you to know that it’s in there!

  8. Thanks Fiona. Think I will try stirring brandy in before I pot it. Any idea on brandy amount or just ‘to taste’.
    This is such a brilliant site for help and advice .Thank you.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Amanda

      I’d use a couple of tablespoons of brandy if it was me!

  9. Hello all, I am making another batch of sloe and bramley apple jelly….last years tasted great but was very thick and rubbery, think I boiled to long! Just wondered if anyone had tried adding a slug of brandy to it to make it more ‘Christmassy’!
    Would you add it with the sugar?
    Any comments gratefully received….thank you!

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Amanda

      If your jelly set too hard you can resolove the problem here’s how Brandy or port sounds like a good idea. Add just before you put it into jars so that it doesn’t evaporate during the cooking

  10. Thanks a bunch for that. I picked mine last weekend, we got well over 2kgs just off 2 small sections of hedge. Luckily we live in farmland and there is just so much around!!

    I made 3 times the quantities here but didn’t put nearly as much sugar (I got 5,5litres of juice, but only put 4kgs of sugar) as I felt it was too sweet and all the jelly tasted of was sugar. I think it turned out well. Although it did take about 3 hours to reach setting point!

    All very yummy though!

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