It's Jam Central in our house at the moment. After a flurry of activity in early July, when it was a daily race between me and the pigeons to see who could get to the blackcurrants first, the allotment has been a fruit-free zone.
Sudenly everything's ready at once - the autumn raspberries, (don't they know it's still August?) plums and two sorts of apples are all begging for attention.
Rasps and plums are easily dealt with - jam, chutney and my all-time favourite - raspberry gin. Just stuff equal quantities of ripe raspberries and white sugar into an empty bottle and top up with gin. I like 200 grams each of fruit and sugar to a litre of gin but you can add more sugar if you prefer it sweeter. Turn every few days until the sugar has disolved then put away in the dark till Christmas. Strain out the bleached raspberries and top up the raspberry liquer with sparkling wine - it's better than any Bucks Fizz or Kir Royale I've ever tasted.
|Ok - it's not Christmas but what the heck....|
The apples are more of a problem. I inherited two apple trees when I took on my allotment. One is a Cox and the small, sweet, eaters keep well both on the tree and stored in the shed. The other is a nameless nightmare - huge, bright red apples that turn from tongue-puckering to cottonwool in your mouth in the space of 24 hours. Horrible. The only solution is to cook them and after filling the freezer with enough stewed apple to keep us in crumble till Easter I turned to the Cottage Smallholder for inspiration. Fiona Neville's recipes always work and her chuck it in and taste it methods are close to my own heart.
I stewed 2 kilos of apples, washed and chopped, with the bad bits cut out but the skin and pips left in, with about half a litre of water and 2 chopped chillis.
|Makeshift jelly bag|
When the apples turned to mush I strained them overnight and the following day boiled up the resulting juice with sugar.
|The juice was cloudy but it cleared ok|
Most recipes call for equal measures of sugar to juice but these apples are really sweet and I was after a savoury jelly so I added about half sugar to juice and boiled it for a good 20 minutes. It was a bit trial and error but it worked and I'm left with half a dozen pots of spicey, appley jelly to eat with cheese or cold meat or stir into curry and chilli con carne.
Horrible apple tree I think you've just redeemed yourself.