21 August 2011


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.


The Liquineer said...

Hi Chris, thnks for you comment on my Racing Thrush blog.
I was amused with your upside down stool and tea towel filter. That's just how we used to filter fruits in our house until Ellen got a nifty device that I think she got from Lakeland plastics which is a ring of plastic with four detachable legs that pack away easily and a muslin bag which hangs within the ring, now much stained with various juices. Ellen is the jam and conserves maker and is making Blackberry jelly next- once she has picked enough hedgerow berries. recently it has been plum jam, with victria plums and also a cultivated but "wild" looking plum from a near neighbour of ours.
We are bringing the garden around so that we grow more fruit in coming years - some for the birds and hopefully more for us!

Alan Sloman said...

I have been meaning to comment on your blog for absolutely ages (I think I may have, come to think of it, ages ago) but anyway!

I enjoy coming over to your place for a read - and just to say I *do* have the Dales High Way on my list to do next year! (It was on this year's list, but life got in the way)

Anyway - thanks for blogging

Chris Grogan said...

Thanks guys, nice to hear from you both. We're doing A Dales High Way backwards at the moment www.daleshighway.blogspot.com to see how it walks north - south. Not as good I don't think but we've still a couple at sections to do so I'll reserve judgement till we've finished.

Sloes are nearly ready - note to self "buy more gin".