The fruit season has arrived early this year probably due to our mixed up weather of a hot spring and cold wet start to the summer. We have a couple of old gnarled apple trees in the garden which every year produce the most gorgeous tasting apples. The only problem is that they are tiny apples (compare it to the size of the daisy nearby!). An apple measuring an inch wide is to be considered ‘a whopper.’
Due to their tiny size this makes the apples quite tricky and time consuming to do anything with, as once peeled and cored there is not much left. After a bountiful fruit gathering session at the weekend I decided to combine the apples with some equally tiny plums I’d picked growing wild in the hedgerows, and turn them into plum and apple jelly.
Making a jelly is the perfect way to use tiny fiddlesome fruit as you boil the fruit, including all its peel, skin, pips and seeds, before straining off the pulp and collecting the sweet rosy coloured fruit juices from which you make the jelly out of. The skin gives colour and flavour while the pips add natural pectin which helps the jelly set meaning no peeling or coring required!
The aroma wafting from the fruit as it bubbled away was intoxicating, sweet, fruity and the essence of summer. Once strained the resulting juices were a fabulous blushed rosy pink colour which had seeped from the fruits peel and skin.
The finished jelly was clear and vibrantly glossy with almost mirror-like qualities, just beautiful, and packed full of apple and plum flavour. I love it on toast or used in sweet dishes but my family enjoy it with meat dishes too, in place of the more traditional red currant jelly. Little jars of bottled summer orchard.
Plum & Apple Jelly
3 pints water
450g granulated sugar per pint of juice you create
Wash and roughly chop the plums and apples and place them into a very large saucepan. Don’t peel or core them, you want the skin, pips, stones and all as these add a gorgeous colour and natural pectin to the jelly which is needed to help it set..
Add the water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Leave to bubble for 30 minutes, giving it the odd stir or prod until the fruit is cooked and everything has gone soft and mushy. Remove from the heat.
Set a large bowl underneath a jelly bag (or large sieve lined with muslin) and carefully pour the mushy fruit into the bag, letting the clear pink juice run through. Do not squeeze or press on the pulpy fruit let behind too much, as this can turn the clear juice cloudy.
Rinse off your large saucepan. Place 8-10 jam jars and their lids into a cold oven and heat to 160 for at least 10 minutes to sterilise them. Leave them in the oven until required.
Measure how many pints of juice you have and pour it back into the cleaned pan. Add 450g of granulated sugar per 1 pint of juice you have collected. (Mine was 3pints so used 1.350kg sugar).
Heat the sugar and juice together, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil and allow to bubble for 35-45 minutes until it has reached its setting point. Test for setting by placing a small spoonful of the jam onto a saucer and placing in the fridge for 3 minutes. Once cool, run your finger through the jam and if it ripples and leaves a clear path, then it is ready. If not, then allow to boil for a further 5 minutes before testing again.
Once ready, remove the jelly from the heat and the jars from the oven. Carefully ladle the hot jam into the hot jars and screw on the lids tightly. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the heat and to give you a good grip.
Allow to cool at room temperature before storing in a cool dark place until required. The seal button in the lids will suddenly pop back down as the jam cools, as a sterile vacuum is created within the jar. They will give a loud ‘pop’ when this happens, so don’t be alarmed.
Once open, store in the fridge
Makes 8 – 10 jars
Makes 8 – 10 jars