This is sort of cheating…
Last summer, we went for a walk through Epping Forest near London and picked kilos of amazing brambles with our friend SF. We got them home, made bramble jelly, but it’s been hiding in the cupboard behind the rice ever since. SF has since moved back to New York and taken her jar with her – I’ve been told it is great, so I’m looking forward to today’s grand tasting.
Opened and tasted – amazing!!! Better than anything I’ve ever bought.
HOW TO MAKE IT
• 1.5kg brambles, gently washed (I successfully froze them for a week between picking and cooking)
• 2 large apples or a couple of handfuls of crab apples (washed and diced)
• 550ml water
• Juice of 1 lemon
• White sugar
Put the brambles, apples, water and lemon juice in a heavy-based pan, heating gently. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 25 minutes until the fruit is very soft.
Pour the mixture into a jelly bag or muslin cloth, and leave somewhere quiet for the juice to drip through the net. This should sit for at least 8 hours or overnight. If you want clear jelly, don’t squeeze. If you don’t care about cloudy jelly and want to win every drop of juice from your hard-won fruit, then squeeze as much as you want (*).
Now measure the juice – for every 600ml of juice, add 450g of sugar. Put the juice and sugar into a heavy-based pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat until the setting point(**) is reached – around 10-15 minutes.
Pour the hot jelly into sterile jam jars, seal, label and hide it somewhere to enjoy later.
* We opted for clear jelly, but there was a LOT of pulp left in the jelly bag, so we put it through a sieve, and boiled up the fruit pulp with some sugar and water for an improvised jam. I had a lot of thorns in my hands and was not going to let any fruit go to waste!
** To test for the setting point, put a spoonful of the mixture on a cold saucer. Let it cool, then tilt the saucer – if the jelly wrinkles, the setting point has been reached.
WOULD I MAKE IT AGAIN?
The result was fantastic – rich and fruity, with the right balance between sweetness and sharpness.
I am glad this was as good as it is, but making fruit jelly is a right faff. Basically a LOT more work than jam, but with more mess, more waste and less jars of the good stuff at the end of the day. So no more jelly – this will be the year of just jam.