Bring a little burst of year-round summer magic to your taste buds with Sara Whatley’s fruit preserving recipe
All summer long the children have been watching and waiting for the apples in the garden to be ready. A few casualties have been lost along the way with eager hands unable to wait, but as we turn the calendar to the month of September, it’s finally time for the harvest.
Apples are a very versatile fruit and lend themselves to being enjoyed in many different ways; fresh off the branch, squeezed into juice or cider, or softened into a pie or crumble. Apples mix well with many other flavours too, sweet or savoury or all manner of herbs and spices from the warm and comforting cinnamon and ginger to the spicy and exotic chilli and star anise.
This recipe can be adapted by adding either rosemary or chilli, or any other herbs or spices that take your fancy.
Makes approximately: 4 x 450g (1lb) jars
- 2kg (4lb 8oz) apples, roughly chopped (not peeled or cored)
- About 1.2kg (2lb 10oz) sugar or 900g (2lbs) honey
- 3 to 4 tbsp cider vinegar or lemon juice (to make sweet apples a little tarter)
- 3 sprigs rosemary or 3 tsp chilli flakes
- Put the apples in a large pan and half cover with water. Slowly bring to the boil and cook until the apples are soft, stirring occasionally.
- Line a large bowl or pan with a jelly bag or muslin and pour in the apple mix. Suspend the apples and let the juice drip (if you push it through the jelly will be cloudy) for at least 5 hours, or overnight.
- Measure the juice in a large pan; for every 500ml (almost a pint) use 400g (14oz) sugar or 300g (10oz) honey. Add the vinegar or lemon juice and either the rosemary or chilli and heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved. Then bring to a boil and cook until setting point is reached (about 20 minutes). Remove any scum on the surface.
- In the meantime, sterilise the jars (as for the plums) and put a plate in the freezer.
- To test if the jelly is set, drop half a teaspoon onto the cold plate and leave for about a minute. Push it with a fingertip and if it wrinkles it is done. If not continue boiling and test every few minutes.
- Fish out the large rosemary stalks (if used) but leave the loose leaves as they look pretty. Pour into warm sterilised jars, lid and let cool. Decorate with a label and store for up to 6 months.