Today is jam day. Tomorrow will be chutney day.
It happens once a year in this house. Having gathered some fruits from the hedgerows over the last couple of weeks and frozen things I wasn’t ready to use, it’s now time to ruin my kitchen. Again.
Today’s plan is:
- Gins: elderberry (my favourite), sloe and rosehip
- Jellies (not jam): hedgerow aka a bit of everything, apple and bramble (himself’s favourite), and apple and chilli
- Courgette chutney tomorrow
I’m not sure how much progress I’ll make but at least I remembered to defrost things overnight this year.
Defrosted elderberries seemed better for gin (I need more for hedgerow jelly).
900ml Tesco’s cheapest gin
Then sloe. Again defrosted because last year’s batch with fresh wasn’t very good. I use more sugar for this because sloes are more bitter to start.
Lastly rose hip. This is a new one inspired by a friend’s comment that she loves rose flavour. If it goes well I’ll give her some.
100g rose hips
200ml gin (Aldi, had to go for reinforcements)
And done. So easy!
This is the elderberry variety, too much to fit in one jar. I use second hand kilner type jars from car boots.
For how it turned out, see Gin bottling time.
Jam (well jelly)
I’m being rather ambitious and doing three jams today.
Bramble and Apple
This is himself’s favourite fruity spread thing. His colleague donated windfall cooking apples and I picked blackberries a couple of weeks ago and froze them, then found some more yesterday with small boy.
Jellies are a pain because you spend longer straining them than cooking and end up painfully throwing away lots of fruit.
My hedgerow jelly varies every year. It has some core staples: blackberries elderberries and rose hips. Then I add whatever else I can find (be bothered to pick). Previous batches have contained haws, sloes, damsons, blueberries, crab apples, wild strawberries and usually a lemon to help with the pectin.
This year I’ve add apples and the damsons from last years’ damson gin.
Today I got impatient with only having one straining stand and two bags. So grabbed a muslin to ruin in the interests of time.
Apple and Chilli
I like this one because it’s a bit unusual and tends to have a lovely warm colour. Getting the amount of chilli right is tricky though, I boil the apples with chilli flakes and then taste once the sugar’s dissolved, adding more if it needs a bit of a kick still.
It was all going great, slow but great. Then I tested the setting point of the bramble and apple. It looked fine but 2hrs later it’s not set. I’ll have to empty it back into a pan and reboil tomorrow.
Woo hoo, my mum’s sage advice “leave it overnight and see” totally paid off. It’s set!
Another “make it up as I go along” one here. I use a recipe to get the general ratios of veg to vinegar and sugar and then play by ear. This year I’ve got:
360g red and green tomatoes from the garden
100g bought tomatoes
510g home grown yellow courgettes
310g green bought courgette
1 red and 1 green pepper I found in the fridge and need eating
200g chopped onion
3 huge garlic cloves
300ml red wine vinegar
300ml white wine vinegar
2 big squirts tomato puree
2 tsp grainy mustard
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp cinnamon
450g dark brown sugar
Apparently I should put the spices in a little bag, but I haven’t go one so they just go into the mix.
Chop everything small, throw in an enormous pan and simmer til mushy.
Then ask himself to taste, he complained too much vinegar so I added another 50g sugar.
Keep simmering until it’s nice and thick, almost how you’d get it out of the jar.
Then put in jars, seal with cling film while hot so it forms as vacuum as it cools.
Just because it makes me feel good, I love to stand back and see everything I made.
I reckon 3.5kg jellies and 2-2.5kg chutney. Plus 1.7L gin. That’ll do nicely.