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Archive for October 8th, 2010

Last year I wrote about our chance find of damsons in a hedgerow on a lane in rural Oxfordshire and subsequently turning them into Spiced Damson Chutney.  We determined to return to the spot this year in the hope of picking them again but were disappointed to find, as we were a week or two later, they had all been either eaten by birds or taken by someone else – or possibly it was just not a very good harvest this year.  Some you win, some you lose!  However, all was not completely lost as, wandering along the hedgerow, I discovered a good crop of sloes and filled several boxes.  Last year I made Sloe Gin in time for Christmas (now is the time, by the way – there may just be some left in your area and they can be frozen).  I picked some Sloes for my parents and then wondered what to do with the remainder as, having some in the freezer already, I didn’t really have space for any more.

This recipe from The Penguin Book of Jams, Pickles & Chutneys by David & Rose Mabey for Sloe & Apple Jelly attracted me.  It is recommended for serving with mutton, rabbit or jugged hare  and although we don’t eat hare, I do like both lamb and rabbit so it seemed worth a go.  I think it would also complement duck, in a Chinese influenced dish with some added oriental spices.  Duck in Plum Sauce is a favourite dish from the Chinese takeaway!  On reflection, I probably should have used a smaller saucepan in the final stage.  My only disappointment was that the jelly thickened quickly and was ready before I had prepared the jars.  By the time the jars were ready it had cooled slightly and started to set.  The texture would not win it any prizes, however the taste is delicious, which is what really matters.  I would make this again, although using a smaller pan for the final stage and hope one day to post a better picture.  The apple is needed as sloes are low in pectin so need it to set successfully.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Sloe & Apple Jelly
(not very much – a small jar)

1lb/454g sloes
1lb/454g apples
water
sugar

1.  Wash the sloes and if picked before the frost, prick them with a needle.  I successfully crushed them in the pan with a potato masher.

2.  Wash the apples and remove any bad bits and then roughly chop them.  They do not need to be peeled or cored.  Add them to the pan with sufficient water to just cover them.

3.  Simmer gently until the fruit is quite soft, stirring occasionally and pressing more with a wooden spoon to encourage juice to come out of the sloes.

4.  Strain the juice through a jelly bag suspended over a measuring jug.  Do not squeeze the bag as this will cause the jelly to be cloudy.  Leave for 24hours or at the very least overnight.

5.  Dispose of the pulp in the bag. 

6.  This stage needs to be done before finishing the jelly which will reduce quickly.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on. 

7.  Measure the strained liquid into a medium sized saucepan adding 1lb/454g sugar for each pint of liquid and bring to the boil. 

8.  Boil fast to set – a little placed on a saucer that has chilled in the freezer will wrinkle slightly when pushed with your finger.  Pot into the prepared jars.  Cool and label.  Serve with mutton or lamb, rabbit or jugged hare, or with duck prepared with Chinese spice flavours.

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