Hubby is the god of preserving – I’m rubbish. This may be due to my lack of perseverance. If it doesn’t work first time I resign myself to the fact I can’t do it and pass the reins over to Hubby.
In terms of preserve making, here in the UK, jam uses the whole fruit whereas jelly is clear and bright and is made using the juice extracted from the fruit. Hubby decided rub in how good he is at this jam making malarkey by making both a successful jam and jelly. One using quinces and the other using blush gooseberries.
Quinces look a bit like ugly, overgrown yellow pears and in the UK can be very hard to get hold of unless you have a friend with a quince tree. A few veg box schemes were also selling them too. Hubby has a friend who offered us some of his quinces. Only after he had made a cracking batch of quince jelly did he announce that his friend has chopped down the said quince tree. The romantic ideas of making refined quince jelly for all the impressed relatives for Christmas was dashed.
Now for the science bit – when quince is boiled it turns red (leading me to be boring and wonder if it was a pH indicator *yawn*). Be warned this stains the cloth you use to strain the juice with. Strangely this stain is intensified with heat and stain remover. The resulting jelly has a distinctive floral taste, unlike anything I was expecting and goes very well with cheese.
The blush gooseberries had been hibernating in our freezer ever since we picked them at a PYO back in June. They are slightly sweeter than green gooseberries…still won’t make me like them. However Hubby did manage to transform them, along with some elderflower cordial, into a beautiful jam.
Both recipes are inspired by Preserves – River Cottage Handbook.
makes 5-6 225g jars
100ml cider vinegar
1) Roughly chop the quinces, discarding any bad parts. Don’t peel or core them. Put in a deep saucepan, just about cover with water then bring to the boil. Simmer gently, covered for 45 min. Tip the contents of the pan into a jelly bag or piece of muslin (in our case a clean tea towel!) suspended over the bowl and leave to drip for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
2) Measure the strained juice. For every 600ml, weigh out 450g sugar. Return the juice to the cleaned out pan with the vinegar. Heat to boiling point then add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Increase the heat and boil rapidly for 10-12 min or until setting point is reached. Remove from heat and skim off any scum.
3) Pour into sterilised jars.
Gooseberry & Elderflower jam
makes 5-6 340g jars
1 kg gooseberries
2 tbsp elderflower cordial
1kg granulated sugar
1) Top and tail gooseberries and place in pan with 500ml of water and the cordial. Cook gently until the berries are soft, but hold their shape.
2) Add the sugar. Stir carefully so not to break down the berries until the sugar has dissolved then bring to a full rolling boil for 9-10 until jam reaches setting point. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 min then pot and seal.