Spiced Apple Jelly

I prefer this jelly when it is made with rather less sugar than I’ve suggested in the recipe below – 350 g/12 oz to 600 ml/1 pint apple juice – but reducing the sugar also reduces its longevity. So if you wish to keep the jelly for longer than a couple of months, or intend to give it to friends as presents, it is best to stick with the full quantity.

Use it as an accompaniment to roast meats such as rabbit, lamb or kid.

By cutting out the vinegar and spices, and adding sloes, angelica or rose petals you can make delicious scented jams to spread on hot toast, or eat with cream cheese.

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Ingredients

  • 2 kg/ lb cooking or crab apples
  • 2 lemons, impeded, sliced and pipped
  • 25 g/1 oz fresh root ginger, unpeeled
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • 200 ml/7 fl oz white wine vinegar
  • granulated sugar

Method

Chop the apples roughly, without peeling or coring them, and place in a heavy-based pan with the lemons. Slice the ginger. Add to the pan with the cinnamon, cloves, vinegar and 1.75 litres/3 pints cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the apple is very soft. Mash well.

Line a large colander with a double layer of muslin and set over a large bowl. Ladle the apple mixture into the colander and leave to drain for 1 hour. Gather up the edges of the muslin and knot, then hang up to drain over the bowl for 8 hours or overnight.

Measure the liquid in the bowl and weigh out 450 g/1 lb sugar for every 600 ml/1 pint. Put the liquid and sugar in a large, heavy-based pan, stir over a medium heat to dissolve the sugar, then bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard until it reaches setting point – test after 5 minutes by spooning a few drops on to a cold saucer. Turn the heat off. Cool the saucer rapidly for a few seconds in the freezer then nudge the drops with your finger. If a skin has formed and wrinkles up, then the jelly is ready. If it does not, switch the heat on and boil for a further 5 minutes, before testing again.

Remove the jelly from the heat and skim off any scum. Ladle into clean, warm jars, cover and seal while hot. Store in a cool, dark place for a month before using.

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