11 October 2011

Apple and Chilli jelly

Great joy - followed Samantha Weinberg's recipe in The Times (£) of Thursday 29th September.  I used almost double the quantities given, to produce 17 pots (various sizes, 100-120 grams) of a delightful Apple and Chilli Jelly.

It might have had more of a kick if we'd been able to grow red chillis like those of a couple of years ago, or buy any really hot small red chillis in local shops. Sadly, we harvested hardly any this year - the second year running that we've had an almost complete failure. The cooking apples came from next door's tree, by arrangement.

This is the first time that I've made jam, marmalade or jelly other than when 'helping' a parent or grandparent (many years ago), so I had to learn by trying it out.  Experiences:
  1. Muslin cloth (£3 from the local ironmonger) tied to a large bowl with string is much less expensive a straining method than a jelly bag with the kit to hold it; the whole caboodle would have cost a stupid £18 in all. Or if you are able, make a stand for a jelly bag out of metal coat hangers that came back with your dry cleaning. 
  2. The measures seem to be about a pound of sugar to a pint of liquid, if that's the size of your measuring jug
  3. The strained liquid looks pale white, having picked up hardly any colour from the chillis. Don't panic. When you add the sugar and start raising to the boil, it darkens. Once it's reached the boil, you can skim off a layer of scum and then what's left will darken more as it approaches the setting point
  4. You don't have to be too gentle when boiling the liquid to set. Make sure it's boiling rather than simmering, and keep an eye on it - you don't want toffee. 
  5. The test described in the article to find the setting point does work - if you're not too gentle.  Stirring doesn't seem to do any harm and as it's nearing readiness, stirring will cause the liquid to bubble up.  That could be your signal to start testing.

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