Vanessa Ebdon, from Marshford Organic Foods in Northam, shares her seasonal recipe for a spiced blackberry and apple jelly.
The weather this August has been particularly unseasonal and has taken its toll on various crops.
The early apples looked good - until an unexpected gale blew them off the tree, and many of the blackberries and other soft fruits have been ruined by the rain.
Happily, this recipe is a really good way to use imperfect fruit as it is made from the juice and the finished jelly does not include the whole fruit.
I have added a few spice notes, just to give a hint of savoury flavour - this is a great relish to serve with cheese or a cold platter. Its also great to add a spoonful to a stew or casserole at the end of the cooking time, or to use as a glaze - the jelly just melts and leaves a lovely shine.
These quantities make about 3 x 350g jars, but its easy to double up if you want to make more. Its always nice to have home made preserves to give away at Christmas, or any other time come to that!
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
5cm stick of cinnamon
25g ginger root
½ red chilli
natural cane sugar
1. Wash the blackberries, drain and remove any mouldy bits.
2. Remove the stalks from the apples.Chop roughly leaving the skin and cores. Put them in a saucepan with the water. Chop the ginger and the chilli and add them to the pan with the fennel seeds and the cinnamon stick. Cover the pan and put on a low heat. Simmer for five minutes, then add the blackberries. Lightly mash the contents of the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes and then turn off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
3. Put the straining bag in boiling water to sterilize it for five minutes and then stretch it over a bowl that is big enough to contain all the juice. Pour the contents of the saucepan into it and gather up the corners, tying them together and suspend the bag over the bowl. If your bag has loops it is easy to hook it up on a cupbord over your worktop. Leave to drain. Resist the urge to squeeze it as it will ruin the clarity of the finished jelly.
4. When the bag has stopped dripping, measure the amount of liquid you have.It should be between 750ml and 1 litre. Calculate the amount of sugar required on a 4:3 ratio liquid to sugar, for example, 800mls fruit juice needs 600g of sugar.
5. Rinse jars and place on a baking tray with a tea towel underneath. Fill with cold water, cover with tea-towel and place in an oven at 130ºC for 15 minutes.
6. Return the juice to the washed saucepan and add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Boil rapidly, skimming the scum off as it forms, until the liquid has reduced. To test for setting, place a teaspoon of the liquid on a small plate and leave for a few minutes to cool. It should be firm and jelly like.
7. When setting point has been reached, pour into the glass jars and seal.