Thursday, 14 January 2016

Apple and Cranberry Jelly

A few weeks back I had a great pleasure of enjoying Vivien Lloyd, Jam Mistress herself, hospitality. We were planning a family trip to Bath and Vivien kindly invited us over to stay with her, and as an additional bonus, she gave me a class in jelly making – I couldn't believe my luck! 
Even though it is my post, I must point out that Vivien did all the work, I just took a lot of pictures, distracted her with my chatter and polished off the finished product :) 

I must say, I am not very friendly with jellies – the whole jelly making, straining and ensuring the right consistency and clarity seems a bit too complicated for me. Plus, I am not quite sure what I’d use jelly for if I did make it. 
Well, I am happy to report that after Vivien’s class I am a jelly-convert. I still need to find more uses for it, but I am definitely more confident making jellies, plus I can’t believe how simple and HOW FAST you can make them – fruit to jelly in TWO hours, yes, really! So here it goes … 

Apple and Cranberry Jelly 
makes 5 x 225g jars 
1 kg cooking apples – big green bramley are the best 
1kg cranberries 
1.4 l water 
675 g granulated cane sugar 
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional, only if you want a zingy jelly, can go up to 4 tsp if you are feeling brave)

Wash apples and chop them roughly – peel, core and all – and place them in a large pan with cranberries and water. A good tip from Vivien – stock up on cranberries when they are in season and freeze them, use them straight from the freezer when making jelly. 
Add chilli flakes now, if using. 
Bring to boil and simmer for 25 minutes, until the fruit is looking all mushy and cranberries gave their colour to water – it will be lovely pale pink colour. 
Use a potato masher, mash all the fruit in the pan to get as much juice out of apples and cranberries. Pout the fruit out into a jelly bag over a large bowl - with plenty of room for the juice to drip without touching the bag. Leave to drip for at least an hour or overnight if it fits your timetable better. 
Do not, and I mean DO NOT squeeze the fruit once its in the jelly bag, do not be tempted to get more liquid out. If you do that, your jelly will be cloudy and all the jelly-gods will curse you! :) 
Note; If you don’t have a jelly bag, use chinois strainer (who has those, right? I do), or make a large bag out of jam muslin (very fine muslin) and hang it over a bowl. But to be honest, you can get a jelly bag for about 2-3 quid from Tesco or Lakeland or the like, so you should just get one of those. 

With the juice straining, warm up your sugar in a pre-heated oven (120C non-fan) for at least 15 minutes. This would help your sugar to dissolve faster and will give you a faster set too. Start sterilizing your jars and lids now too – boil them for 10 minutes and oven-dry for 15 minutes. Over-dry at 120C, same as the sugar, you can do it at the same time if your oven is big enough and you have multiple racks. 

Measure out 900 ml of the strained juice and place it back in the pan (clean), heat up the juice and add warmed sugar – stir the sugars in until all of the crystals have dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved you will see a dramatic change in the colour of the jelly – it will go from pale pink to really rich jewel colour, very bright ruby red. 
With heat on high, bring the juice and sugar to a rolling boil, where you see a mass of bubbles all over the surface, and the bubbles will rise quite high up. Boil for about 4 minutes as which point, providing that the jelly-gods have been smiling at you, your jelly should reach a setting point. You can measure the setting point by using a jam thermometer – 104.5C (220F) is jelly setting point, or using Vivien’s “flake test”, which is dead easy and totally fool proof: 
- Using a large metal spoon, scoop up a spoon-full of jelly, shake it side to side for 2 seconds and poor the jelly back in the pan 
- Hold the spoon turned over above the pan and watch jelly drips sliding off the spoon 
- As soon as the drips start “holding” a bit, and become thicker, you have reached a setting point. Apologies, but the best way to describe it is watch the drips become snot-like :) 
Take the jelly off the heat and leave to cool for about 5 minutes. While its cooling carefully remove any scum off the surface to bet the best clarity in your jelly. 

Pour the jelly into sterilized jars all the way to the very top. Use a teaspoon to remove any bubbles or any addition scum that has risen to the surface. Its really worth doing it, as it will give your jelly a crystal clear quality that will make everyone jealous. 
Seal the jars with sterilized lids and leave to cool and set – it wouldn't take long, you can probably eat it after an hour or so. 
As for the ways you can use it – so far I’ve had it with cheese and crackers, in turkey and brie sandwich and jelly and icecream dessert – possibilities are endless!