I’ll start with the Blackberry & Katy Apple Jelly I made 2 days ago and work backwards. It was made with Katy Apple juice which itself had been made from poaching the apple peelings & core and seeds in water. Almost exactly a year ago, see previous post, I had decided to try cooking the peelings rather than discard them but had not tried them out as pectin. Having recently made Katy Apple & Cherry Plum jam I had some juice set aside and was keen to see if it worked,as in a sense, I would have 2 products from one lot of fruit. A kind of artisan 2 for 1 and one of the things which intrigues me about preserve making- being industrious or is it inventive? Or is it being frugal or just simply putting fruit/food to good use. All these thngs, probably.
Very simply, I picked Ikg of hedgerow blackberries then poached them in 700 ml of apple juice until soft. I then put them in a jelly bag overnight and in the morning I put the juice in a preserving pan brought it to a boil then added sugar. After 5 minutes I started testing for a set, once reached, I put the jelly into sterilised jars. it produced a very good set- firm but not solid. On a walk the next day I noticed a rosemary bush in flower and it made me think that the addition of just a few rosemary or lavender flowers would give the jelly an added layer. They wouldn’t be visible however as the jelly is very dark. I’m also tempted to add in some horseradish which grows right next to the blackberry hedge.
It’s almost a year since I last wrote a new post on the blog. In this time new products have already become customer favourites and ideas which didn’t work, I’ve discovered, take as much time and energy as those which do. Obvious I know, but I am getting better at dealing with disappointment, mainly because I’m no longer taking it so personally- it’s work, which hasn’t worked. Not personal failure. Pragmatism helps: that is, the poetry which drove the idea may now have evaporated leaving the reality of having lost both time and money and being left with piles of washing up & jars of jam which are unsaleable BUT I tell myself “if you are going to try new ideas it’s a risk”. Then I remember a group tutorial at University when a lecturer told one of the students “it’s great that you have so many ideas but you will need plenty of energy to carry them out”. That’s precisely what I loved about group tutorials, the nugget which you take away & keep is spoken indirectly but goes so deep.
In January I began thinking about tracing some of the fruit I pick-apples, pears, plums & quince back to their blossom. Another idea: but one which has been carried out fairly seamlessly. It has been mainly a question of asking permission if I can visit orchards which are not normally open to the public at blossom time. Finding out at what time of year each fruit is in blossom was also important and of course being aware that this is very much dependent on the weather and can vary. I love walking so going to look & see how the cherry plum hedge was developing was both enjoyable and provided a necessary break from Marmalade making & washing up. Finding the first delicate blossom emerging is magical, especially on a cold March day, What draws me in is also the many stages at which blossom can be on one plant-from being tightly curled up in a bud to being deplete of petals, equally beautiful just a very different shape.
It’s time to stop now as in 15 minutes time I’ll be on the BBC radio 4 Food programme– a Diana Henry Preserve Special edition-OMG. My day with Diana spent talking about flavour and picking fruit and making Cherry Plum & Katy Apple Jam will be the subject of my next post. It was wonderful.