To keep spiralling Christmas costs down I decided to make home made gifts for the boys’ teachers this year. A couple of prettily packaged jars of preserves are usually warmly received – especially if they go well with the cheese and cold meats that we scoff our way through over the holidays.
I made a batch of Chilli Jam, using some lovely home grown red chillies kindly sent through the post from my dad, and also some Spiced Apple and Quince Jelly. I chose these fruits because my mum gave me a bag of them at the weekend from her partner’s garden. I’ve never used quinces before and was quite surprised at how big they are – kind of like giant jurassic looking pears.
The scent from the fruit was gorgeous, especially teamed up with tangy cooking apples, lemons and that essential festive trio of cinnamon, cloves and ginger – if you want to make your house smell of Christmas then this is the air freshener for you…
I’ve taken a deep breath and made my first ever cooking video for YouTube to demonstrate how to make this beautiful amber coloured jelly. Making preserves can seem really daunting to the unitiated, so I wanted to show it step by step to try and demystify it a bit.
Watch it and see what you think… apologies for the bright sunshine and occasional fogging up of the camera lens - but hopefully it gives you an insight into what’s involved!
What soon became obvious when I was making the jelly, was that I should have made it in smaller batches, rather than the huge amount I boiled up. It took AGES to reach setting point which is always stressful. So the recipe I’m giving you below is a much more sensible approach (thanks to jam guru Viv Lloyd for reminding me of this)
Spiced Apple and Quince Jelly
900g mixture of cooking apples and quinces
2 lemons, sliced
25g fresh ginger, chopped
1 cinnamon stick
half teaspoon cloves
1. Roughly chop the apples and quinces – no need to peel or core. Put each fruit in a separate pan and fill with water until the fruit is just covered. Bring to the boil and simmer until soft. This will take around 45 mins but keep checking. Quinces are harder than apples so will take longer to cook – hence cooking them separately.
2. Set up a jelly bag on a stand with a large bowl underneath and pour the fruit and water into the bag, letting the juices strain through. Leave this for a couple of hours until it is no longer dripping. Do not squeeze the bag as this will result in a cloudy jelly at the end.
3. Measure the resulting juice to work out how much sugar you need to add to it. For every 575 ml of juice you will need 450g of granulated sugar.
4. Measure out your sugar, put it into an ovenproof dish and warm it through in the oven for around 15 minutes on a low temperature. This will help it dissolve into the juice quicker.
5. Meanwhile prepare your jars and lids by washing in hot soapy water, rinsing in hot water then drying in the oven at 100C. Remove and put on a wooden board ready to be filled.
6. Pour the juice into a large preserving pan, add the warmed sugar and then dissolve over a low heat until all the grains of sugar have disappeared.
7. Bring the heat up so the mixture comes to a vigorous boil and then continue to boil until setting point has been reached. The easiest way to test for a set is to dip a clean spoon into the boiling liquid, twirl it round a few times and then watch how the liquid drops off the spoon. If the droplets run into each other and then hang off the spoon without dripping then setting point has been reached. Take the pan off the heat.
8. Remove any scum from the surface of the liquid with a clean metal spoon, then pour into your clean jars, right to the top and immediately seal tightly with clean lids.
9. Allow to cool and then label with the name of the preserve and the date you made it.
Don’t forget to thoroughly sterilise your jars and equipment when making preserves of any kind. I tried out Persil’s new Warm Spice washing up liquid, who are sponsoring this video post, and it’s got a really lovely festive scent that wafts around the kitchen as well as the cleaning power you’d expect from this brand.
Ruth Clemens has created a range of recipes to celebrate the launch of Persil’s Limited Edition Warm Spice Washing Up Liquid. For more information and recipes visit www.persildishwash.co.uk
Check out Ruth making these fab Candy Cane Meringues…