Hustle In Your Hedgerow
Make a deliciously tart and fruity Hedgerow Jelly
By Mel Sellings
Folklore has it that you must pick blackberries “before the devil spits in them” at Michaelmas, around the 29th of September. This is a diabolical explanation for the fact that blackberries eventually turn bitter; actually, it’s the tannins that do the dirty work. This year, I think the devil will be kept at bay a little longer so why not take advantage and make a deliciously fruity and tart Hedgerow Jelly using whatever mixture of hedgerow fruits you can lay your hands on.
1.5kg / 3lb 5oz Sloes, Haws, Blackberries, Rosehips, Elderberries
1.5 litres Water (enough to cover)
1.5kg / 3lb 5oz Apples – eating, cooking or crab
2 kg / 4lb 7oz Granulated Sugar
2 Lemons, Juice only = approx 6 tbsp Lemon Juice
If your jam pan is too full, simply halve the amounts.
Large jam pan
Jelly bag and stand
Bowl to catch the juice
8 medium jars and lids
Calculating Sugar Formula: 600ml juice to 450g sugar plus 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Rinse and pick-over all your berries. If already mixed, soak the lot in bowls of water for 10 mins and drain off any funny stuff floating on the surface. If the blackberries have been picked separately, soak them and simply rinse the other fruit.
- Drain and weigh the fruit, place in the jam pan.
- Prep your apples. If peeled, place in a bowl of water with lemon juice. Otherwise, rinse well and ‘top and tail’, removing the stalk but keeping the core and pips for added pectin.
- Dice the apples, weigh (approximately the same weight of apples to berries). Place in the jam pan with the berries and add sufficient water to cover. Bring to a gentle boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer until the fruit becomes pulpy – about 45 mins. Help it along by giving it a good mash.
- Scald your jelly bag by placing it in a small bowl and pouring boiling water over it, leaving it in the water to cool. Then hang your jelly bag from the stand in the place you want it to drip through, putting a fresh bowl beneath it to catch all that lovely juice.
- Ladle the fruity pulp into the jelly bag, watching for cheeky drips from the ladle.
- Leave the jelly bag to drip through, ideally overnight or at least until the dripping has stopped.
- Pour or ladle the juice from the bowl into a measuring jug, take a note of the amount of juice and, using the Calculating Sugar Formula (600ml juice to 450g sugar plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice) work out how much sugar to add.
- Prepare your jars by placing in a cold oven then heating to 110°C /225ºF / Gas Mark ¼ for 30 mins, and the lids, ladle and funnel (by boiling in water for 20 seconds). Place 3 saucers into the fridge ready to test for set.
- Warm the juice in the jam pan. When just simmering, add the sugar and stir continuously until dissolved.
- Add lemon juice, 2 tbsp for every 600ml juice – or just 1tbsp if using cooking or crab apples.
- Increase the heat and wait until the jelly looks ready for testing.
- When the jelly is boiling continuously (not rising up the pan) and making popping noises, take the pan off the heat and test for the set in the following ways:
Test 1. Use your wooden spoon to scoop some jelly up and out of the jam pan, hold it out of the rising heat for about 20 seconds then turn it on its side above the jam pan. If the jelly runs off like water, return the pan to the heat. If it gloops and runs together, dripping in jellified lumps, then proceed to The Saucer Test…
Test 2. Place a tablespoon of jelly on a prepared cold saucer and leave it for 1 minute. Run your finger through it. If the jelly holds together, wrinkles and stays separate, then it’s set.
7. When happy with the set, take the pan off the heat and wait a minute for the jelly to settle, then skim the scum for all you’re worth – it’s easier when the jelly is slightly set. If, however, the jelly starts to set hard in the pan, warm gently, then pot.
Taste Test: Tart and sweet is just how a jelly should be. The sloes and lemon juice do their work with the others as the sweetening back-up, creating the balance. Depending on the jelly’s berry composition, it can be great with either sweet or savoury dishes, according to taste.
You can buy my jam at The Purbeck Deli in Swanage, The Salt Pig in Wareham, or Clealls of Corfe – and sample my jam at the Worth Matravers Tea & Supper Room.
For more seasonal recipes and amusing preserver’s anecdotes, have a look at my book, Jam Making Month by Month: The Jammy Bodger’s Guide to Making Jam. Packed with hints and tips, you won’t be struggling to set your jam or be left with chewy marmalade and runny chutney. Available for £15.99 wherever my jam is stocked and via the publishers at www.goodlifepress.co.uk. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org