Saturday, 13 June 2009

Elderflower and Apple Jelly

I couldn't help noticing how the elderflowers are now filling the air with their heady scent and this inspired me to use them in cooking again. Last year I made some delicious fritters, but this time I wanted to make something more long lasting.

Elderflowers have such a gorgeous flavour and here I have used them to make an apple jelly preserve which could work well as either an accompaniment to pork, maybe even cheese or simply spread on some bread.

At first it seems like there's a lot involved in making the jelly, but I can assure you, it is well worth it.
The  cooked fruit and flower pulp has to be placed in a cloth bag overnight to allow the juice to drain through. Not having a jelly bag or brand new piece of muslin to hand, I found an old muslin curtain and used that, obviously after I had washed it very well!
The bag has to be suspended above the bowl so that the weight of its contents pushes through the liquid. My husband kindly rigged up a pole across a couple of stands, I suppose a broom handle over two chairs would work just as well.

1 kg bramley apples
20-30 heads of elderflowers
3 lemons juiced
preserving sugar (75g of sugar for every 100ml of juice)

a large piece of muslin cloth
a long pole and something to rest it across
sterilised jars to store it in (mine filled two Bonne Maman jam jars each containing 370g)

Check your freshly picked elderflowers for any creepy crawlies. Do not wash them, but give them a good shake to dislodge any insects.

Chop the apples, leaving on the skin and put into a  large pan, cores and all, with the flowers.

Add some water so that it just covers the fruit and flowers and bring the ingredients to the boil and cook them until the apples are very soft and mushy.
Now for the 'fun' part:
Take a large bowl and place a colander in it. Next line the colander with the muslin cloth and carefully pour in the apple mush. You now need to gather the corners of the cloth and tie them over a pole (see photo below). Be careful not to squeeze the muslin bag.
Leave your 'contraption' overnight to allow all the juice to drip through.
Next day discard the contents of the bag. Check the quantity of juice and measure out 75g of sugar for every 100ml of liquid.

Put the liquid in to a heavy pan  and add the lemon juice.
Bring the juice to the boil and then add the sugar, letting it dissolve into the liquid.
Bring it up to a rapid boil for at least 15 minutes.

Check the setting point (see How To guide) and when it is ready, pour into sterilsed jars.


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