|Plum and raspberry jelly, bramble jelly, plum chutney and elderberry liqueur|
I promised to post a tutorial for my plum and raspberry jelly, so please find this below. I find jellies much easier to make than jams, in terms of set, although of course there is the additional stage required initially for making your juice.
You will need:
900g golden caster sugar
1 large cinnamon stick
1 preserving pan or very large, heavy-bottomed pan and a long-handled spoon
A jelly bag stand and bag, or, as I do, a stool, muslin square and string
Clean, sterilised jam jars and lids - probably three or four large jars or an assortment of smaller ones. You can sterilise jars by putting them through a hot dishwasher cycle and using them whilst still hot, or wash in warm soapy water and then put in a warm oven to dry completely, and again use whilst still hot.
- Harvest your fruit and discard any that is over ripe, or bad. Halve and de-stone your plums. Put all of your fruit in your pan and add 1 litre of water.
- Bring very slowly to the boil, then simmer for about forty-five minutes. Don't let the mixture simmer too quickly or you'll lose to much liquid.
- Either get out your jelly bag stand, or prepare your homemade version. Tip the hot fruit and liquid into the muslin/jelly bag and allow to stand over night. Don't forget to put your bowl underneath to catch the juice!
- Put a clean plate in the fridge - you're going to need this to test for setting point.
- Discard your fruit mush and measure the resulting liquid. When I made it I ended up with 1200ml. Put your juice back in the clean pan and slowly bring to the boil. For every 600ml of juice, add 450g sugar (so I added 900g). Stir until dissolved.
- Bring back to the boil and wait for setting point. You can do this the scientific way with a jam thermometer (you need to get to 104.5 C), or the arty way and look at the colour/consistency and test on a cold plate. Although I used to use a thermometer, I actually find I get more reliable results from the latter approach! As the mixture boils you will notice that the bubbles will gradually change and become more glossy in appearance - this can take as little as five minutes, or as much as fifteen. From about five minutes onwards, I start taking out a teaspoon and putting it on the cold plate. Allow to cool for a few seconds, then push with the tip of your finger. If the mixture appears to ripple slightly, you've reached setting point and need to take the pan off the heat straight away. Keep testing for fifteen minutes - if you still don't think you've reached setting point at this stage, take your pan off the heat anyway and allow the mixture to cool slightly. If it really isn't setting, add a little more sugar, bring back to the boil and keep checking. Repeat until set.
- Skim off the frothy scum and pour into your jars (which ideally should still be warm).
- Label and store in a cool, dark place. Or get out some bread and butter for a quick quality control check!