Apple & Lavender Jelly
I made some of this last year, and more by luck than judgement, had a beautiful amber coloured jelly
with a light, fresh flavour, and the first small batch this year was similar, good enough to win a First at our local Show too. However, when I looked at the apple juice this time , it was slightly greenish and I wasn't too sure what colour the jelly would
be, so I added some edible colouring I have used for baking. Wow, did it end up bright, so I guess I overdid it somewhat
Using lavender as an ingredient in anything does run the risk of
the end result either tasting of perfume, or slightly medicinal, so I have refined the method to try to control this more.
Be aware this recipe is in two stages, and dripping out the
apple juice takes several hours: i leave it overnight. Boiling out the jelly can be done the next day. Although this method looks long, it really is relatively quick and very straightforward, so don't let the length of the instructions put you off... I have
given a lot of detail in case you have never made this type of jelly before
What you need: (makes enough for 6 x small jars)
4-5 lb of apples
lavender heads, ones that feel slightly oily when you rub the flowers through your fingers
white granulated sugar: 1kg per 1l of apple juice , once "dripped"
Food colouring if you'd like to use it... not essential
What to do:
1. Roughly chop the apples. The peels and cores contain a lot of pectin, so do not peel them at all, chop them from whole, cores and all, just removing any brown parts or evidence of damage from caterpillars
. This is a good way of using windfalls, and why the weight of apples needed is so imprecise..depends how much you cut out
2. Put the apples in a large preserving pan, and add enough cold water to cover the fruit. Bring to the boil
3. Simmer for 45 minutes, by which time the apples should be very soft. If not, give them another 15 minutes
4. Turn off the heat and crush the fruit lightly with the back of your spoon: you are trying to extract juice but not
make a fine puree
5. Allow to cool for half an hour. Spend this time setting up your jelly bag with a bowl underneath it. I have one with a metal tripod stand now, but I used to hang it off a broom handle across the seat of a chair,
weghted down by heavy books. Putting newspaper under the bowl is a good idea ... I always manage to splash some juice when ladliing it into the bag, and it saves a mess on the floor
6. Now carefully ladle the contents of the pan into the
jelly bag. Leave it for around 8 hours to drip, or overnight
7. Next morning, sterilise your jars in the oven and keep them warm. Pour boiling water over the lids, in a small bowl
8. Take the bowl away from under the
jelly bag before moving the bag... saves accidentally dropping apple flesh into your carefully strained juice!
9. I usually discard the pulp, but some people use it to make something out of... I have quite enough produce to deal with without
adding this puree to the list, but I thought I should just mention the possibility
10. Measure the volume of juice, and pour it carefully into the preserving pan
11. Add the sugar: 1 kg to 1l of juice
Warm slowly, stirring until the sugar is dissolved,and then add your lavender flowers, whole.
13. Bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and leave for 20-30 minutes. Taste after 20 minutes to check the level of flavouring. Add food colouring
at this point if you want to... a very tiny bit!
14. Remove the flower heads with a slotted spoon, then bring the liquid to a boil. If there are any tiny pieces of flower in the jelly, it looks quite nice actually, but if you want to, remove
them with a small spoon. Do not burn yourself, the jelly is very, very hot
15. Boil until setting point is reached. There will probably be scum/froth form. Do not stir this in or even touch it yet. It is formed from the waxiness of the
apple skins and is not harmful, but you do not want it to cloud your jelly
16. I remembered I had a jam thermometer in the drawer, so boiled until the temperature was 103-104C, which is a gentle set. You can test for set using a small amount
on a cold saucer though, as I often do
17 Turn off the heat. Take your your jars from the oven
18. Now is the moment to gently lift off that scum. It should be all together against the side of the pan, and you can carefuly
edge a slotted spoon under it and take it out. If there are small pieces that escape, use a teaspoon to catch them. Do not stir the jelly now
19. Ladle the jelly into the jars, filling to the shoulder. Carefully wipe off any spillage
from the necks of the jars and put on the (dried) lids. Leave them to set, being very careful if you need to move them before then.
And there! You should have crystal clear, softly set jelly, to serve
with scones and cream, use to fill a sponge cake or just eat on toast. It will keep for over a year in a cool, dark place, and I love being able to go out to the garage and come back with something so summery when there is snow on the ground