Thursday, 4 October 2007
Determined to press on, and now rather enjoying life on my perching stool in the kitchen, the rosehip jelly is underway. It's a three day, really quite leisurely affair involving a Maslin pan, a long wooden spoon, a jelly bag and stand, a bowl to catch slow dripping fruit in and, ahem, a thermometer. Yes I gave in, terrified that the stuff won't set when I reach that critical stage tomorrow.
There are few things more pleasurable than gathering your own wild fruit, hulling it with help from nimbler fingers than mine, and then starting the long and absorbing process towards the delights of homemade Rosehip and Apple Jelly. The Cottage Smallholder blog is a really beautiful oasis which chronicles all I hold dear about enjoying nature and her abundance. Their rosehip jelly will be a really lovely accompaniment to crumpets in winter, packed full of more Vitamin C than the largest orange in the world, and just very pretty and delicate in the jar.
First up, the artificial blast of wintery frost. No it didn't arrive, so we stuck our 2lbs of hips in the freezer for a couple of days, giving us time to do other stuff.
I loved how pretty they looked when they came out. You can imagine them hanging from a branch in the early morning sunshine.
Duly out of the freezer and defrosted they are hulled, then placed in this really wonderful large receptacle, the Maslin Pan. It is stainless steel, preferable to aluminium which strips out the Vitamin C.
Here's the three stage, three day recipe I've been working to, with some adaptations that I hope will work.
Rosehip and Apple Jelly from The Cottage Smallholder
4lb sweet eating apples or cooking apples
Zest of half a lemon if you fancy it and your stomach likes it. Mine doesn't.
Juice of half a lemon (omit if using cooking apples as they are already quite acidic)
sugar (1 pint strained juice to 1lb sugar. Yikes)
Stainless steel large pan, long wooden spoon, jelly bag, stand and big bowl to strain it all into. Thermometer if desperately anxious.
Top and tail 2lb rosehips and cover with just enough water. Bring to boil slowly and simmer until it has all softened and can be bashed about a bit with a masher. This can take about an hour with hard hips. But just have the heat on low and top up water if it all starts to look a bit gloopy in there.
Now the great transferring of pulp to jelly bag.
The jelly bag is a natty muslin strainer into which you pour the contents of the Maslin pan. The bag sits over a sterile steel bowl to catch the juice, slowly. Drip. Drip. Drip. It takes 12 HOURS.
Incredible. So you just go to bed and see what is there in the morning.
Well, as I said, the first day was rosehips and cooking them was a bit of trial and error. Plainly not enough liquid emerging at the first go, so panicking at 12.30am I put all the pulp back in pan, squooshed with a litre more boiling water for 10 mins, and strained it all through again for the rest of the night. Two strainings are good for rosehips as they have hairy seeds, which give you an itchy bottom if ingested. Not nice. Minus the seeds they are fine. The more observant among you may have noticed the gloop above is green. That is because I photographed the apples I am currently straining. I was just too absorbed to take photos last night when it all seemed to be going a bit awry.
Cooking the apples. Simple, 20 minute simmer, squishy, done. Straining at the moment.
Tomorrow is the real test. I have to measure the liquid from both fruit, calculate sugar, add it, bring it slowly to the boil and as apples are high in pectin not boil it too long. Will it set? Will I know what I'm doing at all? Will it all get a bit sticky? Oh the suspense! What a cliffhanger! Who needs soaps?
I met my psychiatrist today. I forgot to look at his shoes. He seems nice.
My mother is unwell.
My Grandma has a brain scan tomorrow.