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Thompson BS: The other recipe thread is too long (711* d) RE: BS: The other recipe thread is too long 13 Nov 21

That sounds delicious!

This is the season for making jams and jellies, so I've started making some Christmassy spiced apple jelly and quince jelly. Here's the method. It's a two-day job, with a couple of days' gap between the days. Another tip: all jam and especially jelly is much easier to make if you do it about a litre at a time, no more.

First day. Do this bit in the morning. Preferably using crab apples, or sour apples, wash them, chop them, put them in a normal cooking pot, hold your hand on the top of them and fill with fresh water till it's up to your hand. (I don't know what the quantity I use in, but it's enough to fill a biggish pot about a third.)
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for an hour or so, giving the odd mash down with a potato masher.
Take off the heat and pour the mush into a mesh bag and let the syrup drain off the apples. (If you're lazy like me, use a strainer first, then a bag.) Let them drain all day. If you have room and no mice, let them continue to drain for 24 hours.
Put the syrup in the fridge in a glass or ceramic container. I find that leaving it for three days or so works much better. If you have hens or know anyone who has, they love the discarded apple mush.

Second day. After the syrup has been aside a couple of days, take it out and assemble your tools: preferably a conserve pan (flared and heavy-bottomed), a chopping board and sharp knife, citrus squeezer, strainer, measuring jug, long wooden spoon, jam thermometer which you'll hang on the side of the pot, bowl and scales for weighing sugar, jamjars, beaked (preferably) ladle, skimmer, citrus zester (microplane), hot water ready to wash lids and ladle in near-boiling water, enough jars (heating in a 100C oven), paper to rest the jars on while you fill them. Labels for the jars.
Put the lids and the ladle into the hot water.
Assemble your ingredients: syrup, sugar (I prefer Demerara sugar and use 600 grams to a litre of syrup), a washed lemon, a washed orange, cloves, cinnamon.
Put your syrup in the conserve pan and bring it slowly to the boil. At the same time, put your jamjars into the oven at 100C (I usually have around five jars at a time); put your sugar into a shallow dish like a roasting pan and put it in the oven with the jamjars to warm. As it warms, occasionally open the oven and give the sugar a stir with your fingers.
When the sugar is warm, add it to the syrup and stir it in. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and the orange. Add the cinnamon (half a stick for a litre of juice) and cloves. Bring the syrup to a boil, then a raging, foaming boil, stirring occasionally so it doesn't catch. When it's at 105C on the jam thermometer, set a timer for 15 minutes. Keep it at the foaming boil, stirring occasionally.
At this point, you can test the set. Traditionally this is done by putting a few drops on a cold plate or spoon, leaving it a minute and then giving it a push with a finger to see if it wrinkles. I'm not great at this, so I just cross my fingers; if it turns out not to be perfectly set, you can always put it back in the pot and give it another hard boil for five minutes. At this stage you can skim the jelly to take out the cinnamon and cloves. I usually leave them in, though.
Put off the oven and take the jars out onto the door or onto a metal surface; I put paper under them so any dribbles land on it and don't have to be wiped up. Take your lids and ladle out of the hot water, and ladle the jelly into the jars. (If you don't have a beaked ladle for this, a clean wide-mouthed funnel helps) Go away and have a cup of your preferred beverage for a while. Screw the caps on and put the jars of bright red jelly on the windowsill where you can admire it with the light shining through it.
Assuming it's jelled perfectly, when it's cooled, label it (I use the name - "Apple jelly" - my name and the date, or at least 11/21.) You can also get fancy-dancy and put adorable gingham caps held with ribbons on the jars so they make nice presents.

It's also currently quince season. You can use quinces from the Japanese quince bush, or from a proper quince tree. At the moment they're dear - €2.50 in the cheapest local greengrocer I've found them in - but if you go to the fruit and vegetable market it's possible to buy them at a much cheaper wholesale price. Quinces store well, and are also delicious roasted instead of apples if you're having roast pork, being pleasantly astringent.

If you're making quince jelly, do more or less the same as with the apples. However, there's a secret: you can also make delicious quince paste/ quince cheese/ membrillo with the mush. To do that, rub off the nap from the surface with a thick cloth, chop and core the quinces, discard the core and pips and then continue with the jelly-making in the same way as with apples; I also add some cardamom seeds to the mix - about a quarter teaspoonful.

When you've made the jelly, put the mush into a heavy-bottomed pot (I use the conserve pan) with the same proportion of sugar - 600 grams to 1 kilo of mush - and bring it to a boil. Simmer it fairly fast, giving the odd stir with a wooden spoon, for 30 to 45 minutes, until it parts like the Red Sea when you draw the spoon through it. At this stage put it in a flat baking pan with baking parchment under it, stroke it down, and leave it to cool for a couple of days. (I use a couple of pizza pans, one under, one over). You can then wrap it in greaseproof paper with foil around it, or put it in jars. It's very nice as a relish, especially with cheeses, and most especially with manchego cheese.

If you don't want the palaver of coring but do want to reuse the mush, in either apples or quinces, you can pass the mush through a mouli instead. And if you don't have hens available, you can also make apple sauce with the apple mush.

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