Harvesting the last of the wild plums from the hedgerow and being short on time, the thought of picking the stones out of bullace jam didn’t appeal. But it’s one of the family’s favourites so I wanted to keep the bullaces’ gorgeous greengage flavour while cutting the workload.
I decided to cook them up with half their weight in crab apples to make a jelly: a low-maintenance way to use the fruit and a really tasty, amber-coloured preserve.
Bullace and Crab Apple Jelly
1 kg bullaces
500g crab apples
Granulated sugar and water (see method)
De-stalk the bullaces and crab apples and give them a rinse. Halve or quarter the apples, depending on size, but don’t peel or core them – the skin and pips contain pectin and will help the set. Put in a pan, chucking in the bullaces whole, and cover with water (about a litre).
Bring gently to simmering point and cook until the fruit is soft and squashy. Remove from the heat and when it has cooled a little, pour into a scalded jelly bag suspended over a large bowl or jug. Allow it to drip slowly – don’t press the fruit or the jelly will be cloudy – just leave it for 12 hours or so.
Discard the pulp in the bag and measure the juice. For every 450ml/1 pint allow 450g/1lb of sugar. Return to the cleaned pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
Then boil rapidly without stirring until setting point is reached: 105C/220F with a jam thermometer or when a spoonful put on a chilled saucer wrinkles, once it has cooled, when you push it with your finger. Skim the jelly and pot into sterilised jars. Seal straight away. Best eaten within 12 months.