I’ve been drowning in fruit this month, with baskets of pears and crab apples all over the kitchen. It’s a lovely position to be in in many ways but the sheer volume can be a bit daunting, especially when you haven’t actually eaten all of last year’s bounty. I still have bottled pears and jars and jam and jelly in the store cupboard, in spite of giving quantities away to friends and family.
Luckily a friend came and did a bit of scrumping in the orchard but that still left me with more than four kilos of crab apples. As we have already made herb jellies of every description, as well as industrial amounts of chilli jelly, I wanted to do something slightly different.
This is what I came up with: the sloe gin gives the jelly an elusive hint of Campari bitterness which is very appealing. I think it will be good with game, lamb and duck, either as a relish or stirred into a sauce. It would also be a welcome addition to a cheese board. Or try it with a pâté, served with toasted brioche.
Be warned, crab apples contain a lot of pectin so it could reach setting point very quickly. Have your jars warming in the oven before you start.
Crab Apple and Sloe Gin Jelly
A quantity of crab apples
Granulated sugar (see method)
Sloe gin – 2 tbsp per 450g of sugar
Halve the crab apples, removing the stalks and any blemishes. Place in a large pan and add enough water to barely cover the fruit. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the fruit is has broken down.
Strain overnight through a jelly bag without pressing on the fruit, otherwise your jelly will be cloudy.
Measure the resulting liquid and for every 450ml, weigh out 450g of sugar. Put both in the cleaned pan on a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Turn up the heat and add a small nut of butter. This will prevent too much scum from forming and will vanish into the finished jelly. Boil without stirring until it is close to setting point, when the jelly starts to form pearls as it falls off a wooden spoon.
Stir in the sloe gin and continue to cook until setting point is reached: 105C with a jam thermometer or when a spoonful placed on a chilled saucer wrinkles after a few minutes when you push it with your finger. Skim off any scum, pot into sterilised jars and seal straight away.