Fireside jelly

Fireside jellyI spotted this brilliant recipe by Diana Henry in The Telegraph a couple of years ago.  As it would be PERFECT over Christmas on hot toasted muffins or crumpets, I thought you should all know about it as it would make a very decent Xmas gift for someone you love.

Fireside Jelly

Ingredients  fills aproximately four 500ml (18fl oz) jars.
2.5kg (5lb oz) cooking apples
Approx 1kg (2lb 4oz) granulated sugar
Zest of approx 2 oranges, removed in broad strips
Approx 16cm (6in) piece of root ginger, peeled and roughly grated
1 cinnamon stick, halved, optional

How to prepare
Wash the apples and cut into rough chunks. (There’s no need to peel or core them, but do remove bruised bits.) Put into a preserving pan or stockpot and cover with 1.5 litres (2¾ pints) of water. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer until the apples are completely soft – about 45 minutes.

Set up a jelly bag – I hang mine from a door handle in the kitchen over a large bowl. Ladle the apple mush and liquid into the jelly bag hung over the bowl. Don’t press the apples or you will get a cloudy jelly – just leave to drip overnight.

Measure the liquid the next day. For every 600ml (1 pint) collected you will need 450g (1lb) sugar, the zest, in broad strips, of ½ orange, and a 4cm (1½in) piece of ginger, roughly grated. Put the liquid into a preserving pan with the sugar and heat gently, stirring from time to time to help dissolve the sugar.

Meanwhile put a small plate (preferably metal) into the freezer. Put the orange zest and ginger into a muslin bag, tie it up, and add to the apple juice. Bring to the boil and boil until the setting-point is reached – 104.5°C on a kitchen thermometer.

If you don’t have one, do the wrinkle test (I do both). When the mixture looks heavy and glossy and the rolling bubbles have subsided, remove the plate from the freezer and spoon some of the jam on to it. (Take your jelly off the heat while you test for a set or you could overcook it.)
Return the plate to the freezer for a couple of minutes. Bring it out and push the mixture with your index finger. The wrinkles made with your finger should stay in place if the jelly is ready. If it isn’t, put the pan back on the heat and boil again.
When the mixture is at setting-point, skim off any scum from the surface of the jelly and discard. Ladle into warm sterilised jars, adding half a cinnamon stick to each if you wish, and seal while warm. While the jelly is setting, shake the jar gently to ensure that the cinnamon stick doesn’t stay at the top. Wipe the jars clean with a warm wet cloth, and label. Keeps for at least a year.