Stepping back in time at Kew Gardens the royal kitchens now silent and deserted, I tried to imagine the everyday hustle and bustle of busy cooks and servants. For sure larders were once filled with seasonal preserves and feeling a little nostalgic, somehow, apple jelly came to mind. Inspiration can come from the strangest of places! I love taking time to make small batches of preserves and this sweet Apple Jelly with Rosemary makes a delicious condiment to serve alongside a cheese board with a mature cheddar or semi-hard goats cheese.
When making fruit jellies, a jelly bag is helpful when straining the liquid from the cooked apples or you could use a colander lined with a fine muslin cloth. A candy thermometer is useful but not necessary, you can test the setting point using the good old fashioned wrinkle (see note in recipe) test… Mum always used this method. Best to cook the apples the night before and let the liquid drip slowly through the jelly bag without squeezing or pushing. This is the secret to clear jellies. Not sure I would win any competitions with visible air bubbles in the jelly… but who cares when you’re not competing 🙂 Because I had them in my store cupboard, added a few dried hibiscus flowers for their tart flavor and also adding a little more color to the apple jelly.
Use this apple jelly to glaze over strawberries on a fruit tart or dark fruit cake. Or, add a spoonful to liven up your favorite Guinness stew recipe. A little smeared over chicken liver pâté would work too. Serve alongside a pan seared duck breast for a quick sweet sauce. And if you are in the mood for preserving, check out this easy no cook raspberry jam or doughnut peach conserve.
Apple Jelly with Rosemary
1kg Gala or Pink Lady apples, washed and sliced (do not peel or core)
peel of half a lemon
3 dried hibiscus flowers, (optional)
2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
300g granulated sugar
2 tablespoons of strained lemon juice
small sprigs of rosemary, to place inside jars
You will need three 125ml sterilized jars or one large one
How to make:
Start the night before; place the apples, lemon peel, hibiscus, rosemary and water into a saucepan. Bring the contents to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Cook until the fruit is very soft which should take about 20 to 30 minutes. Half way through cooking, press down on the fruit with a potato masher and give a few stirs, this helps extract more of the apple flavor. Spoon the contents of the saucepan into a jelly bag strainer set over a bowl or, spoon into a colander lined with muslin set into a clean saucepan. Do not push or press the cooked apples, let the liquid drip through slowly.
Next day; Discard the pulp and pour the strained apple liquid (500ml) into a medium saucepan. Add sugar and lemon juice. Over gentle heat stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil. Reduce heat a little and boil until setting point has reached, this may take about 30 minutes. If you have inserted a candy thermometer it should read around 235°F/112°C. Remove the white scum before carefully pouring the hot liquid into prepared jars. Place a small sprig into each jar and seal with a lid. Cool completely and store in the refrigerator for about a month.
How to know when your preserve has reached setting point using the wrinkle test: When making conserves, jams or jellies, spoon a teaspoon of the boiling liquid onto a cold saucers from the freezer, let sit for about a minute in the fridge until cold, then push the jelly with your finger… if the preserve wrinkles it has reached setting point. If not, boil for a few minutes and test again.