Monday, 28 September 2015

Harvest Monday -elderberry and apple jelly

We've had a few lovely sunny days recently, (chilly in the shade and at night though), which is keeping the harvests coming along, albeit a bit slower this week. I haven't got photos of everything but you get the idea -
Blackberries, chard and Dwarf beans and courgettes, all from the plot
Tomatoes from the lean-to at home. I picked a few more too,and took them round to our neighbour when we popped in to meet their 2 day old baby girl.....eep, so cute. I will be popping round a lot!
Runner beans in the back garden still coming,
A couple of different pickings
The bean plant that over-wintered in the soil hasn't produced any pickable beans yet but it has some teeny ones that might grow big enough (actually you can see some of the flowers from it in the bottom left of the pic above)
Meals have included, poached eggs and veggies on toast
Veggies with spicy bean pie (a quick meal last night after a day out at the beach with Jan's young nephews who were visiting with her sister)
This week I also decided to start sprouting beans again (after a break of several months....the seeds I had before were really old and lots of them didn't sprout and just went mushy). So, we bought a new pack of mixed beans for sprouting, which have sprouted really quickly, I've done two jars in a row in less than a week! Sprouted beans are meant to be good for helping with thyroid conditions too, so good for Jan.
Nice with noodles
And with quinoa. I also made a lovely salad for lunch today, with toms, dwarf beans, courgette etc) but no photo, just tasty memories ;)
So on to the jelly.....last week I picked elderberries and froze them for when I could get hold of some apples. Luckily for me, one the other allotment holders has a big apple tree in her garden nearby and has lots of spare windfalls, thank you Carly.
So I decided to make elderberry and apple jelly, using the hedgerow jelly recipe from The River Cottage Handbook 'Preserves' as a base.
The rough quantities are:
1kg crab apples or cooking apples (I used sharp eaters, which seemed to have ok pectin)
1kg berries (blackberries, elderberries, Rowan berries etc) I used mainly elderberries from the freezer plus a few blackberries I'd picked that day
Lots of granulated sugar (I use organic Demerara)
First of all, give the apples a wash and then chop them up, including all the cores etc (these contain the pectin) and add the berries (the elderberries are in the bottom of the pan under the apples). I also added some spices at this point (ginger and cinnamon)
Add 1.2 litres of water and then cook them all for a while until soft. I then mush them up with the back of a spoon to get more juice out.
Set yourself up some kind of contraption for straining out the juice (overnight if possible). I use an upturned stool - the jug needs to be quite close to the bottom of the bag so the liquid doesn't splash too much. Make sure you scold your straining bag first too, to kill any bacteria.
The morning after, lots of juice. I do then use a spoon to gently press down and get more juice out, as I'm not too worried about getting a cloudy jelly and want to maximise quantity! Straining straight into a jug means you can see straight away how much liquid you have - the next stage needs maths, yikes - for every 600ml of liquid you need 450g sugar
Add the liquid to a clean pan, bring slowly to the boil and then gradually add the sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. I also added a few cloves at this point (keep count of the cloves so you know how many to find. You could add them when cooking the fruit at the beginning instead, but I forgot)
The recipe says then rapid boil for 9 - 10 minutes, without stirring, until the setting point is reached (this always takes much longer for me though). I also have a tip at this point - do not get distracted and let your pan boil over...oops! For a start it wastes your precious liquid (and is also very messy). You can also scoop off any scum if you like (it's just aerated liquid)
Finally, pour your jelly into sterilised jars and seal up using your preferred method (I re-use lids if they are in good condition but otherwise use the selophane discs which shrink over the jar tops. Now, I must admit I did clean up a little bit before taking this photo, hehe. This is the point at which I scoop out any scum and the cloves, which float to the top of the jar.

So, 6 jars of yummy jelly. I will probably give these as Christmas presents.

This coming week I need to dig up my potatoes so that I can use the space for planting out garlic sets and my little brassica plants....we'll see if that actually happens!

Linking in with Harvest Monday on Daphne's Dandelions



  1. Hi Lou, your jellies look beautiful. My autumn gatherings have produced 6lb apple chilli jelly (apples from son's trees, chills from our green house) and 6lb apple and damson chutney, damsons from the market. Damsons and blackberries (from up the lane) fermenting away with sugar and gin to hopefully produce something good to drink at Christmas. Loads more apples so may go foraging for elderberries or blackberries if I can't find them. More jelly to come I think. My garlic was on the meagre side but I'm determined to start again this month. DO you recycle your own garlic or buy in the bulbs to plant the cloves?

    1. Thanks Lynne, the jellies have a nice colour. Ooh, yours sound yummy! The gin concoction sounds like a classic. I made sloe vodka last year for Xmas presents but didn't get round to sorting it out, so it's still up on the shelf ready to be put in nice bottles this year hopefully.
      I haven't grown garlic properly for a few years as lost a whole batch to mould, so last year / this year was first time I've grown it in a while. I bought some bulbs from the organic veg stall on the market to plant because previously when I bought some 'proper' growing garlic it was really expensive and tiny cloves, but I know other people have more luck and buy it in every year. I still have some of this year's garlic harvest so might try planting out a few cloves from that but otherwise will get some more from the market I think.

    2. Thanks Lou. I've never actually seen garlic labelled specifically for planting, and times getting on, so I think I'll have a look online for some garlic to plant. I've had three consecutive years of total rubbish, so one last attempt! Can't be THAT difficult, I keep telling myself! :)

    3. Hehe, yep the planting garlic is more suited to our climate rather than stuff grown in hot countries Lynne (I've just planted out some organic garlic from Italy I think, from the market, it's more convenient for me than finding some proper bulbs). Hmm, have you tried growing in pots? That might be worth a go.

  2. After a slug eaten start our runner beans have done incredibly well to us have the climbing French beans. We won't grow dwarf French beans again as the climbing ones were so successful.

    1. The slugs have been bad this year haven't they sue. I don't have enough things to grow many climbing beans up but find that the dwarf beans are good under the corn - i know your corn is planted very close together though so not an option. I might actually try that next year to get better pollination of the corn kernels. My purple climbing bean plants all got eaten by slugs /snails so I didn't get any this year, even after a second sowing which also got eaten, doh!

  3. So envious of those beans! We barely had a harvest of them this year so nothing to take us through the winter, although we did get a lot of yellow Romano's, so I suppose that's something, at least.

    I have the River Cottage Preserves cookbook as well & it looks to have some great recipes in it, although I don't think I've made anything from it yet. I'll be dusting off all my cookbooks soon I think - I was just saying to Phuong that since having the kids, my cookbooks have taken a bit of a hiatus. And you know, next time I make plum jelly, I'm going to do the old squeezing of the jelly bag as well - I'm with you...give me taste & quantity over clarity anytime!

    1. Thanks Margaret, I haven't had as many beans as last year, which was a great harvest. But there's been enough to keep eating regularly though not enough to have any spare to freeze (yet?)
      Oh yes, it's got some great recipes in, I quite fancy the pickled runner beans, hmm. I've also made saucy haw ketchup before, many years ago - when I hadn't had the allotment very long so went foraging more for other goodies in the neighbourhood - I actually still have a bottle in the fridge that looks ok. My main memory of making it was a lot of effort pressing through a sieve to get the flesh off the berries!

  4. I love the upside down stool for draining your jelly. Very inventive.

    1. Thanks Daphne, Ive used this method a few years as I didn't want to buy an extra 'thing' to have to store somewhere....I expect I saw a photo somewhere of a similar set-up? I dunno, it's been so long!

  5. Your method for making the jelly is exactly the same as the one I use for my so-called Hedgerow Jelly - I suspend the jelly bag from the knobs of cupboards that overhang the sink, but in our previous house we used a stool, like you have done. It works! Getting the set right is the tricky part of jelly-making. I like jelly to have a bit of wobble to it - not to be set too firm.

    1. Haha, yep anything to get a bit of height Mark. I'm not very scientific when it comes to jelly making as I don't do it often long as it doesn't come out all runny I'm happy! I probably over boil it a bit actually, not much wobble but at least you can get a spoon or knife in!

  6. I love your jam straining stool contraption - genius!

    You've reminded me that I want to start sprouting some seeds, I'll have to find my sprouting jar!

    1. Haha, thanks s-h Susie.
      I go through phases of seed sprouting, but the current pack seems to be a really good mix and sprouts really quickly too.