I haven’t made a lot of jellies in the past for a couple of reasons. Firstly they seemed all a bit too much effort, and secondly I thought it was a waste of good fruit: a lot of it gets thrown away and you end up with a much smaller quantity of jelly than you would of jam.
However, having made the effort this year I am converted. And it seems that it isn’t actually as much effort as I had thought. Having a proper jelly strainer makes it all incredibly simple but you can make your own with some muslin and an upturned stool. I bought a strainer in the sales last year (or was it the year before?) and it has been languishing in the cupboard pretty much ever since.
Redcurrants are perfect for making jelly. I can never resist picking them because they are so pretty and then struggle to know what to do with them.
Last year I put some into the freezer with the intention of using them for redcurrant sauce for things like duck. I still haven’t found a recipe that doesn’t need redcurrant jelly as well as fresh redcurrants! So this year, as well as making some redcurrant curd, I decided to make some redcurrant jelly. But forgot to save any redcurrants for the freezer for sauces… Maybe next year I will manage both!
The basic principle of making jellies is to simmer your fruit until pulpy, strain off the juice, and then boil the juice with sugar until it reaches setting point, exactly as you would for jam.
There don’t seem to be any hard and fast rules although the majority of recipes use 1lb of sugar per 1 pint of juice (450g sugar for 600ml juice). This in itself is a little arbitrary as the amount of juice you will get will partly depend on how much water you have added to the fruit and how much of that has evaporated.
Jellies are great to make when you don’t have a lot of time. Each stage can be left until you are ready. The pulp can be left overnight to strain and you don’t need to make the jelly straight away. The juice can be covered and left in the fridge for a couple of days if necessary.
It’s important not to “help” the juice through the strainer if you want a clear jelly. They come out such beautiful jewel-like colours it would be a shame to make them cloudy for a bit more juice!
Jellies look and taste wonderful and make brilliant homemade gifts.
This batch made exactly a litre of juice but when I made blackberry jelly I topped up the juice to a pint as I thought it was pretty thick and would be fine. The thicker the juice the more concentrated the taste, I assume. And the less sweet the resulting jelly. I also assume that if you add too much water the jelly won’t set properly. The recipe I used for blackberry jelly used crabapples as well (four times the weight of blackberries to crabapples) but you can just use blackberries. For blackberry jelly you will also need some lemon juice.
Brilliant on toast, in cakes instead of jam, and of course for sauces.
These recipes will give you an idea of ratios for making jelly: just adjust the quantities for the amount of fruit you have.
1 litre water
450g sugar per 600ml / 1lb sugar per 1pt juice obtained
Either as above, substituting redcurrants for blackberries and adding 4 tablespoons of lemon juice or;
450g cooking or crab apples
Juice of 1 lemon
340g sugar per 570ml / ¾lb sugar per 1 pint juice obtained.
I have also tried this using 50/50 crabapples to blackberries but the blackberry taste is not as concentrated so it really depends what you are looking for.
I am also making some crabapple and rosemary jelly, hope to post that soon!