On top of an already busy week (the good kind of busy this week), I got my jam making on. Like baking, I don't eat an awful lot of jam, but I love the process, so I wanted to get it done this weekend to bring along to give to friends at the event this weekend.
The first of the hard frosts came last night, so I picked my dwarf crab apples just in time. The recipe I use involves equal volumes of apple with honey, so it can easily be adapted to any volume of fruit.
To start, I cut the apples in half and added just enough water to cover them. I put the pot onto the boil and after about half an hour, mushed up all the apples to release the juice. I boiled the mush for about another half hour, then strained the pulp though muslin cloth. My yield this year was just under three pints of juice, which is not bad at all!
The easiest way I've found to calculate the amount of honey you need is to empty one pot of honey into the pot, then use that to measure out the apple juice. This mixture doesn't require any additional gelling agent thanks to the naturally occuring pectin in the apples. I've made this in previous, wetter years, and I've ended up having to add commercial pectin, as a little too much has ended up being leached from the fruit. I set the mix to a rolling boil, and just once, about halfway through, skimmed off the skum that was building on the surface. To test the jam, drop a little of the liquid onto a chilled plate. If it has a jelly like consistency after a few seconds, it's ready to jar!
And good golly is it ready? This batch was very ready to set. It was almost turning completely to jelly in the pot by the time I got to the last jar. The tartness of the apples combined with the sharp sweetness of the honey just calls out for a crusty white loaf. Nom.
The jars on the left are the crab apple jelly, and that's the natural colour from the apples. The jars on the right are chilli jam, using Nigella Lawson's recipe, though I failed to get this one to set right this year. Though it too calls out for crusty white loaves... and bacon. Om nom nom.