Making cornel cherry jelly today. Here they are in the pan, simmering with some roughly cut up apples, the tartest I could find. Cornel cherries (Cornus mas) are a member of the dogwood family. The berries, rich in Vitamin C, ripen in September, which is when I picked them. Since then they have been in the freezer, which might affect the taste of the jelly. Fridges and freezers have a way of turning flavours comatose. We’ll see. It’s a bitingly cold day today, with a wan sun lighting up the few remaining autumn leaves on the hill opposite my window. Slowly the cloud cover is taking over and colours are getting more ashen. It feels like a the right day to be making a bright red, sticky sweet jelly.
The method is easy.
Weigh the berries. Put them, together with an equal weight of roughly chopped apples, into a pan, cover with water and simmer until soft and pulpy. Then comes the laborious bit: straining it through muslin. I line a fine sieve with a cloth and wait for the juice to drip through under its own weight, then give it a good pounding with a spoon to encourage even more to go through. Some particles will escape through this way, but I don’t mind. I even scrape the bottom of the sieve every so often to clear it, so that yet more can get through. This results in a cloudy jelly. But just using the juice that strains through of its own accord seems a terrible waste in terms of the lovely pulp you have to then throw away.
Having said the method is easy, the results are never predictable. Sometimes it sets beautifully. Sometimes it doesn’t. It all depends on the sugar ratio and the pectin in the apples I suppose. Anyway, it tastes good with all kinds of roast meat.