Thursday, 29 September 2011

Rowan Jelly

Yes!  On my third attempt,  it worked.  We found a rowan tree heavily laden and not too bitter at all.  The berries were definitely ripe, because as we picked, the little berries rained down on me, which was quite fun. I spent a good half hour crawling around and squashing berries, ruining my trousers, picking up all the shiny fresh ones.  This was a bit compulsive if time-consuming, as it was a huge tree, and eventually I was dragged away - with a whole kg of rowans in my foraging bag.

So this is how it is done:  Pick over the berries, calmly letting all spiders escape - otherwise the berries are very likely to go all over the floor. Then a good wash, and straight into a big pan covered in water, plus about a small pint.  Some recipes call for the same amount of crab apples to provide pectin - not needed. Cover and bubble till  berries are soft, which turns their vibrant pink colour to palest orange Then strain the lot through a scalded jelly bag.  There are ingenious contraptions you can invest in to hold the jelly bag over the bowl, but I just use various chopsticks and colanders. A piece of folded muslin cloth would do. I think my first jelly was strained through a clean t-shirt. Leave overnight to drip through.  The important thing is not to touch or squeeze the jelly bag.  This makes it cloudy.

Next morning, you have a bowl of juice the colour of which you will never have seen before.  Measure it, and for every pint add around a pound of sugar - standard measure for  jellies and jams.  Slowly bring to the boil stirring a lot, because the sugar must be dissolved before it boils.  Then boil quite hard for a bit.  Setting point is reached when you do the cold saucer thing, but I find you can tell by the way it drips off the wooden spoon - a little slowly.  Also, if the droplets just spread on the saucer, it's not done.  If they stay round and proud, done.

Pour into sterilized jars.  I just hot-wash them in the dishwasher.  Seal.

Serve with game or pork.... for an interesting, if inexplicable flavour.



  1. Wow... what a beautiful color!!! Were there lots of spiders in it? You are so brave! Maybe I can deal with a couple spiders as long as there are no warms! This looks beautiful and I'm sure it tastes delicious! I've never preserved any fruits before but hopefully one day I get to try. I'm sure it's very special to make your own and I can see it can be addicting! :-)

  2. Oh thanks! There were loads of spiders, but they were quite sweet and delicate, really.