It’s turning into a bit of a heartbreaking growing season 2012. The crazy wet and wild summer months we are having here in the UK is causing all kinds of problems. Too wet so that the slug and aphid populations are booming and recently destructive gale force winds. For June we’ve been experiencing some wild winds! Shaking and bending all and sundry at our plot. Our allotment plot can be very exposed at times to both searing heat (we are pretty much south-facing all day long) and the strong prevailing winds whipping across 18a in an annoyingly diagonal fashion!
We have 4 minarette cordon fruit trees closely planted on the plot, a Conference Pear, Summer Sun Cherry, Victoria Plum and Russet Apple. Of these the pear is too young to fruit, the cherry succumbed to a horrendous attack of blackfly, the plum blossom a victim of the late frosts all we were left with was the russet apple with any fruit. It was positively glistening with fruit up and down its Column. Now I knew the time would come I would need to thin these out but the bully that is the wind barged ahead and did it for me! Talk about a June drop! The wind whilst we were away on our holiday took away at least half our apples. Only for the winds to return this week and claim another batch. We are now left with around a third left on the branches. There’s nothing quite as disheartening than seeing your baby apples you’ve been nurturing lying on the ground useless. Being forced to Compost the first of the windfalls as past their best, I thought surely these recent victims shouldn’t have grown in vain? Then it came to me a windfall jelly?
Though I only had a handful of apples I figured if I pimped it up I could at least make a teacupful of jelly. I’ve been thinking about jellies flavoured with herbs of late so took a look at our herb bed that’s gone bananas in all the rain. The feverfew and sage have been bullying the meek little lemon thyme into a corner causing it to become leggy. So I took the opportunity to cut it back and use the trimmings in my jelly. Pairing the Russet Apple windfalls with some of the last of our Blackberries in the freezer. The addition of the Lemon Thyme gives a lovely fresh lemony note to the jelly. A recipe I think I might just resurrect with my Crab Apples come autumn. Though this recipe only makes a very small batch, it’s just enough to enjoy on a few slice of what you fancy. Mine was polished off on some hearty chunks of homemade oatmeal & rye sodabread. This kind of jam is what they call a fridge jam, it’s not really a keeper! So eat it within a month of making, keeping it covered with clingfilm. Making small batches of jam like this is a great way of testing out new flavour combinations or even just a useful vessel for the last scrapping of jam in the pan. Waste not want not!
Windfall Apple, Blackberry and Lemon Thyme in-a-tea-cup-jam
Windfall Apples (or crab apples later in the season)
Equal quantity of Blackberries. Fresh or frozen
Bunch of Lemon Thyme or your chosen herb
- Wash and trim your windfalls. Halve and place in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
- Add a little water and half of the lemon thyme. stew down until the fruit breaks down.
- Add the blackberries and continue to cook until the berries have broken down.
- Mash the fruit mix with a potato masher to get the juices flowing.
- Assemble your Jelly stand and pour the mixture into a scolded jelly bag and allow to drip into a bowl over night. Don’t be tempted to give it a squeeze! You’ll end up with a cloudy jelly. What I like to do is place a weight on top of the mix, like a heavy glass or jam jar.
- Once all your juices have drained through, discard. I add this to my compost bin.
- Measure out the liquid your left with.
- Now here’s the tricky part. You need to work out how much sugar is needed to add to the juices. The Jelly rule is to add 750g sugar for every litre of juice, 3/4 sugar to your juice volume. Now, my maths is quite bad but I ended with 60ml and 45g of sugar.
- transfer your juice to a clean pan adding the sugar and mix until dissolved.
- Bring to the boil rapidly.
- Attach your jam thermometer if using. With such small quantities it won’t take long! So keep an eye, it takes mere minutes to reach settings point (around 104c).
- Turn heat of immediately and stir in the last of the lemon thyme (leaves only) stir through gently to distribute.
- Pour straight into a clean tea-cup of your choice and leave to cool and set.