Monday, 15 January 2018



With our new allotment on The Weald in Hove we have acquired an old apple tree which was laden with fruit and we have used a lot of it for making Apple Jelly.

I make apple jelly most years but have just realised that I haven't posted any recipe.  Well here it is, just plain and simple basic apple jelly.

There are two basic things you need to know - 

 for every 1kg of apples you will need app. 1 litre of water - or just enough to ensure the fruit in the pan is covered;

 for every 600mls of juice you obtain you will need 450g of sugar - that;s 750g of sugar for every litre of juice  - or as my mother and grandmother would have said "a pound of sugar to a pint of juice"

You can use ordinary granulated white sugar but I would always recommend buying preserving sugar as this will produce a clearer jelly. You could use jam sugar, which has added pectin, but you really don't need this with apples as the pips and core are rich in pectin and you will always get a good set.


White Sugar
Lemons (2 for each 2kg of apples)


Put some of the water in a pan and add the juice of the lemons - I usually add the squeezed lemons as well. Wash the fruit and chop in half or quarters depending on the size of the apples and place in the pan as you do so. Make sure the apples remain just covered with the water as this will prevent discolouration.

Bring slowly to the boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes until the fruit is very soft. You can mash with a potato masher at this stage.

Sterilise a clean jelly bag with boiling water. Put all the fruit into the jelly bag and allow to drain over a clean bowl overnight - or for at least 12 hours (but no more than 24).  

Jelly bags and stands are readily available in cookshops and on-line, but if you don't have one a couple of squares of muslin will do either draped over a colander or large sieve or pinned/tied to the legs of an upside down stool or chair (which is what I used to do when I made jellies with my mother in my youth) with a bowl underneath.  Just make sure the muslin is clean and has been sterilised with boiling water.

Do not prod or squeeze the bag!  Its very tempting as you can always extract more juice and it is thick and sticky and will aid the setting BUT it will make the jelly cloudy. Squeezing won't spoil the taste; it will increase the quantity, but you won't have that beautiful clear jelly.

I have seen some recipes where the strained juice is left covered overnight whilst the remaining pulp is boiled up with half as much water as the first time round, then left to strain overnight and the resulting juice added to the first batch. But in my case the pulp went straight back to the allotment and into the compost.

Measure the juice and put in a stainless steel pan and add sugar in the quantity (pound to a pint) as in 2 above. Heat gently, stirring all the time until the sugar has dissolved then bring to a rapid boil. Keep a watchful eye as it may suddenly foam up. Take care that it doesn't boil over by lowering the heat.

Boil rapidly until the setting point is reached, probably after 20 minutes - but could be shorter or longer.  The best way to test for setting point is with a thermometer, which should read 220C, but I don't have one (must put it on the Xmas Wish List!), so I rely on the cold plate method.  Drop a little of the jelly on a cold, dry plate and leave in a cool place for a couple of minutes. If it forms a skin which wrinkles when you draw your finger across it then setting poin has been reached.  If it doesn't, boil a little longer and then repeat the test.

When setting point has been reached, remove from heat and skim off any scum that appears on the surface with a metal spoon. 

The jelly can now be poured into warm, sterilised jars and the lids screwed on tightly.
You should have a beautifully clear jelly.  The jars should be stored in a cool dark place as the jelly will darken and lose some clarity with age.

To prevent this, the best suggestion is eat it as soon as possible and if you have too much, give it to your friends and neighbours.  You will be very popular!  It is delicious on toast or can be eaten with hard cheeses or meat, especially fatty lamb or pork, or you can add a spoonful to your gravy (or jus).  If you have a glut of apples - or can find some crab apples, which make superb jelly - you can experiment with herb jellies by adding rosemary or thyme or sage. You will find countless ideas and recipes on the internet. And if you have quinces available (Japanese quinces are frequently found in October in suburban gardens - from the Chaenomeles bush) you can add these to the apples to make a beautifully perfumed jelly.
I posted a recipe for Quince Jelly a couple of years ago.


John Austin

Hove October 2017

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