I’ve been pretty productive on the jam & jelly front this year… there’s something so comforting about the simple combination of fruit & sugar bubbling in a cauldron-like way on the stove, steam rising with its fleeting, flickering memories of summer.

Jelly making is simple and has two main steps: firstly, roughly chop (don’t peel or core) your apples/fruits and boil with enough water to cover them for around half an hour, until soft and then strain through a muslin/clean j-cloth overnight, keeping all the liquid that comes out*. Secondly, with your fruit juice-water, add about 650g sugar per 1l and boil until at setting temperature (104 degrees) or until a drop on a cold plate starts to set within a minute or so.

During thisΒ particular batch my mind was elsewhere, probably dreaming of warmer days again, and I haphazardly added the sugar with the apples in the first step. Then, worried that some sugar would have been lost in the muslin bag & mushy leftovers, I added some more when I boiled it, hoping that it would set. It appears to have… albeit in a slightly more random texture than usual. And as you can see, it has been a popular treat in the spreads cupboard this year already!

*Tip: Do not squeeze the bag to get juice out, let it drip naturally – otherwise you end up with cloudy jelly.

crab apples


Behold the apples’ rounded worlds:
juice-green of July rain,
the black polestar of flowers, the rind
mapped with its crimson stain.

The russet, crab and cottage red
burn to the sun’s hot brass,
then drop like sweat from every branch
and bubble in the grass.

They lie as wanton as they fall,
and where they fall and break,
the stallion clamps his crunching jaws,
the starling stabs his beak.

In each plump gourd the cidery bite
of boys’ teeth tears the skin;
the waltzing wasp consumes his share,
the bent worm enters in.

I, with as easy hunger, take
entire my season’s dole;
welcome the ripe, the sweet, the sour,
the hollow and the whole.

Laurie Lee


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