I’ve got bored of waiting for Summer to arrive. Personally I much prefer Autumn anyway. In Summer you get pissed off when it’s not sunny. Whereas in Autumn if the sun’s out your happy and if it’s not then it means the mushrooms are busy proliferating!
Our orchard is laden with fruit. Bright red crab-apples. Gnarly green pears with brown spots. Lobster coloured apples. Deep purple plums. And one singular mulberry!
Mum’s Apache Chillies are doing well too. They are the Joey Barton of the chilli world. You know from the moment you set eyes on them that they will cause trouble, yet you give them an ill fated second chance.
My Grandfather was at home this weekend – so it gave me great pleasure to go foraging together. He very carefully picked the crab-apples – gently placing them in the bucket to avoid damaging their crimson skin. Meanwhile I was up a ladder stripping them off and lobbing them into the bucket below! I am guessing I may be the culprit for all the bruised skin and not him!
I vaguely followed a recipe from The Cottage Smallholder. I topped and tailed 1.5 kilos of crab-apples before throwing them in my Grandmother’s old jam sauce pan which is big enough to have a bath in! I poured in enough water to make them float and then went to work on the chillies. I cut up around 150 grams of a variety of chillies including, Pinocchio’s Nose, Prairie Fire, Jalepenos from the office and Mum’s Apaches. On contact with the now rather hot water the acrid fumes hit me in the face and almost stopped me from breathing! At this point I was worried that I was in the process of making the world’s hottest and least edible jelly!
As the pot bubbled the fruit yielded and became tender and the juice took on a heat that made a vindaloo seem mild. I strained the mixture through a series of tea towels before Mum emerged and handed me her jamming sieve! I put the solid back in the pan and added more water to get a second batch.
After a lot of straining and many hours later I was the proud owner of some very spicy pink, sour liquid. All 2 litres went into the pan and was accompanied by 2 kilos of granulated sugar which dissolved very quickly. 20 minutes of aggressive boiling and plenty of scum skimming later and our thermometer said we had jam!
I very carefully poured my liquid jelly into 10 sterilised jars and quickly sealed the lids. By the time I had finished pouring the left over liquid that had cooled in the pan had become wibbly wobbly jelly! Success!
Since making it on Saturday I have eaten some with every meal since! It was great with chicken chasseur followed by cheese and biscuits, awesome on toast for breakfast and magnificent with roast lamb for Sunday lunch! The heat from the chilli has become far more subtle, mellowing with the addition of sugar, but you still know it’s there.
We still love to go on trips around the UK, staying in BnBs or camping in search of a good meal or two - hence, Around Britain with a Paunch. Quite often the trips have been prompted by Diana Henry's Gastro Pub Cookbook. Here's where we've been to: