Walking by the hedgerows picking juicy red rosehips, which shine like jewels on spiky branches, is one of my favourite ways of enjoying a lovely autumnal afternoon.
Rosehips have an abundance of vitamin C but they are low in pectin, so apples are added to help the jelly to set. Any apples can be used; crab apples are ideal, but any small windfall apples can be used instead if you prefer.
900 g (2 lb) apples
450 g (1 lb) rosehips
500 g (1 lb) sugar (see step 7)
1 lemon, juice only
½ tsp butter, optional
1. Quarter the apples and cut out any bruised or rotten parts, but there is no need to peel them or to remove the cores or stalks.
2. Place the quartered apples in a saucepan and cover with plenty of water.
3. Bring to the boil and cook until soft, about ten minutes but the time depends on the variety.
4. Meanwhile chop the rosehips in half with a knife or put them in a food processor and give them a few whizzes.
5. When the apples are soft, add the rosehips and simmer for another ten minutes.
6. Filter the contents using a jelly bag or a muslin cloth. Leave the juice to drain overnight.
7. Weigh the juice and add the same quantity of sugar, usually about 500 g (1 lb), and the juice of 1 lemon.
8. Pop 3 or 4 saucers into a freezer.
9. Pour the mixture into a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
10. Boil rapidly for 5-10 minutes, until the jelly coats the back of a wooden spoon. Check that the jelly will set by doing a saucer test:
• remove the pan from the heat,
• take one of the saucers from the freezer and pour half a teaspoon of the jelly on to it,
• wait one minute and then stand the saucer on its side,
• the jelly is ready if it only runs slowly down the saucer and it wrinkles slightly when pushed with a finger.
If is ready, return the pan to the heat for one minute and then repeat the test. (Take care not to boil for too long because apples are high in pectin, so the jelly can end up overset. If in doubt, it is better for the jelly to be slightly underset rather than overset.)
11. When the jelly is ready, remove any scum with a spoon, pour the jelly into sterilized jars (Sterilize the jars and their lids by washing and placing in a warm oven for ten minutes) and store in a cool dark place until required. If the scum is difficult to remove, stir in half a teaspoon of butter to help to disperse the scum.
Recipe published courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.