Last year was the first time I’ve ever made preserves. My favourite was a batch of Rowan Berry Jelly, even though I only managed to collect enough rowan berries to make two and a half small jars. I’d not even realised you could use rowan berries for anything, so by the time I got round to collecting what was left from the tree in the front garden, there weren’t many left. I wasn’t about to let the same thing happen this year, so I kept a careful eye on them and even managed to find a rowan tree near Baits Bite Lock, just outside Milton, where I could get an extra few in needed.
As the crab apples weren’t ready at the same time as the rowan berries this year, I stashed a kilo of them in my mother-in-law’s deep freeze. The crab apples on the tree in the back garden took their time to ripen, but when they did, it was time to crack on a get some jelly made. This was to be my last batch of the season, I’d made some elderberry jelly and some bramble jelly in the week or so before, with varying levels of success, so knew exactly what to look for when it came to ensuring it had reached setting point.
I decided to check on the reliability of our sugar thermometer with the digital thermometer I use for homebrewing, it seems accurate enough, which is good to know. Once I’d managed to get the temperature up to setting point, I started checking it with the crinkle test. Using the knowledge I’d gained from the bramble jelly, I knew it was ready the moment I saw the merest hint of a crinkle next to my finger. The bottling went fine this time, as I used a chopping board to hold the hot jars, rather than the flimsy place mat thing.
I’m really pleased with this batch, I got plenty of jars and while I think it could be slightly clearer, it’s much clearer than last years batch was. It’s also a lot less like wallpaper paste than last years batch too, which is solely down to my new knowledge about the crinkle test and thus not over boiling it. The thing I’m most happy with though, is the colour, is so vibrant and punchy, I keep holding jars up to the light just so I can look at it. I’m really looking forward to eating my way through this batch over the winter…