As a purveyor of local markets, I’ve come expect that some markets are far superior to others. Some have plenty of local produce and are truly special. Too many, however, are filled with trend followers. My beloved borough market often falls victim to this, as many stands take over with the latest trend (cheese, charcuterie, argentine steaks, cronuts etc). Outside of London, every market (and I mean EVERY market) will have at least one or two stands selling their own ‘unique’ jam or chutney.
Here’s the reality, they are all pretty similar. Only once in the UK did I ever come across a chutney I viewed as ‘unique’ and it was actually from a local chili farm (Edible Ornamentals in Bedfordshire) which I have now purchased multiple tongue spinning jars.
In one of my favorite areas of Nova Scotia, the Valley, is one of my favorite little shops – Tangled Gardens. For years my family has relied on them for a rotating selection of jams and jellies to match our food. They have a gorgeous herb garden, and really take their ethos of food and art to heart. Every bottle looks like a work of art.
Being in the UK, I can’t always get my fix or jams or jellies, so I had to make my own. After experimentations I finally came up with Apple Pepper Herb Jelly. Now, Tangled Gardens does make a pepper herb jelly, which I must admit is better than mine. Although I chalk this up to the produce of the valley. This does require attention, so you monitor the liquid reduction and adjust your sugar etc.
After it’s created you need to let it rest in sealed jars for a day+ to let the jelly come together. The use of fresh herbs make this jelly both visually stunning, but also a great flavour. It goes well with oat scones and cheddar, but equally good as a glaze on chicken and with soft/cream cheese on a bagel. Plus it looks lovely in the sunlight!
- 2 KG of apples of your choice
- Juice of one lemon
- 5 L of water
- 2 KG of sugar
- 3 chillies chopped with most seeds removed to taste
- 1 cup of lightly packed cilantro and parsley chopped including stems.
- (Recipe adapted from the Good Food Channel) Roughly chop the apples and place into a LARGE pot.
- Add the lemon juice and cover the contents with water. Bring this to the boil and then reduce the heat so the whole mixture simmers for just shy of two hours. The apples will look puffy, but avoid the temptation to stir this mixture. Doing so will only make your final product cloudy.
- You need to strain the mixture, I use a jelly bag but muslin (with a sieve) will work too. Ensure this is sterilized by scalding it in boiling water. Suspend this strainer above a large bowl, capable of holding all the liquid. Slowly pour the contents of your pot into the strainer, again don’t squeeze or push the pulp. This will take awhile, probably all day or night.
- When the liquid is done, measure the final liquid. For each 600ml, you will be adding 450g of sugar. You will also need your chopped herbs and chili. Add these to your liquid and place in a pan. Place several small plates into the freezer.
- Slowly warm up the liquid until sugar dissolves, then boil. Depending on how the liquid looks, I occasionally use this opportunity to add a prepared gelatin sheet or pectin, but it is not always needed. Either way, boiling the liquid for 10-30min will help you achieve a jelly like consistency. To test this, you use you those frozen plates. Take a small spoon of liquid and place onto the frozen plate. If it starts to solidify, then you have reached the proper state. This is because the jelly will thicken when cooled.
- When finished, you need to skim off the foam that has risen to the top of the liquid. This then needs to be portioned out into sterilized jars (see some tips for that here). Just before you place the lid, give the mixture a stir to distribute the chili and herb pieces. Let lidded jars rest for at least a day if not more to have the jelly set.