Japonica Jelly

Japonica is not available in shops and markets but this unusual jelly is delightful to make if the shrub grows in your garden. The yield given is approximate as it depends on the ripeness of the fruit and the amount of juice extracted.

3 lb. japonica fruit

1 lb. tart cooking apples or windfalls

4 pints water juice of 1 lemon sugar

Cut the fruit in quarters and place in a large preserving pan or saucepan. Add the water and lemon juice.

Set the pan over moderate heat. Slowly bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, or until the fruit is quite tender. Mash the fruit occasionally against the sides of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Scald a jelly bag or large square of cheesecloth by pouring boiling water through it.

Hang the jelly bag or cheesecloth on a frame or tie the ends to the legs of an up-turned chair or stool, and place a large bowl underneath.

Pour the japonica and apple pulp into the bag or cloth. Allow the juice to strain for at least 12 hours. When the juice has completely strained through the jelly bag or cheesecloth, measure the juice and return it to the pan. Discard the pulp.

Add 1 pound of sugar to every pint of juice. Stir to dissolve the sugar over low heat. When the sugar has completely dissolved, increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to the boil. Boil briskly, without stirring, for about 10 minutes, or until the jelly has reached setting point.

Remove the pan from the heat. Test for setting point by spooning a little of the jelly on to a cold saucer. If the surface sets and wrinkles when pushed with your finger, it is ready. With a metal spoon skim the scum off the surface of the jelly.

Ladle the jelly into hot, clean, dry jars.

Press a circle of waxed paper on to the surface of the jelly. Wipe the jars with a damp cloth. Cover them with polythene covers and secure with rubber bands. Label the jars and store them in a cool, dark, dry place.