Sloe Jelly

Although sloes are not available in shops and markets, they are well worth collecting if you come across them in their wild state. The yield for this delicious jelly is approximate as it depends on the ripeness of the fruit and the amount of juice extracted.

2 lb. sloes, trimmed and washed

Clear and sparkling Sloe Jelly is economical to make because the sloes may be gathered wild. It is delicious with fresh bread and butter.

1 lb. cooking apples, cut into quarters juice of

1 lemon sugar

Using a large needle, prick the sloes all over and place them, with the apples, in a large saucepan. Add enough cold water just to cover the fruit and add the lemon juice.

Set the pan over moderate heat. Bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until the fruit is tender. Mash the fruit occasionally against the side of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon.

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

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

Pour the sloe and apple pulp into the bag or cloth. Allow the juice to strain through for at least 12 hours or overnight.

Do not squeeze the bag or cloth or the jelly will become cloudy. When the juice has dripped through the bag or cloth, measure the juice and return it to the pan. Discard the pulp.

Add 1 pound of sugar to every 1 pint of juice. Set the pan over low heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar has 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.

To test for setting point, remove the pan from the heat and spoon a small amount of the jelly on to a cold saucer. If the surface of the jelly sets and wrinkles when pushed with your finger, it is ready. If the jelly is not ready, return the pan to the heat and continue boiling, testing every few minutes. Using a metal spoon, skim off any scum from the surface of the jelly.

Ladle the jelly into hot, clean, dry jars. Press a circle of greaseproof or waxed paper on to the surface of the jelly.

Wipe the jars clean with a damp cloth. Cover them with jam covers and secure with rubber bands. Label the jars and store them in a cool, dark, dry place.