Jelly roll

Not the fabric kind, just for a change!

On Wednesday, I picked over and halved 2 kilos (nearly 4½ pounds) of cumquats, covered them with water, and simmered them for 2 hours till tender. I then put them in a muslin cloth, first in a colander over a bowl, and then tied into a bag, hanging over the bowl, for the juice to drip out. I didn’t get a whole lot, as these cumquats are tiny and not very juicy, but what there was had a powerful zing and perfume.

Thursday morning I weighed the juice and did the pectin test. Plenty of pectin from the pith and pips in the fruit. Then I added an equal weight of white sugar (no need for jam sugar with extra pectin), put it in a pan and slowly brought it to the boil. I then simmered it slowly, skimming the froth that came to the surface, until the temperature reached 105°C/221°F. Then I tested for set, dropping a blob onto a saucer I’d had in the freezer. That went back into the fridge for a couple of minutes. Once it was cool, I pushed a finger through the blob. If it wrinkles and leaves a clear track, the jelly is ready. I had to give it another 5 minutes, but then it was done, and I decanted the jelly with a ladle and wide-neck preserving funnel into two hot, sterilised jars and quickly screwed on the lids. After about 15 minutes, the ‘button’ on the lids sucked down, and I knew I had a good vacuum.

And that was it. From 2kg/4½ pounds fruit and about 700g/25 ounces sugar I got 800g/28 ounces jelly, one full 500g jar and one three quarters full.

It’s not a large return on the investment of time, but the jelly is delicious, beautifully set, and the fruit was free, so I’ll probably do it again some time.

Many thanks to Elizabeth for her friend Elgar’s recipe, which was simple and very clear.

I only have about 300g fruit left – I had to pick out ones which were squishy or going mouldy. I’m tempted to get a bottle of vodka and steep the remaining fruit in it. It worked a treat with the limoncello I made a few months ago, and the flavour will be very different.

Cumquat jelly on hot toast this morning for breakfast. Yummmmmm!

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