Just over three years ago, Ann’s husband complained about the quality of piccalilli on sale in supermarkets. His comments prompted Ann to make her own, using her mum’s recipe. A box scheme starting locally at the same time and Ann asked them to sell some of the jars she’d made.
That was the start of her Simply Relish business through which she now sells home made chutneys, relishes and jams to an appreciative audience.
Her products have been recognised in the Guild of Fine Food’s Great Taste Awards for three years in a row!
Ann is keen to be as green as possible and now grows a lot of her own ingredients, composts all her peelings and sources the rest of her ingredients locally and seasonally as much as she can.
I was so pleased when she agreed to write a guest post sharing one of her fantastic recipes with Kavey Eats readers.
Scroll to the bottom to win some of Ann’s goodies for yourself!
Over to Ann:
I am an award-winning artisan chutney and relish creator and sell my produce at local farmers’ markets and farm shops. This gives me the flexibility to use seasonal and local produce to its full potential. Luckily I’m well known in the village and it’s not unusual to return home to find bags sitting on the doorstep bursting with apples, plums and pears, all of which are turned into chutneys and jellies.
I just love using our native wild apples! From sunshiny crab apples to the tiny green ones, they are all rich in pectin at this time of year and set readily into sparkling clear jellies. This one is made in the traditional way, using some contemporary ingredients.
It’s getting a little late in the season for Crab apples, so I’ve mixed the few I managed to pick (asking the land owner’s permission first) with other native apples. The colour of the jelly may not be a vibrant pink, but the taste will be sublime!
Before you start, ensure you have got enough jars, (I filled 12 x 110ml jars, using the quantity of apples below) lids and a large pan. Other useful, but not essential, equipment includes a jam thermometer, a funnel and a jelly straining bag, all available from good cook shops.
This is not a quick jelly to make – you’ll also need time and patience!
Simply Relish’ Wild Apple Jelly with Chillies and Lemongrass
1.5 kilos mixed apples
White granulated sugar (more about that later!)
2 deseeded fat red chillies, minced – or more if you like it hot!
2 stalks of finely diced lemongrass; remove the outer leaves and discard. Use only the bottom third of the remaining stalk.
- The pectin is richest in the skin and pips, so all you need to do is wash and roughly chop the apples, discarding any that are bruised or rotten. Pop them in a pan and cover them with about 1.2 litres of cold water; bring to the boil and let them simmer until they’re soft and pulpy. You can help them to break down by stirring with a wooden spoon. This stage takes up to 45 minutes.
- Now comes the most traditional part – straining them. Great Grandma would probably have done this every autumn to maximise nature’s bounty. She would have used muslin, but you can use a straining bag or even a clean stocking! The liquid needs to drip slowly into a clean receptacle; don’t be tempted to help it along by squeezing, as you’ll get a cloudy jelly. Leave it overnight, if possible, or at least 6 hours.
- Discard the dried out apple solids – you can compost these. You’ll be left with a rather dull, cloudy juice, but nature is an alchemist and, as long as you haven’t squeezed, prodded or poked the dripping apples, you can look forward to seeing the amazing change that will (trust me!) occur.
- There are a few things to do before you start the next stage. If you don’t have a jam thermometer, pop a saucer or small dish in your freezer – this will help you determine when your jelly has reached setting point. You’ll also need to wash, drain and sterilise your jars; leave them in a warm oven (approx 130 Celsius) for 20 minutes. Boil the lids in a small pan and drain thoroughly. You don’t want any water in the jars, once sealed.
- Prepare your chillies and lemongrass now. I’m used to handling chillies, but you may want to wear gloves; remember to wash your hands well afterwards! If you prefer a hot jelly, add a bird’s eye chilli or two.
- Remove the outer leaves from two stalks of lemon grass and finely dice the lower part. Put to one side.
- On with the exciting bit! You need to measure the juice and calculate how much sugar you need to add.
- I use this simple formula: to each 100ml of juice, add 80g of sugar if you want a tart jelly or 90g if you want a sweeter one. This batch yielded 965ml, so I added 870 grams of sugar.
- Put the sugar and juice into a large pan – you can use the bottom part of a pressure cooker, if you have one. Bring it to the boil – the jelly will rise and, if the pan isn’t big enough, it will boil over, so you will need to keep an eye on it.
- Using a slotted spoon, skim any scum from the mixture.
- You’ll see the juice turn from cloudy to clear and its transformation is almost complete! Water now needs to be driven from the jelly; you’ll need that patience again! While it’s still on a ‘good rolling boil’, add the chillies and lemongrass, so they cook well. Keep checking it if you have a thermometer – it should reach 105 Celsius for a good set.
- If you don’t have a jam thermometer, drop a small amount on the saucer you popped in the freezer earlier and leave it to cool a little. If it wrinkles when pushed, it’s reached its setting point. If not, keep boiling and repeat the procedure until it does.
- When you’re satisfied that it’s set, leave it for a few minutes. This cooling should ensure an even distribution of ‘solids’. Using a funnel, ladle the jelly into jars, lid and place where it won’t be disturbed until it’s cooled and set. I love to put it on the windowsill, where the light can shine through.
- Once cold, label and put in a cool place.
It goes particularly well with poultry and pork, but I also love it in a Cheshire or Wensleydale cheese sandwich. It’ll keep quite happily, unopened, for a few months. Of course, I should tell you to keep it in the fridge, once opened, but this is a traditionally made jelly – and Great Grandma didn’t have a fridge!
The jars make lovely presents, too – if you can bear to part with them! This little lot are off to market!
Doesn’t that look absolutely delicious? Thank you, Ann, for sharing your recipe and tips!
To win a jar of Ann’s Simply Relish Sizzling Sweet Chilli Sauce and one of her Simply Relish Hot Sweet and Sour Sauce, please leave a comment about what you might serve with either one, before 15th November midnight GMT. Open to UK residents only. Please leave your email contact in your comment. A winner will be drawn using a random number generator.