Simply Relish’ Wild Apple Jelly With Chillies & Lemongrass

I have known Ann Busby for some years now, as a fellow member of the BBC Food chat board and more recently, the Wildfood forums.

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 kg mixed apples
  • white granulated sugar (see the recipe method for quantity)
  • 2 red chillies , deseeded and minced - or more if you like it hot!
  • 2 stalks lemongrass , finely diced; 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.

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!
24 Comments to "Simply Relish’ Wild Apple Jelly With Chillies & Lemongrass"

  1. Debs @ DKC

    Great post and well done on the business Ann. Kavey, I guess you mean entries to be in before 15th November, not October!

  2. Heavenly Housewife

    This year I've had so many apples, i still have loads, I don't know how to use them all up. I love this idea of preserving food in jars, but I'm afraid mine will go all mouldy because i don't really know the proper way to can stuff and don't have any special canning equipment.
    HOpe you are having a wonderful weekend.
    *kisses* HH

  3. Kavey

    Debs, well spotted, thanks, I've corrected it!

    HH, preserving is straight forward. All you need to do is sterilise the jars before filling them. I do mine as follows:
    About 40-45 minutes before my preserve will be ready, I put the empty jars into a cold oven and set the temperature to about 150. I want them to be in there for a good half an hour at the desired temperature hence leaving them in for longer so they can heat up slowly as the oven heats up. In the meantime, I boil the lids in a pan on the stove top and lay them out to dry on a clean tea towel. I don't hand dry them as I don't want lint from the towel on them, so I let them dry on their own.
    When the jam is ready, I fill it into the hot jars out of the oven so both jars and jam are hot hot hot. I get the lids on as soon as I can touch them, using oven gloves, so usually within 2 minutes.
    Leave them to cool. Voila!

  4. BeccaRothwell

    Remember yesterday when I said I had all those apples to use up…

    Unfortunately I don't yet have a preserving pan (shocking I know but I keep forgetting to buy one!) and the largest pan I have although just about okay for chutney making would likely result in some very burnt jam/jelly (it has a base like tin foil!).

    On the off chance that I get a similar collection of apples next week though, and because this “oh no I don't have a jam pan” situation keeps happening I'm buying one right now!

    I'm assuming though this is okay to make with any ordinary mixed apples, even if you don't have any crab apples to hand? It's a shame because my parents have a crab apple tree in their front garden and the fruit just goes to waste every year. I was even told when I was little it wasn't the sort of apple you could eat/cook with! May have to send this post on to my mum too.

    Thanks Ann (and to Kavey for hosting!)

    P.S. Sod buying muslin I am SO straining everything through clean old stockings now!

  5. Piccalilli Annie

    Becca, yes, you can make this with any ordinary mixed apples – they have the most pectin at this time of year, too. Those crab apples will be turned into jelly next year, I'm sure!

    Yes, I have bottles of 'Great taste award winning' Sweet Chilli sauce (2008)and Hot Sweet 'n sour sauce (2010) to give away to the winner of Kavey's competition, so put your thinking caps on and enter now!

    Thank you Kavey!

  6. Sue Brewer

    My Mum used to tie a muslin cloth the legs of an upturned chair and strain into a large bowl and she did this with every home grown fruit you can imagine!!
    I love all of Anne's chutneys and jams, on puppadoms; wraps; cold meats or hot indian / chinese snacks, yummy
    May order a couple of hampers as christmas presents this year.
    thank you Anne xx

  7. Dom at Belleau Kitchen

    oh god K, this looks so up my street, the combinations are so perfect for each other… and i'm growing my own lemongrass, so this is perfect! thanks for the inspiration x

  8. Suelle

    Lovely post, Ann.

    Assuming the sauces are relishes rather than cooking ingredients, I would serve the sweet and sour sauce with cold roast pork, a baked potato with sour cream and some coleslaw – I think it would be good with pork and also perk up a baked potato with no butter (damn that diet!).

    I'd try the sweet chilli sauce with a salmon fillet and bubble and squeak potato cakes – another combination that sometimes needs the flavour perking up a bit.


  9. LexEat!

    What a lovely success story!
    The wild apple with lemongrass and chilli sounds gorgeous! If I had a jar I suspect I'd be so impatient to try it I'd just dig straight in with my spoon!

  10. WWordsworth

    I would serve the sweet & sour with grilled tiger prawns, and the chilli sauce would go down a bundle with baked farmhouse sausages.

  11. Mamta

    I love apple and chilli jam. It is delicious on a freshlly toasted slice of bread, with a hot cup of black tea, delicious. It is also nice in a peanut butter sandwich (I know it is wierd, but don't knock it until you try it. I guess it will be good with rost poultry too?
    Well done SloeGin
    Mamta (Kavey's mum)

  12. Kavey

    So glad people are as excited about Ann's recipe as I am… pass the word about the competition too! x

  13. Anonymous

    Having already had the pleasure of tasting Ann's sauces I have to say I would love to try the sweet and sour sauce with some oven roasted salmon on a bed of noodles with spring onions, mushrooms & peppers. The sweet chilli I would use to marinate some tofu cubes which I would then incorporate into a stir fry with beansprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and coconut with lots of fresh coriander.

    Ooh, my mouth is watering typing this out!

  14. Lisa

    Ooooh so pretty! I am currently in the process of convincing hubby that it was a GREAT idea of his that we should put a hook in the ceiling above the sink so that I can hang things off it. Like, oh you know, clean stockings full of jelly…

  15. tinyTrishkins

    They both sound devine. The apple and lemongrass would go nicely with Pork, either hot or cold.

    Sweet & Sour chilli in our house would go with anything…also tempura battered prawns.

  16. Choclette

    Mmmmmm. I made some apple jelly with chilli in – it's great, but now I'm rather wishing I added some lemon grass, or at least some lemon balm as I've got tons of that!

  17. Anonymous

    This sounds just lovely, will be trying to make some if I can beg some crab apples off my neighbours tree, I will bribe her with a promise of a jar or two of the finished product.

    I would try it in a home baked roll with either roast gammon cut thick or cold roast chicken or left over roast game.

  18. BeccaRothwell

    Simply Relish Sizzling Sweet Chilli Sauce sounds like it would go wonderfully with some sweetcorn fritters so that's what I'd probably have it with at least!

  19. Alison

    I would try the apple and lemongrass with a roast gammon joint (and also sandwiches with the left overs! ) It sounds lovely

  20. Anonymous

    I have a jelly bag of apples hanging in the kitchen right now ! Looking forward to tasting it tomorrow.Hope I can keep some for Christmas to serve with the duck and at the buffet with the cold meats and cheese.Would also be nice with p^ate.

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