Apple Jelly

Ingredients:

1kg Apples (quartered)

1kg Sugar

100ml Apple Juice

100ml Lemon Juice

Method:

Quarter your apples and place in a thick bottomed pan, stalks, pips and all. Add the apple and lemon juice and stir. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. The contents should cook down over the next 15 minutes. Use the pan lid to retain heat and leave a few minutes then go back and mix every now and again.

Once the contents are soft, use a hand held blender and completely liquidise to a thick liquid. You are ready to get Jammin’.

Now, here we have a bit of a quandary! I could go ‘old school’ and place my pulp in my muslin bag and start pummelling like crazy and 2 hours later, just give up and throw the remaining pulp that hasn’t released its juice and go tend to my blisters!!!

Or I could get a sieve and spend 10 minutes passing the pulp through the sieve, removing the stalks, pips and skin! You decide which option you would like to go with.

Given my experience of juicing apples, I took the second option. The jelly will have a slight pith to it, but the results are fairly indistinguishable either way! Well worth it.

Clean your pan and begin to heat your apple pulp. Add the sugar and stir. Once dissolved, heat to a rolling boil and stir occasionally. You could skim the top to remove any scum, but most of this scum is in fact small bubbles. I would leave the skimming to the end.

This jelly will only take 10 minutes to reach jelling point – it’s so full of pectin, you can’t imagine. So, 10 minutes in you’re there. Stir occasionally of course. You will find the jam falling from your wooden spoon in a lumpy looking way. It wants to gel. Do a final skim and you’re there!

Having sterilised your 6 jam jars in the dishwasher, use your jam funnel and ladle to fill to the 7mm – 10mm below the lid, seal tightly and sterilise the jars in your water bath with the pan lid placed on firmly.

Note: you need to see the liquid looking a bit lumpy on the Jam funnel or base of the pan.

A Second Offering For The Tooth Fairy

Saturday morning and Tara is a whole pound better off. Late last night, the second incisor popped out. Shouts from the top floor lead to daddy being given the extruded tooth and Tara has a shiny new one pound coin in her breakfast place. Looks like her big tooth is pushing upwards fast.

Post waffles and syrup, they are now playing hard. As much laughter as screams, so they’re fine.

Thor is obsessing about sellotape once more. The recycle bag has been pillaged of its mass of cardboard yet again!

Off to conclude my experiment on the perfect apple jelly, hopefully without the need for muslin to extrude the juice! Who wants to do something like pass juice through a Muslim bag when it takes absolutely ages. I’m all for working out a few thrifty short cuts.

Thank You Dear Ash (a poem)

It’s alway such fun

And when the night is done

I remember you, a very special one

So, thank you dear Ash

When you went home to crash

The night gone in a flash

Here’s to you dear friend

Though it came to an end

What a great bash

I thank you dear Ash

We thought about Sarah

Back in the day a real terror

She couldn’t come, she had flue

Boo hoo, boo hoo

Sending hugs to Sarah

Ash and me too

A Sleepless Night

Well, the title says it all really, doesn’t it? It all started after the children’s bedtime. Our nanny Sindy had gone home for the day and John had arrived home at his usual time. The lamb curry was heating through on the Aga and samosas were in the deep fat fryer. There were some screams from upstairs and then silence. I finished off heating the rice in the microwave and retrieved the samosas! At that point there were shouts from both Tara and Amritsar as they entered, firstly the kitchen and then on to the living room where they jumped on daddy’s lap. They were chat, chat, chat, clearly with no plans to return upstairs. I brought in the two fragrant dishes of curry and sat at the table. We negotiated a bit and finally the girls returned to their room. Once dinner had been enjoyed, the girls came back downstairs, this time with Caleb in tow. It took some time to broker their second return upstairs as all Caleb wanted was to sit on daddy’s lap. Finally they all went up to bed. The time was now 10pm.

A while later all five came downstairs. I kept reminding them that it was a school night, but they just didn’t listen. Daddy was slightly beginning to loose his rag, as was I come 11pm. They all finally ascended the stairs.

We ourselves went up to bed at midnight.

It was 2am and in our slumber, we were jolted awake with the not so famous five invading our bedroom. 10 minutes later I got up stating that ‘enough is enough’ and went downstairs and hauled up with Remus and Gracie…

It was 4.45am when Amritsar flung the living room door open!

I didn’t really see any decent sleep last night. Getting them ready for school was a nightmare in the absence of Sindy every second Thursday morning. Thor was a complete menace – I even had to call Mrs Snodgrass at one point. But they got to school on time.

I am presently sat on a train, visiting A friend in Bristol for the night!

Maybe an update on that tomorrow as I will have plenty of time on the return train to mull things over.

This is Andi Webb nodding off, sorry signing off…

A Few Random Things

Yesterday saw our first major frost of the season, here in ‘The Shires’. Autumn has certainly wielded its grip. With Christmas but five weeks away, the summer and All of that wonderful sunshine both seem a million miles away now.

This morning has seen me dead heading the hydrangea on the terrace and our two rather overgrown wisteria have had a major pruning and tidy up. The removal of the remaining foliage strikes a very Wintery feel to the vista.

Aaliyah is still enjoying her gymnastics classes on a Monday, plus Tara also scored the only goal at her football class. She seems to be their most prolific scorer – well done Tara. Both Amritsar and Tara go to tennis lessons on a Tuesday. Which is great as our neighbours have a tennis court. Our two boys Thor and Caleb have not as yet shown interest in after school activities, but I think that they will be ready to make the right choices next year! That should be interesting!

Excluding the garden, what have I been up to? Cooking mostly I guess. Well, that and making home made chocolates and pastilles to give away at Dadda’s Jam stall on 1st December at the little ones old preschool Christmas fair. Big School is not holding one this year. Problems with the PTFA I think. No one was really available to set up a grotto and manage the event this year. It seems a real shame.

Okay, a lamb curry with rice and mutter (pea curry) on the menu for tonight, served with homemade samosas. I’m quite looking forward to that. Hmmmh – I do miss cooking a big meal for the children, but with them all enjoying a main meal at lunchtimes at school, barr the weekends and holidays, it’s sadly a thing of the past!

I think that I will look into making a couple more podcasts this afternoon. Any feedback on that score would be greatly appreciated. Well, thats all for now!

A Failed Experiment

If something doesn’t work out, like an experiment, is it truly a failure?

On the Jammin’ front, this week, I thought that I would try something new! Now, you know that pectin from apples is at the heart and the purity of ‘Dadda’s Jam’, so I thought that I would see how much pectin was in ‘pressed apple juice’! Worth investigating I thought! Pectin is one of those things that is really quite difficult to quantify. Well, this was my experiment, simple but rewarding in information. One litre of pressed, cloudy apple juice, store purchased, lemon juice and one kilogram of sugar. I also had 300 grams of apple pulp to add if things didn’t work out!

I have kind of worked out that as much moisture should be removed from fruit pulp as possible, or if this is not possible, the ratio of apple pulp should be higher in order to produce a well set jam! I hope that this makes sense? I also stated earlier that experiments are key to moving forward in the art of preserves. Old fashioned jam making insisted on long cooking times, producing in my mind, over cooked, Jammy tasting results. Twenty minutes is a perfectly safe cooking time to produce fresh tasting results. Also, do remember that lemon juice is key in all jam making. It supplies extra pectin for your Jams even though it is a liquid ingredient.

Okay the experiment! I boiled the litre of juice with the kilo of sugar and 50ml of lemon juice for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally and skimming the top every now and then for foam and any impurities. The cloudy colour of the juice becomes a golden amber. The outcome was a lovely tasting apple syrup, disappointing maybe, so my plan b was to add the 300 grams of apple pulp. I cooked for a further fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally and finally I strained the liquid, removing the pulp for use in another aspiration, fruit pastilles. The apple jelly showed some sign of gelling, but I was still in two minds, so I poured it into a stainless steel bowl and refrigerated it overnight. The next day I noted that there was a very soft set. My experiment had been a failure. And failure is fine – it’s the learning curve on the way to finding perfection, isn’t it?

Due to the fact that I am out of jam jars, this experiment is now in a freezer bag and sat in the freezer. Part two of this story to follow soon.