A few weeks ago, Alexandra Stratou who is a great cook (and the author of Cooking to Share), passed by our office to deliver a jar of Apple and Thyme jelly, a gift that she made with Daphnis and Chloe in mind. I secretly devoured half of it at home with aged goat cheese and toast. I served the other half to a luncheon, where everyone loved it. Here’s the recipe & some notes from its author:
“I was lucky to have wild apples brought to me from the Peloponnese and entire dried thyme flowers to create an apple jelly that can not only be used as a jam on toast with butter – but also to accompany cheeses at the end of a meal or roast pork fillet with mustards. This jelly has the tartness and freshness of the apples, and the aroma and earthiness of the thyme. I am usually not so boastful of my creations but this really came out delicious!
I believe that recipes don’t ultimately have one owner – each cook given the same recipe will yield quite a different result. I also believe in well-written recipes that allow for the individuality of the cook to shine through without allowing too large a margin of error.”
*This recipe is an adaptation from the River Cottage Handbook No. 2 | Preserves by Pam Corbin. *
3kg aromatic and tart apples such as Fuji,
washed and quartered (bad parts removed)
7 tbsp thyme flowers
Unrefined white sugar
200ml apple cider vinegar
1 large stock pot
Muslin cloth or thin cotton tea towel, scalded in boiling water
2 large bowls
5-6 225g sterilized jars and lids
Sterilize by washing well with hot soapy water
and then drying in a low oven (60°C)
Place the apples in a stockpot along with 4 tablespoons of thyme flowers. Fill the pot with enough water to barely cover the apples. Bring to the boil uncovered then simmer gently, covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the fruit is really soft. Allow to cool on the stove.
In the meantime prepare for the process of extracting all the clear liquid and flavor from the boiled fruits. Take two large bowls line them both with a piece of muslin or fine cotton tea towel and find a place in your kitchen from where you will be able to suspend the piece of cloth over the bowl once it is filled with the cooked fruit (I used an ikea hook that I hooked onto a kitchen cupboard).
Tip the contents of the pot into the two pieces of muslin or tea towel, bring all the edges together and tie with a piece of string strong enough to hold the weight of the contents without breaking. Suspend it over the bowl and leave to drip for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Do not squeeze the contents of the bag as this will make your jelly cloudy!
Measure the strained juice and weigh out 400g of sugar for every 600ml of liquid. Return the juice to the cleaned out pan with the cider vinegar and bring to a boil with the heat on high. Once boiling add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Boil rapidly for 25 minutes then lower the temperature to medium high for another 10-15 minutes. While boiling, place a half filled bowl of water to the side of your pot and with a slotted spoon skim to remove the white froth that rises to the top, wash the scum away by submerging the slotted spoon in the water.
To test for readiness – place 3-4 tea plates into the fridge. After the first 25 minutes drop a teaspoon of the jelly onto the cold tea plate and allow it to cool in the fridge for a few minutes. Push it with your fingertip – and if it crinkles it is ready. If not, keep boiling gently and test again 5-10 minutes later. Repeat this test until the jelly crinkles, at which point remove the pot from the heat and fill the sterilized jars to the very top with jelly. Add ½ tablespoon of thyme flowers to each jar and seal closed.
Let them cool, label with a name and date, store some in a cool pantry, give some away as gifts and open one to enjoy with some good goat’s cheese.
You can find out more about Alexandra (or order her lovely book) HERE.