Rowan berries, they are everywhere I look just now (my view is somewhat limited out here in the country) which is great as there were hardly any last year when I wanted to make some rowan berry jelly.
No such problem this year, more than enough to go round. So the other day I set off round the lane armed with my big basket and a pair of snips, also had small assistant in the form of Idgy.
Berry picking is such a relaxing and enjoyable pursuit. Well it is when the berry trees are not all on the other side of the damn drainage ditches. Keen readers will know just how big our drainage ditches are when they recall how I managed successfully to wedge (and write off) my jeep in one back in February.
No dainty ditches round here, oh no, ours are big and deep and muddy. Picture the scene if you will. Idgy leaps over the ditch and snips at the berries with gay abandon. And before you get carried away, no she is not wearing an outfit somewhat reminiscent of the 'Sound of Music', dirndl skirt and natty headscarf cunningly run up from the curtains. Get real, we may be out in the sticks, but my gal is trendy – jeans and trainers all the way. Moi? Well of course I am in full berry picking regalia of ball gown, tiara, slingbacks and feather boa.
With Idgy jumping the ditches and me grabbing overhanging branches, we soon have a basket-full of gorgeous red goodness. But berry picking is an addictive sport, just as you think you are finished and ready to drop the snips and call it a day, you will see yet another tree, this one laden with berries far bigger and redder than those you already have. You must have 'just a few more'. Okay, okay I did want those few more, and I was determined to get them. 'No, no I'll do it, I'll get them' I insist to my helper. She turns round to head back up the lane. I lurch (ain't no grace and charm here) over the ditch and start topping up the basket. This is fab, I can't stop, I keep snipping. There is a distinct sinking feeling, what the hell, carry on. BIG mistake, that sinking feeling was the bank of the drainage ditch collapsing under me. You guessed it, feet flying, back we go, scrabbling desperately to get a grip, but no, I'm over, it's done. Flat out in the mud at the bottom of the ditch with the full basket upended on top of me. Help I shriek, or words to that effect. Idgy who is up the lane a bit can't even see me as I am in the bloody ditch. She rushes back just as I emerge clutching the berries to my chest and looking like the swamp monster. Does my girl rush to the aid of her errant mother and help her out of the ditch. No, she sits down on the lane and laughs her head off. Then she leaps up and tells me no to move or I will lose all the berries that are piled around me. Next half hour spent rescuing the berries.
So here is my recipe for rowan berry jelly. So easy to make if you have managed to capture the wild and dangerous berries first…………..
I used just under 2 kilos of rowan berries (should have been full 2 kilos had the ditch not grabbed me)
1.5 kilos of cooking apples, roughly chopped with skins on
450g of granulated sugar for every 600ml of juice you get
Throw all the fruit into a huge pot and just cover with water. bring to the boil and simmer away till it is all soft and mushy, about 20 minutes.
Pour into a jelly bag (cheesecloth, muslin etc, not tea towel) and let it drip into a non metallic bowl overnight.
Measure your juice and put it back into the pot, now add 450g of sugar for every 600ml of juice that you have there.
Simmer over a low heat for about ten minutes till sugar has dissolved. Now zap up the
heat to a rolling boil for about five minutes until your setting point has been reached.
Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.
This is a really tangy jelly with a sweet and sour sort of taste. Great with meat dishes, but just perfect on hot buttered croissants too, yummy.
Was it worth being upside down in the ditch (again), you betcha!
Have a great weekend