It’s easy to make chutneys and jams from huge gluts, say experts from Arundel Castle in west Sussex, which has this year had an amazing harvest.
Senior organic kitchen gardener Izzy McKinley and artisan jam and chutney maker Christine Hart, owner of Sussex Jams And Chutneys, are helping to make the most of the season’s best.
Why bother preserving apples at home?
For much of the year, the apples on supermarket shelves are months old, says McKinley. Often imported, they are stored in warehouses with modified atmospheres that prevent them from ripening.
Preserving them in chutneys and jams during autumn is a more traditional way of enjoying British apples throughout the year.
While Pink Lady and Jazz apples are imported, your own apples may be just as suitable. Varieties you might grow yourself, such as ‘Egremont Russet’ and ‘Bramley’, can be transformed into delicious dishes.
Choosing your apples
McKinley and Hart agree that the best all-rounder is the ‘Peasegood’s Nonsuch’, a large apple from Lincolnshire. It is a cooking apple but requires much less sugar than other cookers, says Hart.
She says: “Never be put off by cooking apples, they are excellent to work with. It’s quicker to peel and prepare a large apple, and these varieties have a wonderfully sharp flavour. You can add sugar as you like. Cooking apples still produce deliciously sweet jams.
“While chutneys and apple sauce are popular choices, I like to make apple jams and serve with scones, as an autumnal alternative to a classic cream tea.”
Apple and wild blackberry jam
- Jam thermometer
- Jam jars with lids
- 500 g apples (ideally ‘Peasegood’s Nonsuch’ or ‘Bramley’) peeled, cored and diced
- 500 g wild blackberries, or substitute for more apples
- 1 kg sugar (adjusted according to the sweetness of your apples)
- 50 ml lemon juice
- 150 ml water
- Optional – Crème de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), brandy or ground cinnamon for an indulgent twist
- Before chopping, wash the fruit carefully. Add the chopped apples, wild blackberries and water into pan and gently simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes, to soften the fruit, stirring occasionally.
- Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Add the 50ml of lemon juice.
- Turn up the heat to medium/high for 10-15 minutes and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Using a jam thermometer, wait until the temperature reaches 104.5 degrees and then test to see if setting point has been reached. At this point, you may add additional flavours, such as Crème de Cassis, brandy or cinnamon.
- To test, place a small amount of preserve onto a heatproof dish that has been chilled in a fridge. Leave to stand for five minutes and run your finger through the mixture once it is cooled. It should wrinkle if set. Taste the preserve to see if it is at your desired sweetness.
- Sterilise your jars and lids by washing in hot water, then place the jars in an oven at 120 degrees for 15 minutes. Place the lids in boiling water for five minutes, then remove and leave to dry in a warm oven.
- Pour the preserve mixture into the hot, dry jars and fill to almost the top, leaving a small gap, and immediately seal the lid tightly onto the jars. Finally, label and store your jars for up to one year.