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Fruit fall
14 October 2013


The  person  with a pair of steps,  green bag and dog on lead is me going on  a crab apple forage.   We`re based under a laden tree which spills over the front garden round the corner at Macolm`s  house, who`s also a fellow location owner. "Help your self` he  generously replies to my text.  So I am. Gratefully. The tree is dropping its fruit fast and dozens of decaying  pink and yellow crabs decorate the pavement .

 I perch on the steps under the fullest and most accessible branches and shake the fruit into the mesh bag. A man approaches and tells me that he knows where wild horseradish root is growing on a patch  near a certain local bus top. Would he like me to get some? How`s that for a chat up line?  But isn`t   it great to know that we have our very urban harvest literally on the doorstep? It seems a waste when you see so many  streets round here with damsons, pears and apples , blackberries that go unpicked. Have a  look at this  website which  has been organising  urban fruit forays in the US for some time






Soon the fruit is bubbling  away merrily  in the big metal pan on top of the stove. I am deep in screen hopping when I smell toffee apple. I race downstairs to find  the fruit has burnt and stuck to the bottom .  Bang goes any chance of the jelly looking pink and translucent .  I think of the effort harvesting  my crop and decide it`s not worth throwing it away.  It will be a darker more mature kind of crab apple jelly I reason.





I make a jelly bag from a piece of muslin , pile in the cooked fruit and hang in the cellar to drip  over a basin for a couple of days  This is longer than necessary but when there is a lorry load of furniture and pots of paint for spring 2014  in your kitchen  it would be unwise to add to the chaos.

After the shoot departs I boil up the juice with sugar, and wait for the magical moment when it sets all wrinkly on the ice cold saucer I`ve prepared in the freeze box. Whether this fruit was lower than usual in pectin, the setting agent, it takes the length of the Archers` Omnibus before it`s  set.   Jelly that flows rather than plops on to the  plate is not an  ideal option.

All done, all boiling hot and poured into jars. The taste is not as  floral and crab appley  it should be, but rather  more rich and apple puddingy.  No matter, it is delicious, and I have a second jelly chance, with the dentist`s quinces. (Yes, a little quince forage in between gum cleaning) Just heard Diana Henry    making quince jelly with star anise  on Woman`s hour anise which sounds good.  Might try that, or I was thinking of experimenting with quince and mint.  Will see when I get there as I have mint in the garden, just, and there`s a bag of star anise in the larder.




Tags: crabapple jelly, autumn,


 
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