Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tigress Can Jam - The Light of Scarborough Fair Jelly

This is the most unusual thing I've preserved, and my very first success with a true jelly, made with only the inherent pectin in the apples.

I didn't grow up eating mint jelly with lamb, or in fact any sweet with meat save "Chinese sweet-and-sour". My mother did make stuffed cabbage, filled with chopped meat, and baked in a tomato sauce sprinkled with raisins, but as a child I had a great fear of turgid raisins, and indeed I still do...

As an adult, I love the combination of meat with fruit in medieval foods, come down to us in these times as the vestigial "meat" in mincemeat, which I liked very much the memorable time I was served some at a New England holiday dinner. But to return to the herbal jelly...

The process here was rather lengthy: boil the apples with some herbs, then strain out the flavorful juice. I strained the juice twice: once when finished cooking the apple herb mixture, and again after the cloudy juice had cooled overnight, and that worked well to give a completely transparent result.

The herbs I used were all from my own yard, and I didn't use quite as much as the original recipe called for. The resulting jelly is quite lovely to look at, a clear pinky golden, with flecks of herbs suspended. It tastes just as you'd expect, sweet and herbal and slightly tangy. It was very good with the roasted chicken legs yesterday suppertime, I'm curious how it would be with with lamb, and I think it would be delightful with cream cheese on toast, for an afternoon teatime treat.
~ : ♥ : ~

the Light of Scarborough Fair Jelly
(Francoise's Garden Herb Jelly, adapted)
1 lb cooking apples
½ pt cider vinegar
2 pt water
herbs to simmer with apples
6 largeish parsley sprigs, the same of peppermint
a few sprigs of thyme, winter savory, sage, and rosemary
granulated sugar, 1 lb for every pint of extracted juice
herbs to stir into jelly - total, very finely chopped, about 2 T
4 parsley sprigs
8 mint sprigs
a mixed handful of thyme, sage, and rosemary

Wash apples, remove stems and blossom end bits, and chop to bits (including peel and core). Add water and herbs and bring to a boil and simmer gently for a half hour or until apples are very soft.

Stir in the vinegar and boil hard for five minutes.

Strain the cooked fruit through muslin or a jelly bag, hang it up so it can drip into another container overnight. For clear jelly do not squeeze the jelly bag. I let it drip into a big measuring cup, which made it easy to see how much juice I had.

For every pint of juice, use a pound of sugar. Heat the juice and sugar gradually till the sugar dissolves, and then boil till it reaches the set point.

Remove from heat and let the jelly cool just a little, for about ten minutes. Then stir the finely chopped herbs into the jelly, funnel the jelly into canning jars and hot water process for ten minutes. Let cool overnight on the counter, then label and store in a cool dark place. (My whole house is cool and dark, except in the summer) The recipe made three half pint jars, and about a tablespoon left over. It set very firmly with only the natural pectin in the apples, though it took almost a half hour to get the jelly to the set point, which I tested with the cold saucer method.

music to listen to while canning herbal jelly


  1. Oh wow, that looks amazingly good. My husband just got a book on making preserves - I'm looking forward to the experimentation!

  2. Great recipe. I also love the video. I forgot that medieval hippies took themselves so very seriously back in the day. And I do remember the day. :)

  3. You had totally sold your herb jelly to me with just the title. I hardly needed to read the recipe. But then to finish off with the Pentangle track. Wow. That was the first album I bought as an art student. That was also when I first started cooking and become interested in preserving. Thanks for that. I look forward to revisiting your blog and am glad that the Canjam has introduced you to me. Fab jelly.