Christmas Apple and Cinnamon Jelly

Well not Jelly as we know it but Jelly in the sense of a fruit preserve.

Jelly is a clear or translucent fruit spread made from sweetened fruit (or vegetable) juice and set using naturally occurring pectin. 

Chutney, Confit, Conserves, Fruit butter, Fruit curd, Fruit spread, Jam, Jelly and Marmalade, all of these come under the general title of ‘Fruit Preserves’.

So here ‘s my masterclass on making a Christmas preserve with images!

Christmas Apple and Cinnamon Jelly
Ingredients: 3lb 30oz cooking apples diced, thinly paired rind of 1 lemon, 2in piece of ginger root crushed, 8in cinnamon stick, roughly broken plus extra if you wish, 1lb 2oz white granulated sugar per pint of juice. 

Method: Put the apples and 1 & 3/4 pints of water in a large preserving pan. Add lemon ring, ginger and cinnamon. Bring to boil, then cover pan and simmer for an hour or so until the apples are pulpy and squidgy. Spoon mixture into a jelly bag and allow top drip for about 6 hours. 

Measure the juice and weigh out the correct amount of sugar. Add the sugar and bring the mixture to a slow boil stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to a rolling boil, then take any scum (white in colour). 

Wash your jars and lids in warm soapy water then sterilise for about 20 minutes in the over on gas mark 4.  Then add the mixture with use of a funnel, seal and label…a voila!

The Victorians enjoyed their preserves and here some examples:

Take fine juicy free-stone peaches, and pare and quarter them. Scald them in a very little water, drain and mash them, and squeeze the juice through a jelly-bag. To every pint of juice allow a pound of *loaf-sugar, and a few of the peach-kernels. Having broken up the kernels and boiled them by themselves for a quarter of an hour in just as much water as will cover them, strain off the kernel-water, and add it to the juice. Mix the juice with the sugar, and when it is melted, boil them together fifteen minutes, till it becomes a thick jelly. Skim it well when it boils. Try the jelly by taking a little in a spoon and holding it in the open air to see if it congeals. If you find, that after sufficient boiling, it still continues thin, you can make it congeal by stirring in an ounce or more of isinglass, dissolved and strained. When the jelly is done, put it into tumblers, and lay on the top double tissue paper cut exactly to fit the inside of the glass ; pressing it down with your fingers.

You may make plum jelly in the same manner, allowing a pound and a half of sugar to a pint of juice. Directions For Cookery Being A System Of The Art 1837

*A sugarloaf was the traditional form in which refined sugar was produced and sold until the late 19th century when granulated and cube sugars were introduced.

Take fine raspberries that are perfectly ripe. Weigh them, and to each pound of fruit allow three quarters of a pound of fine loaf-sugar. Mash the raspberries, and break up the sugar. Then mix them together, and put them into a preserving kettle over a good fire. Stir them frequently and skim them. The jam will be done in half an hour. Put it warm into glasses, and lay on the top a white paper cut exactly to fit the inside, and dipped in brandy. Then tie on another cover of very thick white paper. Make blackberry jam in the same manner. Directions For Cookery Being A System Of The Art 1837

Apple Jam
Ingredients: 3lbs 30z cooking apples, 2lbs 2oz  sugar, 2 lemons, juice and grated zest

Peel the apples, core and slice them very thin, and be particular that they are all the same sort. Put them into a jar, stand this in a saucepan of boiling water, and let the apples stew until quite tender. Put the apples into a preserving-pan, crush the sugar to small lumps, and add it, with the grated lemon-rind and juice, to the apples. Simmer these for 30 minutes, reckoning from the time the jam begins to simmer properly; remove the scum as it rises, and when the jam is done, put it into pots for use. Mrs Beetons Book of Household Management 1861


How To Make Christmas Wrapping Paper

If you are going to give Christmas gifts or gifts at Christmas the wrapping paper is usually in there somewhere, for us it’s quite cheap and readily available.

However Victorians had to make their own as nothing was capable of the mass production needed.

Victorians presents might well be wrapped in white tissue paper decorated with bows snippets of ribbon and lace that could be found lying around the house, in those days very little was wasted.

Sometimes people paper pictures from a greeting card were added as extra decorations for wrapping.

Even a piece of outside greenery was added to the gift box.

So why not try it for yourself…

Pickles for Christmas

Pickles…I have too say I am rather fond of Pickles and do make my own from time to time and they truly are a traditional gift at Christmastime. So here are some recipes from Mrs Beecher from 1873, firstly the Vinegar:

Vinegar for pickling should be sharp, but not the sharpest kind, as it injures the pickles. Wine or cider vinegar is reliable. Much manufactured vinegar is sold that ruins pickles and is unhealthful. If you use copper, bell-metal, or brass vessels for pickling, never allow the vinegar to cool in them, as it then is poisonous. Add a table-spoonful of alum and a tea-cup of salt to each three gallons of vinegar, and tie up a bag with pepper, ginger-root, and spices of all sorts in it, and you have vinegar prepared for any kind of common pickling, and in many cases all that is needed is to throw the fruit in and keep it in till wanted.

Well you can just buy prepared pickling Vinegar nowadays. It seems that is was quite likely in those days when glass jars were not so readily available that being poisoned was not out of the question!!

Keep pickles only in wood or stone ware. Anything that has held grease will spoil pickles. Stir pickles occasionally, and if there are soft ones, take them out, scald the vinegar, and pour it hot over the pickles. Keep enough vinegar to cover them well. If it is weak, take fresh vinegar, and pour on hot. Do not boil vinegar or spice over five minutes.

I end to keep my pickling onion in with the potatoes and other onions, this seems to keep them fairly fresh for some time. So here are some suggestions for pickles:

Sweet Pickles.
One pound of sugar, one quart of vinegar, two pounds of fruit. Boil fifteen minutes, skim well, put in the fruit and let it boil till half cooked. For peaches, flavour with cinnamon and mace; for plums and all dark fruit, use allspice and cloves.

This looks quite interesting!

Pickled Tomatoes.
As you gather them, leave an inch or more of stem; throw them into cold vinegar. When you have enough, take them out, and scald some spices, tied in a bag, in good vinegar; add a little sugar, and pour it hot over them.

Pickled Peaches.
Take ripe but hard peaches, wipe off the down, stick a few cloves into them, and lay them in cold spiced vinegar. In three months they will be sufficiently pickled and also retain much of their natural flavour.

Pickled fruit… hmm…I’m not sure but might be a great unusual gift.

Pickled Peppers.
Take green peppers, take the seeds out carefully so as not to mangle them, soak them nine days in salt and water, changing it every day, and keep them in a warm place. Stuff them with chopped cabbage, seasoned with cloves, cinnamon, and mace; put them in cold spiced vinegar.

Pickled Nasturtions (This is a type of cabbage)
Soak them three days in salt and water as you collect them, changing it once in three days; and when you have enough, pour off the brine, and pour on scalding hot vinegar.

Pickled Onions. Peel, and boil in milk and water ten minutes, drain off the milk and water, and pour scalding spiced vinegar on to them.

Pickled Gherkins. Keep them in strong brine till they are yellow, then take them out and turn on hot spiced vinegar, and keep them in it, in a Continue reading