Everyone can cook. Actually I have to take that statement back straight away, on reflection not everyone can cook, but everyone must eat. Whilst some eat just to live, most of us I think in addition to nourishment, eat for pleasure. I love to cook AND eat and it is something I do every day of course. Epicurus the Greek philosopher said along with many other wise musings, that “one must practice the things which produce happiness,” No surprise then if I tell you I spend many long and happy hours in my kitchen baking, cooking and recently experimenting with recipes. I realise that there are many people who like me love to cook and are fascinated enough by food to find nothing even faintly ridiculous about reading cookbooks in bed or thinking about ingredients or recipes in those spare idle moments. Of course it is often difficult to find any spare idle moment that can't be filled with a must do chore.
Yesterday was one of those days.
Having ownership of an apple tree that feels obliged to produce several kilos of apples each year is, believe me, a chore. How to store them, cook them or dispose of them occupies your thoughts from late August to November. I have tried every recipe going containing apples with the bid to use as many as possible just to stop myself feeling bad about composting the lot. I have attempted to give them away but no takers; everyone I know seem to be trying to force their windfall garden produce on me instead. I have apple trees, so I have to make Apple jelly, it is the simplest way of getting rid of a few kilos of apples with hardly any effort.
For this recipe you need 5lbs of cooking apples, chop them up, but check them first to be sure they have no bruises and blemishes. There is no need to peel or core. Place in a very large sauce pan and add enough water to sit level with the apples in the pan, about 3 pints. Heat up until the apples start to turn mushy. Add 6 cloves, a sprinkle or three of ground ginger and some lemon juice and a cinnamon stick ( the cloves and cinnamon stick should be removed at the potting stage).
This is the moment that occurs at this time every year when I realise I should have bought a jelly bag as I won't be able to strain the mixture over night to capture the pure apple essence. I wonder who actually has a jelly bag apart from say Delia or Gary Rhodes. I kick myself because I don't have one and driving in to town to get one from Lakeland is just not going to happen, can't see myself making that journey. And so a cheap pair of tights ( new of course) are my genius substitute. It does the job!! I tie it to the door knob of a kitchen cupboard and Robert is your father's brother!!
Early next morning, measure the juice you have strained and for every pint ( 600ml) add one lb (500g) of sugar. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved, add the chopped tarragon, grated lime and finely chopped garlic. Skim any scum off surface and boil hard to setting point. Pot in warm sterilised jars. Label and store