05/09/2011

Rowanberry jelly

European rowans (Sorbus aucupari, sometimes called European mountain ash) grow well in the Icelandic climate and are common garden trees. In the autumn after the first frost and thaw you can see thrushes feasting on the berries and getting quite drunk on the fermented juice.

Humans also eat rowan berries, especially in jams and jellies (raw berries will cause indigestion, so don't let the lovely colour tempt you to try them uncooked).

The slightly bitter flavour makes rowan preserves an excellent match with strong cheeses and game, such as wild goose and reindeer, and it's also good with lamb.

If I can get enough rowan berries from a non-polluted source I plan to try making this jelly:

2 litres rowan berries with stalks
500 gr apples with skins (Jonagold is recommended as being flavourful and rich in pectin)
750 ml water
900 ml sugar for every 1 litre of juice

Pick the berries and freeze them overnight. This removes the worst of the bitter flavour of the berries.
Bring the water to the boil in a cooking pot and add the berries, stalks and all, and the coarsely chopped apples with skins and cores (only remove the seeds and stalks). Simmer gently for about 20 minutes.

Mash the stewed berries and apples with a potato masher and strain through a fine strainer lined with cheesecloth, or use a fruit press to extract the juice and then strain through a cheesecloth. Measure the juice and add 900 ml of sugar for every 1 litre of juice.

Return to the cooking pot and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes or until a drop of the liquid sets when dripped on the back of a cold spoon. Pour into sterilized, hot jars and seal immediately.

Preservative may be added.

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