The weather wasn't brilliant this past week; quite a bit of rain but as I'd downloaded some new books onto my Kindle I was able to curl up and do some reading without feeling too guilty about not being out in the sunshine - there wasn't any.
Yesterday I took advantage of the gorgeous day and went out foraging elderflowers and rose petals and today I spent most of the day making chilli jelly, elderflower cordial and; oh joy of joys, rose petal jelly.
Oh rose petal jelly how I love thee! First you have to set out on a lovely sunny day and pick some beautifully scented roses. (I gathered mine from various public places around the village including the churchyard, which may account for the beautifully angelic smell in the kitchen earlier). Then you have to pick the petals off until you have 1 litre of petals.
Don't they look gorgeous - the purple ones come from the local railway station.
Then having recovered from the delicious scent now pervading your house, you put them into a steel based pot and add a litre of water.
And proceed to heat the water to boiling point, then you simmer them for 15 minutes.
Sadly the colour drains away but the scent remains. At this point invite everyone in the house to come and sniff, they will complain at first but once they've smelt it they will thank you.
Now shoo everyone out and strain the mixture through a muslin cloth into a large bowl or measuring jug. If possible hang the muslin with the petal inside above the bowl to allow it to drain thoroughly. Don't squeeze it if you want your jelly to remain clear.
As I have a cat I hang my muslin from a cupboard handle - last time I tried a broom between two chairs the Nu decided to 'investigate' and I ended up wasting a lot of lovingly prepared apple juice.
You'll end up with this - some deep reddish brown liquid.
And then the magic happens - add the juice of two lemons and behold....
...it becomes pink. Alchemy at its best.
Ok now measure how much liquid you have and then pour it into your jam making pot (a thick based saucepan if you don't have a jam making pot - I know I didn't have one for ages). Add the same amount of sugar to the pot as you have liquid (eg 1pint liquid = 1 lb sugar/ 1litre = 1kg).
Bring to the boil and keep at a rolling boil for about 10 minutes or until you have reached the setting point - that mysterious moment when a cooled drop of the syrup wrinkles when you push your finger through it. Those wrinkles can be quite subtle so do look carefully.
Of course while you've been doing all this you've also been sterilising your jars. You can do this by washing them in hot water and then putting in the oven (with the lids) for 15 minutes at 150 degrees centigrade. I usually leave the jars in the oven until I need them.
Carefully ladle the jelly into the jars, I tend to use a funnel here as it can be quite difficult not to spill everywhere and everything is very hot. Put the lids on the filled jars, tighten them up carefully and then stand back and admire your hard work.
You can label and decorate as much as you want. Do taste a bit of left over jelly though. I think it tastes of Turkish delight and sherbert and it smells divine. Do not invite anybody else in the house to taste it yet - they'll only want more. Enjoy your delicious secret and amaze them with it when you serve it up at a later date.
Elderflower cordial, chilli jelly and rose petal jelly. The pantry is looking fuller tonight.
Feet up now as the fabulous Jean-Luc cooks roast lamb and roasties - all in all a delicious day.