Harvest season is busy at Brecon House. We’re extremely lucky to have a small orchard where trees are full of apples, pears and plums (green gages - my favourite ). I also push hard to get jams made of all sorts, but mostly at this time of the year Blackberry Jam, which is a family favourite in porridge throughout the year.
Here a few recipe’s we’ve been working on recently (will add photos from mobile soon):
Picking blackberries at this time of the year is a joy. Get out during a day of intermittent sun, where there is a slight chill in the air, and find yourself a lovely hedgerow to walk along slowly. Wear some trousers so you can lean into the brambles and give yourself an hour or two for picking.
During that time you should have got around 1KG of blackberries. You can rinse them in water if you like but I think the rain is already done that for you, but if you’ve been picking near a busy road is probably advisable.
- 1 KG of Blackberries
- One apple
- 1 KG of Jam Sugar
- 4 medium sized jars
- 20-30g of butter
Place your blackberries in a saucepan (use a saucepan where the blackberries take up a 1/4 to a 1/3 of the space). Peel and core the apple and cut into fine slices and this to the blackberries. Heat the saucepan on medium heat until the fruit is soft and to your liking for jam (fruit doesn’t soften any further when you add sugar). Add the sugar and turn the heat up until the mixture begins bubbling and rising. Place a dish in the fridge so it become cold (you use this for testing the jam). Once the mixture looks like molten jam (or you have measured the temperature to 107 degreee celcius), take a tea spoon and put a small amount on your cold plate, which you can return to the fridge. A few minutes later remove the plate and test the jam by pushing the jam with your finger - if it wrinkes on top your jam is good to jar up.
Alongside the above you can clean the jars and then put them in the oven at 100 degrees (don’t put lids in as components may melt). Once heated (about 10 minutes), place jars on a surface and pour jam in with a small gap at the top, and put on the lids.
Crab Apple Jelly
There are a lot of crab apples at this time of the year. You can make them into a delicious jelly which is great for toast.
- Crab apples (4-5 kg)
- 3kg Granulated sugar
- 12 medium jars
Note - you also need a muslin bag for making this jelly
Pick a big bucket of crab apples, wash if you like. Slice each in two and place in a large saucepan. Place the saucepan and add a pint of water for each KG. Place on the heat and boil until all apples are mushy.
Now you need to put the mush into your muslin bag. Place the muslin bag in another large saucepan, and ladel in the mush. You then need to lift the muslin bag by tieing string around the top and then suspending the bag above the saucepan. Leave to drip for 12 hours (usually overnight) and do not be tempted to squeeze (the liquid will become cloudy).
Measure your liquid in litres and then heat again. Add 1kg of sugar for each litre and heat until jam temperature (107 degrees). Test using a plate (see above how done for blackberries), and when ready jar up the jelly.
At this time of the year I peel apples for the freezer for apple pies, crumbles and other puddings for throughout the year. I do this on mass by picking buckets of apples and then peeling them and cropping them for a large saucepan.
I make the apple pie mix by simply putting peeled, cored and chopped apples into a saucepan and heating with a small amount of water (with the lid on), and adding sugar to my preferred taste. I cook until some apples have mushed but the proportion are still intact and have a crunch to bite.
Making shortcrust pastry is straightforward, but here’s a quick recipe:
Ingredients (for 1 pie):
- 250g of plain flour
- 125g of butter (ideally at room temperature)
- 50g of caster sugar (optional)
- 1 egg
Put the flour in a big bowl and add your butter, sliced, and also add sugar (if you like). Rub the flour and butter together between your fingers until it becomes like breadcrumbs (you can also do this in a blender if you like but is quite a lot to wash up). Add your eggs to the mixture and break the yolk with a folk, mix the mixture with a spoon/folk and add a little more water (be careful - not too much), until it is a dough. Get your hands in there and start pushing it around the sides of the bowl to get all mixture off and make it a ball - add more flour if the mixture is not of the right consistency.
Split your ball in half and roll out your dough into a circle ready for the pie dish (which should be lightly buttered). Place in the pie dish by rolling up the dough around the rolling pin and rolling it back onto the top of the pie dish. Push into place and cut around the sides. Add your mixture and then roll out the top of the pie.
Add water to the edges of the bottom half of your pie with your finger so the top sticks and then roll on the top of the pie. Push the edges down with a folk and make some holes in the top of the pie to vent steam.
Place in pre heated oven 180 degrees for about 35 minutes until the pastry is cooked.