Satisfaction of the Utmost Kind

Mick Jagger had obviously not discovered the benefits of making jam when he wrote 'I can't get no satisfaction' (double negative Mick, tut tut). Maybe, now he's old and wrinkly he has at last found satisfaction by stirring up a little crab apple jelly. I really don't know. What I do know is, that making jams, jellies and chutneys is the most satisfying of pastimes. I've spent the last two days in my kitchen amid a haze of sticky boilings undisturbed by husbands and children and it has been bliss. Bliss I tell you.

First up was chilli jelly or 'chelly' as we like to call it. This is really a vastly superior version of sweet chilli sauce. I used some of the crab apples from my garden and added red and green chillies from Sainsburys'.

Plain crab apple jelly is delicious and beautiful. Crabs are high in pectin so it should set easily. My chelly hasn't set that well, I think the chilli interferes with the pectin. No matter though, this will be mainly used as a sauce. Also once it has cooled down it will firm up.
Update: actually now it has cooled right down it has set perfectly. We are going to sample some with an oriental stlye fish stir-fry tonight ;o)

The cooked apples have to be strained through a jelly bag overnight. If you want your jelly to be clear and jewel-like don't be tempted to squeeze the bag -it will make it cloudy. You will yield more though.

But why wouldn't you want your jelly to be clear? It's like having stained glass windows in your kitchen.

Next I dug out my bag of frozen blackberries to make into jam.

Three and a half pounds of berries didn't yield as much jam as I'd hoped.

Six jars should last a few months I hope.

Finally, more damsons. On Monday morning during the first school run of the term I noticed that a small tree I had taken for a blackthorn back in April -see this post (first two pics) was in fact laden, absolutely laden with damsons and not sloes. What was more, the branches were in grabbing distance.
Yesterday I took a basket with me and on the way back from school filled it. I picked five and a half pounds of damsons. Why on earth I ever bought damsons when I seem to be surrounded by the things is a mystery.
I decided to make jam with half of them and purée the rest for the freezer (I love damson purée stirred into yogurt).

I'd never made damson jam before. It is a bit of a faff because you have to fish out the stones as it boils*. The taste, though, oh the taste! Damson jam is quite the most delicious jam I've ever tasted or made. I wish I'd made all five and a half pounds into jam now. Too late alas- I stewed the rest whilst making the jam. All I got were three and a half pots. I added some cinnamon sticks and some cloves but I'm not sure it needed any extra help.
Damsons must be the fruit par excellence for preserving -jam, jelly, cheese**, chutney, gin -all fabulous.

My preserving efforts are far from finished. I will soon be up to my nipples in quinces. What to do with them? My preliminary plans are for quince jelly, quince vodka, quince cheese and quince and pumpkin chutney. I will also be baking them, adding them to Middle Eastern inspired meat stews and stewing them for the freezer.

 All the fruit I have used has been free which makes my efforts doubly satisfying :o)

* If I'd made jelly instead of jam this would not have been necessary. Next year, next year....
** A 'cheese' is an old-fashioned preserve best described as a solid jam. Damsons and quinces are the best fruits for cheeses. You slice little pieces off them to eat as a sweetmeat or with actual cheese. The Spanish delicacy membrillo is quince cheese.


  1. Oooer. Have a vision of you up to your nips in quince. And I've never even met you!

    Love your jar labels. Hope you are feeling smug, you domestic goddess you. Ax

    PS Is the cd player still singing after the gin disaster???

  2. This is a really ignorant question, but are all crab apples created equal? The tree outside my back door is laden with them. I know they are some sort of crab apple - d'you reckon I should just try cooking them?

  3. You have been busy - all those lovely smells that must have been coming from your kitchen.

  4. Those labels are great, do you make them yourself?

  5. Hi lovely, this is a good 'un. I wish I'd known you needed chillis you could have had them for nowt too. good luck with the quince harvest. I am up to the doo dahs with tomatoes. We could open a market stall.

  6. There's an idea Louise!

    Sherri, yes the labels are mine, although I wouldn't go as far as to call it 'making'. They're just doodles on a sticky label!

  7. Anonymous7:48 pm BST

    They look yummy, Sue.

    Lizzy at Ruffles and Ribbons has been furiously jam making, too:


    You've both given me the urge to give it a try!

    Enjoy the weekend!

  8. You've been busy, they all sound delicious.

  9. I am impressed! I made some crab apple jelly for the first time recently. I picked a friend's tree and it only yielded 1 and a half jars but I was pleased with my first result. Your store looks amazing! x

  10. All that jam and jelly looks gorgeous. Especially the damson, yummy.

    "Up to my nipples in quinces" made me howl with laughter :D

  11. giggle, giggle, what a wonderful post Sue and very productive I must say. My mouth is watering.
    Hugs Sandi xx

  12. Your jams and jellies are lovely. Bet your kitchen smelled divine!

  13. All that work but what a lovely result. I don't think jam making is feasible unless you get the fruit free but there's nothing like the real thing is there?
    I hope you have somewhere that you can display all of this bounty where everyone can see it.

  14. Love the name 'chelly' - we're hoping for a weekend of jam making....got to get those little kiddies out foraging the last of the blackberries first though!!

    Have a fabulous weekend,

    Nina xxx

  15. what a fab couple of days you've had, what wonderful produce. Must dash out now and have another raid on the blackberries and the sloes....

  16. Yoghurt and damson jam/puree/sauce has got to be one of my favourite puds ever. Yum!!!

  17. It all sounds so delicious and satisfying. The labels are the icing on the cake (if you know what I mean)..

  18. What a domestic goddess! I have my eye on a damson tree which I found last year - sadly all the fruit is at the very top!
    Have just found a delicious sounding recipe for 'tomato jam' too - just right for using up my tomto glut.

  19. Your jars of jam look beautiful - how lovely to be so productive with the autumn fruits.
    Helen x

  20. Oh how I am loving your blog!

  21. Anonymous8:09 am BST

    Hi there, What is the best way to get stones out of damsons. Like you, I love the taste of damson puree but struggle to get rid of all the stones. Grateful for any tips.

    I've also got a newly planted quince tree in my garden, so will be coming back here regularly for advice on the output.

  22. Hi Anon!

    I'm afraid the only way to get them out is either to cut them in half and extract the stone before cooking, or to fish them out as they cook, they do rise to the surface. It's a bit of a chore but well worth it.

  23. Anonymous5:30 pm BST

    I can't tell you how much your blog cheers me up - its beautiful! I LOVE the sampler pages, just lovely to celebrate the colours of each month! Is it easy to do - is it an application on blogspot? Must get round to starting a blog of my own soon!

  24. Tessa, thank you! I use the mosaic maker on Big Huge Labs.com which I found via Flickr. It is very easy to do :o)

    Sue xx

  25. Hello there, just found your lovely blog and discovered you live in my neck of the woods......I've never tasted quince or crab apples, but it all looks perfectly delicious.
    florrie x

  26. Hi Sue :) Are you into making tomato chutney per chance? If so there was a brilliant Sarah Raven recipe this week in the Telegraph gardening supplement for 'De Kas tomato jam' ......probably in her cookery book I guess (which i don't have! yet!)......anyways, am happy to 'share' if you wannit ;-) Love your blog btw x

  27. Wow that is a lot of jam indeed!! You are definitely a jam queen :-)

  28. Oh I have to disagree, and agree with Mick! I tried making jam this summer and even though the blackberries were free from Dad's allotment I found the whole thing very expensive and faffy! And the jam didn't even taste very nice!!

    I have to say I LOVE your little hand-drawn labels though! :)

  29. Anonymous1:29 pm BST

    Love the third photo of the jars - the colours are gorgeous. And I love your labels, they're perfect.

  30. Fantastic labels!! everything looks wonderful - very inspiring!

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  32. Hi Sue - chelly for defintie next time I think! Great idea. I went for basil with mine today because Susan Hill says it's so good in the Magic Apple Tree - and of course she is right. Your preserving session reminds me of that lovley autumn cooking session she describes in the book.

    Love your sweet labels btw.


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