These are rowan berries, (rognebær). Rowan trees are also known as mountain ash, and their red-orange berries are tart and very bitter. Rowan jelly is used like lingonberry jam, with roast meat and especially game. It has a particular taste, but I thought it might be nice to try making some to have with strong cheese. Rome is still hot and sticky, and I long for autumn and cool weather, for crisp leaves underfoot and being able to bake without overheating in the kitchen. In the interim, a spot of jelly making.
For this, I mixed rowan berries and apples, in a 3:2 weight ratio. Both to help set the jelly, and to take the bitter edge off. Wash the apples, core them and quarter them, but do not peel. Wash the berries, removing any damaged ones, and remove all twigs. It takes a while…… Pop it all in a large pot, with just enough water to cover, and simmer until the apples are soft and the berries are releasing juice. Half an hour or so? I had a big batch, and I confess, turned it off while we had lunch and watched an old episode of Motive.
Now, put a couple saucers in the fridge so you can test the setting point later. Strain the juice through a muslin cloth. If you have jelly strainer contraption, they are very handy. Strain for 30-40 minutes, then discard the berry-apple mixture. (That is good for compost. Not that I could fit a compost bin on our small balcony, but one can dream…)
Bring the juice back to the boil, stirring occasionally. Skim any foam or scum off. Add the sugar, and bring it back to the boil quickly, for the last time. Add in peeled lemon and some cloves wrapped up in some muslin or thin cloth. Boil rapidly. Test for the setting point: put a spoonful on one of the cold saucer: does the jelly wrinkle once it is cold? If not, boil a bit longer. Or cheat and add pectin, if it looks very dismal. Mine set fine, for once! So I ladled it into small clean sterilized jars and left them upside down to set.
Cooling jars: we had some on toast the next morning, and it was bitter-sweet but nice. Now, I must remember to label these….. And look for some cheese, now that the temperature is finally dropping a bit here. There is thunder rumbling across town, so maybe autumn is coming with all the rain due tomorrow? Might I need a jumper? We have some lovely pecorino ubriaco, matured in red wine, which might just be a weekend treat. I had better revive my sourdough starter too, it has been abandoned in the fridge for a month now. It is usually robust, but we shall see……