INGREDIENTS:  Rowan berries, water & sugar (preserving sugar if possible).

The beauty of this recipe is you can make it no matter how many or how few rowan berries you collect.

And make sure you are certain that what you're picking are Rowan berries, and always leave some for the birds.

EQUIPMENT

large heavy bottomed pan, wooden spoon, measuring jug, jam thermometer (if possible), jam jars, wax discs and labels.

JARS: Have your jars all washed & sterilised before you start. Over the year I keep all old jars and lids so I have a variety of sizes to choose from as I never know how much jelly I’ll make.

A dish washer will sterilise the jars, then keep them warm in the oven till you’re ready. Or just wash by hand in hot soapy water and heat up in the oven.

COOKING:  

Pick over the berries, removing any large woody stems and leaves. Add cold water to half way up the berries and bring to the boil.  Let it simmer away as you stir & crush the berries with a wooden spoon to the side of the pan, so it becomes a soft mush of berries, if it looks too dry add more water.  After about 20 minutes or when the berries are all soft & cooked, drain them.

DRAINING: I use a normal sieve lined with muslin – though you can buy jelly bags (which are never big enough) or you can create your own ‘jelly bag’ - a piece of muslin on a tripod.

If you want very clear jelly then just leave it to slowly drip through, but as this was not my priority I pushed it through with the back of a metal spoon to get every last drop of rowan out.

ADDING SUGAR:

 Measure your liquid and pour it back into a clean pan. Most recipes say for every 1 litre of liquid add about 750 grams of sugar – I found this too little and kept adding more till I liked the taste, though bear in mind that rowan jelly has a naturally bitter - almost acrid tang - that is very different from redcurrant jelly or crab-apple jelly.

Bring this to the boil – a rolling boil for about 10 minutes so it reaches setting point of 106C.  All the while skimming off the scum – though by the end of this I had so much ‘scum’  that I kept it and used it later for supper  - delicious!

If you don’t have a jam thermometer then do the saucer test. (Saucer test = after 10 mins of boiling, take off the heat, drop a drop of liquid onto a cold saucer & put it in the fridge for a minute, then if the surface wrinkles when you push it with your finger it’s done – if not boil again and repeat the test.)

Pour in to the jars, seal with a wax disc and label.

 EATING: I leave it a couple of weeks before eating the jelly, as the particular taste of rowan is too bitter at first, it’s not until later that the subtle flavours develop.

It’s delicious with any meat or cheese, but especially with venison. I don’t know whether that’s something to do with rowans growing where deer graze and eating food that goes together, or whether that’s just chance.

We still have a couple of jars from last year - still delicious!

rowan berries