- 2kg Bramley Cooking Applies (about 10)
- 6 Bird Eye Chillis
- 2 Japaleno Chillis
- 2 Scotch Bonnet Chillis
- 1 Lemon
- 630g Granulated Sugar
- 175ml Cider Vinegar
Silly Chilli Jelly
This chilli jelly is silly for 3 reasons. Firstly, we went a bit over the top with the chillis. Well, just a tiny bit. We actually scooped some of them out before it set to avoid inflicting too much pain on our “testers”. Secondly, there was some suggestion that this jelly might go well with ice cream at a kids party. Obviously not. We’d imagine that the combination of ice cream, 6 small children aged 5-6 and a pot of this chilli jelly would lead to extreme chaos (and imprisonment). Actually, you don’t need the chilli jelly for the chaos, or the ice cream for that matter – just children. And finally, this chilli jelly is silly because we made it, and we are silly chefs, so it’s silly by definition. Fact.
How we did it:
- We chopped up the cooking apples roughly, core and all. We suggest about 8-10 pieces per apple. Not that we’re experts in “roughly chopping” things. We are, of course, guessing – as usual. But it seemed to work. It looked “rough” anyway.
- We put the “roughly chopped” apples in a deep sauce pan and covered with water. The various recipes we read suggested approximately 2 pints. We forgot that and filled our very deep pan with probably double that, maybe 4 pints (see later for consequences and corrective action).
- We chopped up the bird eye chillis very finely and added them too, along with the zest and juice of one lemon.
- Jess lost complete interest and left at this stage. Fairly normal for a recipe that doesn’t include chocolate in one form or the other (actually she did rejoin later to observe the finished jars and stated “I didn’t make those daddy”. She’s not wrong.).
- “We” brought the apples, chillis, lemon and water to the boil and simmered it for 20-25 minutes. The apples were soft at this stage. “We” added the cider vinegar and boiled for another 5 minutes.
- “We” got another large saucepan out (we only have two so had maxed out at this stage). “We” also needed a colander. We’ve got two of those as well. But we only needed one. Too much information?
- We lined the colander with a muslin cloth (which we ironed first to sterlise it – we’re being serious, that’s a quick and easy way to do it), placed it over saucepan no.2 and then poured the apple/chilli/lemon juice through into it.
- We left the juice to strain for about 4 hours (most recipes we read said “overnight” but there really didn’t seem to be much going on after a few hours). By the way it’s important not to force the mixture through the cloth as it can make the jelly cloudy.
- We were aiming to have about 1.5 – 2 pints of liquid but we had far more than that after 4 hours due to our earlier heavy handedness with the water so we simmered it for about 20 minutes to reduce it down (not in any of the recipes). We rather randomly ended up with 800ml of liquid. We were happy with that.
- From the various recipes we had read we deduced that 800ml of water meant we’d need 630 grams of granulated sugar and poured that in (just scale up/down depending how much liquid you end up with).
- We heated gently and stirred until the sugar dissolved – about 20 minutes.
- We removed the seeds from the Scotch Bonnet and Japaleno chillis, chopped them as small as we could and added them to the mixture and boiled for about 20 minutes, removing the foam that came to the surface along with some of the chilli pieces (maybe 10-15% of what we’d just added) which we thought people would thank us for in time.
- After 15-20 minutes it’s a good time to test for the “setting point” and there are various ways to do this. You can use a jam thermometer to see if it has reached 103°c or you can test it by putting a teaspoon of liquid onto a chilled plate and running your finger through it to see if the surface wrinkles. We didn’t do any of that and guessed (as we always do) and it was fine. We have a special empathy with jam. We can feeeel the setting point, dude.
- We let the mixture cool down for about 10 minutes and then used a funnel to pour it into 4 very differently sized, sterilised jars that we took straight from the dishwasher (our preferred method of sterilising jars).
What we thought of it:
As we’re “silly” and not “serious” chefs we were quite surprised that you can make a jelly without using gelatin. But of course that turns out to be because the apples contain pectin which makes an excellent gelling agent (when combined with sugar)….we think. Technicalities aside, this chilli jelly was really nice. Sweet – of course. Hot – of course. Not suitable to have at a kids party as part of a “jelly and ice cream combo” – of course.