Jellies are my Jam October 25 2018, 1 Comment
Jellies have captured my heart this year. Their crystalline translucence, their delicate gel texture—it's pure nature magic. As ever, I don't add any pectin—the set is achieved thanks to the naturally occurring pectin in the fruit, which is why my jellies are made with high-pectin fruit like apples, quince and red currant.
Quince jelly is perhaps the oldest jelly, dating back to the 7th century and likely made by simply boiling the juice of the fruit with honey. When cane sugar made its way to Europe in the 13th century, it quickly became preferred over honey for its neutral flavor and lack of excess moisture. 300 years later, Nostradamus described a quince jelly's color as "so diaphanous that it resembles an oriental ruby." Our jellies are made in the same way that the one he describes surely was, and we feel similarly mesmerized by them.
Achieving set is relatively easy—the fruit has so much pectin that it is just a matter of time. However, achieving a perfect set is a challenge. I prefer the jelly with what I'd call a gentle set. I want your spoon to pierce the top of the jam, to pop through it like a bubble, to make you think a bit about surface tension. But then to slide right through and just barely wiggle as you spoon it onto your bread—yielding, walking a line between hard and soft, so that they melt like butter on a hot-out-of-the-oven scone.
These new jellies are a celebration of the harvest, of local fruit treated with great care—of elegance, process, and history. They are a challenge and a joy to make, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.