Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rowan jelly and a nice day out

Almost by accident Saturday found us in Uppingham and by accident I mean that when my partner suggested we stop for lunch in Melton Mowbray I insisted we carry on to Uppingham despite it being 20 miles out the way. In my defence I should point out that as small towns go Uppingham is well furnished with antique shops and a fine brace of second hand book shops within a door or two of each other. I like both, but my favourite as I have mentioned before is The Rutland Bookshop. I’m including pictures this time which I hope will go some way to showing just what an unlikely place this is. It’s tiny, so tiny that you’re almost afraid to move – particularly inhibiting this visit as I was wearing a big coat and carrying a large bag. I thought there would be a book avalanche at almost any moment.

Amazingly (well it amazes me anyway) I didn’t buy anything. I saw a lot of books I already had, browsed through a formidable pile of Angela Brazils and turned over any number of alluring titles. I slightly regret leaving behind an old orange and white penguin ‘Tarka the Otter’ but my rule at the moment is not to buy anything I don’t think I’ll read straight away and generally to lay of acquiring more of anything for myself until after I’ve Christmas shopped for others. However anyone with more money or less self control who finds themselves in the area should make a point of visiting The Rutland Bookshop. It feels like something straight out of Dickens and clearly deserves support.

The trip to Uppingham also yielded a Pheasant and the opportunity to try the Rowan Jelly I made a few weeks ago. Making it made me feel like a cross between a highland lady and a later day Mrs Beaton type. It’s the first time I’ve attempted Jelly rather than Jam so I wasn’t sure what the results would be like, especially given my makeshift jelly bag made from a piece of muslin and an embroidery hoop balanced between 2 chairs, but my mother very kindly provided me with a bucket of Rowan berries and earwigs diligently collected from her garden. I had expressly requested the berries – the bugs were a little something extra, so doubts about what might be lurking in the bottom of the bucket aside I got on with it and can now recommend making jelly to any and everybody. The Rowan is excellent with game, and I have it on good authority equally good on scones and toast. Whilst berries are still around the recipe is as follows:


1kg of Rowan berries

1kg of crab apples or the sharpest apples available

1 lemon

Around 1kg granulated sugar

Pick over the fruit removing stalks and leafy bits and rinse the berries.

Chop the apple roughly – no need to peel or core.

Place all the fruit in a pan with 1.2 litres of water, bring gently to a simmering point and continue until the fruit is soft and pulpy. Remove from heat.

Have ready a scalded jelly bag or other suitable contraption – turn the contents of the pan into it with a bowl underneath to collect the juice. Leave to drip over night, and don’t squeeze, squeezing causes cloudy jelly.

Start to sterilise half a dozen or so jam jars.

Measure the juice. Hopefully it will be about 1.2 litres. For every 600ml of juice allow 450g of sugar.

Put the juice and the juice of the lemon into a pan and bring slowly to the boil. Add the sugar just as it comes to the boil, stir until dissolved and then boil rapidly without stirring for 10 mins after which it’s time to start checking for setting point. I favour the cold plate and does it wrinkle method, but one day I’m getting a sugar thermometer.

When setting point is reached pot and seal as quickly as possible.

Keeps for a year


  1. That looks like the best kind of bookstore, all jumbled titles and stacks of books. I'm drooling a bit at the thought of all those Angela Brazils!

  2. Worth pointing out that the pictures are of the windows and stairs... It's a brilliant book shop.

  3. It is wonderful Simon, you would like it very much, it's also only one door down to another excellent but slightly less crazy establishment called forest books. It's almost worth the trip to Leicestershire for.