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Spiced Cranberry and Claret Jelly

Even if it's not Christmas, it's such a treat to always have some home-made cranberry jelly on standby in your cupboard to serve with game or roast chicken or pâté – it livens up so many things and gives you a taste of luscious cranberries all year round.

 Spiced Cranberry and Claret Jelly

  Makes about one 17½ fl oz (500 ml) preserving jar

 3 lb 8 oz (1.6 kg) cranberries
 1 cinnamon stick
 a few juniper berries
 2 cloves
 18 fl oz (510 ml) good claret
 golden granulated sugar
Need help with conversions?
You will also need a nylon sieve with a top diameter of 9½ inches (24 cm), or two smaller sieves; some muslin (or gauze); and a 17½ fl oz (500 ml) preserving jar, sterilised.

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Three


First of all, place the cranberries, cinnamon stick, juniper berries, cloves and 18 fl oz (510 ml) water in your largest saucepan and simmer them over a gentle heat for 25-30 minutes, or until the cranberries have burst and become tender and mushy. Then empty the entire contents of the pan into the sieve, lined with the muslin (or gauze) and placed over an equally large bowl or jug, and leave it to drip for a minimum of 8 hours or, preferably, overnight. Do not be tempted to press the cranberries; the juice may become cloudy, but it's important to leave it alone to drip away.

The next day, chill three or four saucers in the freezer compartment of the fridge. Now measure the juice and, for every 1 pint (570 ml), weigh out 10 oz (275 g) of sugar. Pour the juice back into the rinsed pan, add the sugar and stir over a gentle heat until all the sugar has completely dissolved. Then add the claret, bring the mixture up to a fast, rolling boil and boil hard for about 10 minutes. (I always use a timer.) After 10 minutes, test for a set. Remove the pan from the heat while you do so. Put a teaspoonful of jelly on to one of the chilled saucers, pop it back into the fridge for a few seconds, then push a finger gently through it. If the surface of the jelly wrinkles, setting point has been reached. If not, continue to boil and re-test at 5-minute intervals.

Once the jelly has set, leave it to settle for 15 minutes or so, then pour it into the hot, sterilised jar (see below), filling it as full as possible, cover straightaway with a waxed disc, then seal tightly and label when cold. Store in a cool, dry, dark place.

To sterilise jars, wash the jars and lids in warm, soapy water, rinse well (again in warm water), then dry them thoroughly with a clean tea cloth, place them on a baking tray and pop them in a medium oven, gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C) for a minimum of 5 minutes. Add their contents while they are still hot. Note: it is never practical to state the exact yield in a jelly recipe because it all depends on the ripeness of the fruit and the time allowed for dripping.


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