Friday, 12 September 2008

Old Foxwhelp

It conjures up a gnarled character with a mature history and a way of telling the tale, or a field name in some forgotten corner. But Old Foxwhelp is an ancient cider apple and I make it into pinky perfect apple jelly to go with the pork and gammon.
I hoiked myself inelegantly over the tree guard with the help of a step ladder and filled the trug with red striped crab apple sized fruits, gave them a sploosh in the sink and then cut them into inexact quarters. One pint of water to every two pounds of apples, and blitz in a preserving pan, being careful not to burn the bottom as it simmers and froths. When all is soft and mushy, into the jelly bag to strain for hours, jelly bag emptied and more sloshed in. To every pint of the baby pink juice you add a pound of sugar (yes, you wouldn't want to brush your teeth with it) and heat to jam setting temperature and then pour carefully into hot jars and seal.
There wasn't enough to last all winter so the tractor was taken down the lane where a wild crab apple beamed with pride at its own harvest. Balanced on the arms of the front loader, and with shepherd's crook in hand, another trugful was tumbled down and is now simmering happily and scentedly before its overnight stopover in the jelly bag.

7 comments:

tim relf said...

What age do you take the pigs to before they get to meet the apple jelly, Mopsa?

Mopsa said...

A generous 6 months Tim - maybe up to 8, depending on weather, how quickly they chew up the ground and when the abattoir has a space in their busy diary; I never like to book them in til I think they are ready, and then they might not be able to do it for another month...

Jay said...

Oh, I love those old names!

Crab apples used to be so highly valued by country folk, didn't they? And now the townies who've moved into the villages hardly ever bother to harvest them. I've seen a tree just this morning groaning under the weight of a bumper crop and they're just falling to rot on the ground.

Walnuts too - a nouvea-riche family have moved into the old thatched cottage where old 'Henry' used to live. He loved his walnut tree. He was a tad eccentric - he'd sit in his armchair and shoot at the squirrels through his open window because they were taking his walnuts! Now, the tree is laden and no-one is bothering with them. They'll rot or be eaten by the squirrels again this year.

All that bounty and no-one using it. Sad.

Mopsa said...

Jay - I think I'm wired not to let free loveliness go to waste - I only wish I was fonder of sloes :(

paula said...

my all time fav.

paula said...

crab apple jelly that is!

FrauKlug said...

It sounds yummy...Just the name is makes me happy!Back in Pennsylvania we used gather quince and crab apples to make jelly. Out here in Oregon people seem to think crab apples are poisonous, and quince are some alien fruit.
More for me!