Jane: There’s a sprawling elder bush just over the river from us which has been dripping glistening black elderberries for the last couple of weeks, desperate to be made into elderberry jelly. So finally we obliged. But instead of spread-on-bread-jam I wanted to make something with a kick, that you could eat with cold meats and cheese. Aha! Just add chilli! Surprisingly, the kids loved this jelly, and what’s more it offers fantastic protection against winter colds and flu – take a daily dose as soon as you feel a sniffle coming on.
This made nine 8oz jars, so scale down as you need:
1.2kg elderberries, stripped from the stalks
4 Bramley apples
juice of 3 lemons
2 tsps crushed dried chillies (this makes it pretty tangy but you can add more if you like)
1.5kg preserving sugar
Put the elderberries in a preserving pan with the apples, chopped into quarters (including skin and cores – elderberry is not high in pectin and this helps with setting). Add the lemon juice, chilli and 1.2 litres cold water. Bring to the boil, and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the elderberries and apples are soft. Strain through a jelly bag, leaving to drip until all the juice is collected (you can throw away the pulp).
Put the liquid into the pan with the sugar. Bring slowly to the boil, then simmer until it reaches setting point at 105ºC (use a jam thermometer). Spoon into sterilised pots, cover with a waxed disc and cellophane round.