Aronia berry and apple jelly (naturally gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Aronia_berries_or_chokeberry_and_apple_jelly_preserve
Garden berries and apples combined to make a delicious jelly preserve.                            Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I wasn’t planning another preserve recipe for my blog so soon after my “jam” post earlier in the month, but last weekend I made up a new recipe and as the result was a success, I am sharing it with you this week.

I inherited several established shrubs and bushes when I moved into my current house over 15 years ago. Many were familiar to me but a few were not. One of the curios was the Aronia Melanocarpa. This is an evergreen shrub with leathery green leaves. In the summer it produces arms of red berries which ripen and turn black. For a while, I assumed the shrub with its berries was purely ornamental, however after a wee bit of research I discovered that the berries are edible.

Aronia_Melanocarpa_bush_and_close-up_on_ripe_Aronia_berries_or_chokeberries
Aronia Melanocarpa shrub and fruit. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The shrub is well known in the USA and was introduced into Europe in the 1700’s, as an ornamental. The berries get their common name of chokeberry because the fruit is very astringent when eaten raw, however, I have decided not to test this out for myself! The berries contain a large amount of vitamin C and looking on the web they are considered to be a bit of a “wonder-berry”. Aronia berries are ripe when they are fully black, which happens from mid to late summer depending on where you live. I found the ripest fruit difficult to pick without squishing the berries, so snipped off the stalks as well (which is fine for jelly making). The juice is potent and stains a vibrant shade of blue, so you might want to wear gloves. I should imagine the berries would freeze ok if you needed to harvest them in batches.

I could find little reference in terms of recipes, so I based my mixture on a cranberry jelly, adding apple to temper the astringency and to help with the set. The final jelly has set well and is dark red-purple in colour, with a taste that is sweet and quite similar to a blueberry preserve. This is a great result for me because my blueberry bushes produced no fruit at all this year, so I’m glad I have discovered the wonders of Aronia Melanocarpa 🙂

PIle_of_oatcakes_served_with_home-made_Aronia_berry_and_apple_jelly_preserve
Scottish berry jelly with oatcakes. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Makes: approx. 650g jelly preserve

Ingredients:

  • 200g aronia berries, washed (small stems are fine if it is difficult to pick the berries without)
  • 400g whole cooking apples, washed
  • Approx. 430g granulated sugar – see method for exact quantities
  1. Put the berries in a large stainless steel saucepan. Chop the apples into small pieces, (skins, core and pips included) and add to the pan along with 350ml water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, mashing occasionally, until very soft and pulpy.
  2. Line a large nylon sieve with muslin and place over a large bowl. Choose a sieve that you’re not too precious about as it may stain blue with the juice. Carefully pour the pulp into the muslin and leave to cool. Leave to strain for at least 3 hours.

    4_steps_to_cooking_aronia_berry_and_apple_jelly
    Preparing the fruit for jelly-making. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  3. Pour the strained juice into a measuring jug, cover and chill until required. Tip the pulp back into a saucepan. Add another 200ml water, and heat, stirring, until back to the boil.
  4. Repeat the straining of the pulp as before, but this time, after cooling, put in the fridge and leave to strain overnight until the pulp is very dry.
  5. Discard the pulp and pour the juice into the jug. I achieved 375ml juice from the first straining, and 200ml from the second. The ratio of sugar to juice is 450g sugar to 600ml juice, so I used 430g for my 575ml.
  6. Pour the juice into a saucepan and heat until steaming. Add the sugar, and stir over a low heat until dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for about 10 minutes. For jelly making, I use a sugar thermometer to gauge the setting point – 104°-105°C- to give the best result.
    6_steps_to_cooking_aronia_berry_and_apple_juice_to_make_jelly_preserve
    Cooking the juice. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

     

  7. Pour into warm, sterilised jam jars and seal immediately. Leave to cool then label and store in the usual way. The jelly will keep fine for at least 6 months. Serve as a sweet preserve or with savoury dishes too.

    A_small_branch_of_ripe_Scottish_Aronia_berries
    Aronia berries, ripe and ready for picking. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

 

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4 thoughts on “Aronia berry and apple jelly (naturally gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

  1. Interesting! I had never heard about aronia berries before, even though I lived in the U.S. for several years. Thank you for sharing the information and the recipe, Kathryn. This jelly looks delicious. Does it retain any of the acidity of the raw berry? I wouldn’t mind: I always add some lemon juice to my blackberry jam to cut down on the sweetness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello there. Now I have made the jelly, next time I will add lemon juice or perhaps cut down on the apple. The tartness has been lost this time. To be honest, I tried some of the juice before I added the sugar and it didn’t taste that tart at all. Perhaps the variety I have growing is not so sour after all.

      Have you had any rain yet? I have sent some down to you after your last post. I have trouble leaving comments on your posts. Did you get my last one on your broccoli recipe? Have a good week. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello again Kathryn, your last comments (I saw that your made several attempts) somehow ended up in my spam box 🤯! I changed the status of the most recent one to « not spam » and hopefully this WordPress quirk won’t repeat itself. I too have had occasional issues with comments, and it seems that the only way around it is to get on internet (not using the app) and log in. Sometimes I can’t even « like » posts on some blogs, but this might be the way their author set them.
        Thank you for sending rain, we had a nice soaking last Wednesday but then the temperatures soared up again to 35°C for two days… so we are back to watering, and waiting for another shipment from Scotland 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for the info on comment posting. I had noticed it was almost impossible to like or comment using the app on my phone; I thought it was just me not being very tech-savvy! Good that you did have some rain but not good that it’s all dried up again so soon. But it’s ok, we still have plenty so I’ll get another shipment organised for you which will hopefully get to you very soon 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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