A spoonful of autumn
Salt Sugar Smoke, the new book by hugely talented London based food writer Diana Henry has me dreaming of being in Britain for the autumn. Her recipes and engaging annotations for preserving fruit (as well as vegetables, fish and meat) provoke fantasies of stirring jams in copper pots and pouring jellies into Kilner jars in a cosy, range stoved kitchen…But back in Hong Kong here’s one recipe (and there are several more in the book) with a flavour of the East. Over to you Diana…
Quince and star anise jelly
Smoky and autumnal with just a whiff of anise, this is delicious with ham, pork, duck or pheasant. Don’t use any more star anise than suggested or it will taste medicinal. It might seem a hassle to cook the fruit twice, but it really does help extract more juice. The jelly is a wonderful glowing russet colour.
Makes 1 x 500g (1lb 2oz) jar
1.8kg (4lb) quinces, washed
2 cooking apples, washed
finely grated zest and juice of 3 unwaxed lemons
about 500g (1lb 2oz) granulated sugar
2 star anise
1 Chop the fruit roughly into big chunks (no need to peel or core) and put into a preserving pan or a
large saucepan with 2.5 litres (4½ pints) of water and the lemon zest and juice. Bring to a boil, then
reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for one hour (you can use a double thickness of foil, wrapped
well over the top, if you are using a preserving pan, as they don’t come with lids).
2 Stir from time to time to ensure that the fruit doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. The liquid
shouldn’t reduce too much, so add some more if needed. When the fruit is completely soft and
mushy, leave to cool a little. Spoon the pulp into a jelly bag suspended over a large bowl and leave to
drain overnight. Keep the resulting liquid and put it in the refrigerator.
3 Put the pulp from the jelly bag into a saucepan and add 1 litre (1¾ pints) of water. Bring to a
boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Again, strain this through a jelly bag
overnight. Discard the pulp from the jelly bag and measure the new liquid plus the liquid which you
refrigerated the previous day. For every 600ml (1 pint) of juice add 450g (1lb) of sugar and put both
into a preserving pan.
4 Tie the star anise in a bit of muslin. Now hit it with a rolling pin to break the spice up. Put it in the
pan too. Heat gently, stirring from time to time to help the sugar dissolve, then boil it for 10 minutes
or until setting point is reached (check on a sugar thermometer and do the wrinkle test, see page 11).
Skim off any scum and lift out the muslin bag of star anise.
5 Pot in warm, dry sterilized jars and cover with waxed paper discs. You can add a star anise to each
pot, but it is more for decoration than flavour. Seal. This keeps for a year; refrigerate once opened.
Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry is available on Amazon: