Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Feijoa Forays - It's Jelly, Baby.

For all my many, um, decades... (cough, cough - now I feel old!) of preserving, one area I haven't forayed into much is jelly. Loads of jam - jam up the wazoo! - but not much jelly. Mostly because trying to find a pan deep enough to hang the jelly bag in, or a place to hang it from to get a bowl underneath, was pretty much a no-go in my kitchen.
However, I have recently found someplace where I can get crab apples, which will be ready to pick in a couple of weeks, and my neighbour has a tree full of persimmons no-one else wants - both of these being premier jelly-making fruits - so I finally relented and bought a commercially made jelly bag. OMG, I wish I had relented years ago! Not that it would have done much good - things like this haven't been available here in NZ until recently, But Oh Mamma, it makes jelly-making a breeze!
It is not so much the bag itself, but the wonderful little stand it attaches to, that I'm over the moon about. A faaabulous (as the gay guy across the road says - yes he really does talk like that, but he does it on purpose - lol) sturdy little contraption, with folding legs, that has little hooky-type feet which enable it to sit perched over pretty much any bowl or pan.

It was while browsing the Mad Millie site that I saw the jelly bag. They are a wonderful little company specialising in preserving equipment and artisan food kits (cheese making and cider making particularly). It is only since they have come on the market that I have finally been able to upgrade my kitchen with all the hardware goodies to make my preserving life easier - having the right equipment really makes a difference. The jelly bag arrived yesterday afternoon by courier, so I figured I had better get some practice in, in preparation for the butt-load of jelly-making fruit that would soon overwhelm my kitchen.
Feijoa season is really short - it one of those fruits that all come ripe pretty much at the same time and goes rotten really fast - and it is coming to an end, but I figured there were probably a few stray late fruits on the driveway across the road, and on the pavement in front of the house at the end of the block, so off I toddled, in my fluffy purple socks and Heavy Metal hoodie, the urban forager.
Feijoas are quite tart, which make them great for jam, but they are very fiddly to do jam making with. The skin is high in pectin, but is quite bitter, so can't be left on for jam, which means careful peeling of a small, squishy fruit. And they really do need to be peeled rather than just cut and scooped out, to try to get as much of the fruit just under the skin as possible, for the pectin content. Did I mention  - fiddly? But for jelly they are perfect. Since no actual fruit is left after straining, the bitterness doesn't really come thru, the flavour is so much more intense - and of course the pectin content is thru the roof, so it sets beautifully. Just cut them in half, cover with water, and simmer. So easy! Then mash it with a potato masher, plop the whole mess in the jelly bag, and viola! a few hours later, a lovely bowl of syrupy-consistency juice. I am SO going to enjoy doing the persimmon and the crab apple jellies!

Feijoa Jelly

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