I had a short bout with jelly years ago, bravely stepping into the ongoing bird-feast that was our rowan berry trees, fighting off the feathery party while trying to get ahold of two pounds of rowan berries before the birds ate them all in a delirious six day-long noisy binge that started shortly before the crack of dawn and kept going until the dark settled itself over the plains of Västergötland, Sweden.
I also made jalapeno jelly once, being lured in by the thought of devouring it with crackers and brie. While the jelly itself tasted lovely, according to the one who ate it, the process of boiling jalapenos together with sugar and vinegar for an hour made my then-husband flee our home two hours early for work because he couldn't stand the smell of rotting sports socks. I bravely stood my ground only because I'd already started the whole thing, I couldn't just give up in the middle of it even though I really, really, really wanted to.
So yeah it smelled equally bad this time. But it tastes good!
Rowan trees before the feasting
Now, rowan berries grow on trees and get eaten by birds at such a rate that their oncoming doom doesn't bother me really, but lately, I've found myself staring out of my window onto three shrubs lighting up in red, feeling the angst of having edible stuff go bad on me. Between our residential garden and the cottage's, we have six shrubs of red currants, and three with black currants, all intensely yeildy.
On top of that, we were three brave souls who tried BBQing and tasting three of the 60 Padron chilies we've been growing, and all three BURNED OUR FACES OFF. "One in ten is hot so beware!" my ass! I'm no stranger to heat, but those little green fuckers packed a punch. My gums stung for 10 minutes afterward. Clearly not edible as is or even with cream cheese, we had to do something else with them. We have jalapenos maturing too. Everything at once!
Now, I know that this is the way it works. No yield, nothing, nope, not yet, not quite, OKAY NOW ALL THE THINGS. That knowledge didn't stop me from becoming overcome with edibles and not having a real clue what to make out of them. A bunch of sweet cherries ended up in the freezer, and a bag of red currants joined them.
So what the hell do we do now?
Well, we make jelly. Lots of it. Lots and lots of it.
I mean, my 98% vegetarian stature knows that currant jellies go best with a roast, potatoes and a creamy sauce, but I'm doing it anyway. Firstly because it's necessary not to spoil everything out in the garden, and secondly because making jelly is SO. MUCH. FUN.
I can't explain it. Pick berries for hours, unknowingly stick your hands into spider's nests and have to brush off earwigs, boil the berries and then juice the mess and then tip two pounds of sugar into the juice and let it boil, skim endlessly and make all these awkward steps of sterilizing jars and making sure there's a vacuum in said jars and hope it's not all gonna spoil because you're terrible at sterilizing stuff as a newbie, having sticky jelly everywhere and your socks stick to the kitchen floor in the same spot for days because sugar is terrible to drop on the floor but then just look at the jars of semi-clear jelly (because I can't help myself but to squeeze the pulp, hee hee) and feel so content with your doing. Like you've been working magic when it's all mostly just you doing the same thing as any housewife like, ever.
Even A, who spent a traumatizing amount of time picking berries from the very same bushes as a teenager on the demand of his mother, willingly joined in and reflected on the soothing, therapeutic nature of the activity.
So we're making jelly. Red currant jelly, black currant jelly, rowan berry jelly, jalapeno, and padron chili jelly, you name it. When the time is right, I'm even gonna make champagne jelly because I've wanted to try it out for so long! And glögg jelly for that Christmassy trifle. And cola jelly! And... If you don’t hear from me again, I’m stuck to the kitchen floor.
Recipes used lately, with tweaks: