May 13, 2009
Lilly Pilly Jelly
I'm chuffed. Really chuffed. There is nothing like good old fashioned work with fruitful reward at the end to make me feel really, really, well; chuffed. For the moment however I shall digress.
Last Sunday it was Mother's Day. Happy wishes from happy kids is all I want. Barr the presents. I'm so over everyone feeling the pressure of giving for the sake of giving. Anyway thanks girls for the beautiful cup and saucer, little bowls and David Gray CD. Next year, hugs, a drink, a little mezze and chatting over the kitchen sink will suffice.
Later that afternoon Hubby took me for a drive out to our property. It was a beautiful, sunny day. He started up the quad and and we meandered our way right up to the top of the farm, stopping to say hello to the cows and bully along the way. Sitting on top of the world up there, we admired the rolling lush green hills and the 'pretty as a picture' landscape.
On our way back we rode over the hills and on our descent he stopped the quad to show me a 'lilly pilly' tree in the distance. Making our way to the tree I had to walk through some pretty long grass, and that always worries me. After all it was only a few months ago that my son nearly stepped on a death adder.
Reaching the tree I was blown away with all the pink 'marbles' of fruit suspended in the air. Hubby remarked he thought they would make a great jam, probably never expecting that I would embark on a mission to find out. And find out, is exactly what I did.
Two days later armed with my gum boots, bucket and mobile phone (to call for help in case that snake gets me), I set about trying to find the tree again. Not as easy as you think when there are literally hundreds of trees dotted on the place. Spotting some cows on a rather steep embankment, I stopped to talk to them, turned my head and there was the lilly pilly tree. Bliss, I found it, now off to do some picking.
I figure all I want is about a kilo or so to experiment with because what is the point of making heaps if it ends up tasting awful. Not long into picking I realised this was gonna take a while cause lots of little 'marbles' are needed to get to my one kilo. The day is gorgeous, the cows are munching, the birds are singing, the bees are buzzing (a little too close actually) and I am feeling really connected to this environment. The shops are the furthest thing from my mind right now and I am really enjoying this fresh air, the sounds of nature and the experience of picking this native fruit straight from the tree.
Scouring through the internet I find some articles that seem to recommend making jelly rather than jam with the lilly pilly. That's fine by me, after all who wants to be deseeding all this miniature fruit; it took long enough just to pick it. Jelly it is.
The fruit taste very distinctive, slightly tart and very little flesh to it, but I rather like it. This may be promising. I admire the rosy, pink fruit. It is a beautiful colour actually. I feel a little excited.
It's a bit finicky but the fruit really needs to be clean; so a few rinses in water is required along with time to remove any remaining stalks, bits clinging to the fruit and checking for spoilt ones. Quite a bit of time to be honest. Place the fruit in a pot, stainless steel is best, and pour in enough water till the fruit is just covered. Bring to the boil and then cook till the fruit is soft and stripped of all the colour.
Take a colander and line it with some muslin that has been well rinsed in super hot water. Place this over a container to catch the juice from the fruit. Pour in the cooked fruit. It is imperative to not squeeze the fruit at any time otherwise your final product may have a cloudy appearance. Tie the muslin onto a strong support and suspend it directly over the container. Leave overnight.
The muslin will be heavily stained with that stunning rosy pink colour but do not discard. It washes out and can be used again for other preserves.
The liquid from the lilly pilly should be a gorgeous deep pink colour.
Now the cooking of the jelly can commence. Measure out the liquid; for every cup of liquid you will need a cup of sugar. I had almost 500mls of liquid so I added 500gms of sugar. To this put in the juice of one lemon and bring to the boil. Stir slowly; when all the sugar has dissolved; refrain from any further stirring. I had quite a bit of scum developing so I skimmed that from the sides during cooking. Test for the setting of the jelly. Place a saucer into the freezer; place a drop onto the cold saucer and if when you press into it there is no runniness then you will have achieved a good setting. Otherwise lift some with a utensil and see how set it looks.
I was absolutely delighted with the setting and it only took about ten minutes after I brought it to boil, so not long at all. Beware though because the size of the pot you use makes a difference to the overall time. My pot was really large. My gosh, this looks absolutely perfect to me. I'm really, really pleased.
I have a little taste preview and I find it tangy but not at all bitter. It has a real depth of flavour; but I find I cannot compare it to anything. Hang on, maybe a little 'berry' like. If this is what lilly pilly is meant to taste like then thumbs up for me. I'm happy.
Wash some jars and lids in very hot water. Place them standing upwards in an oven on a low temperature till they are hottish and there is no sign of water clinging to them. You have to make sure they are ready to go because once the jelly is cooked to the correct consistency you need to pour it into the jars immediately. You may prefer to seal straight away, however I allowed mine to cool a little before lidding.
I look forward to my cup of tea with some fresh pasta dura bread, butter and home made lilly pilly jelly. Oh my gosh. It is just gorgeous. Just a few days ago I didn't even know that tree existed and here I am today enjoying the lovely treats that this native lilly pilly tree has offered me. I will be back for more of it's fruit to make some more of this new taste sensation.
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed creating it. For some reason I feel really satisfied and particularly chuffed.
Update: Check out my latest post of another lilly pilly I discovered at the farm. From this I made a purple cherry jelly and I'm very happy with it.