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.

38 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful, beautifully written post. I didn't know there was a Lilly Pilly tree. The color of your jelly is breathtaking and your instructions letter perfect. I could go on, but I'd risk you thinking me a stalker. Off to research the Lilly Pilly!

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  2. I have never heard about this Lilly Pilly thing thats awesome that you can make jelly out of it and good jelly too! I'm glad you look at my food standards as a good thing,my sister calls me a food snob.

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  3. Hello! I've popped by via a comment you left on my blog - and I have to say that your jelly looks utterly divine. Awesome photos. Isn't the colour exquisite? I've bookmarked your blog :-)

    Cheers, Julie

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  4. I can't tell you how much I enjoy hearing stories about your land. For a few moments, I step out of my city life and into a completely different world. I, too, have never heard of Lilly Pilly, but your jelly looks divine, like jewels in a jar. Lovely post, Mariana.

    Dx

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  5. Ooooooh - that color is gorgeous! Both on the berry and in the jelly. What an intriguing fruit - sounds maybe similar to a cranberry?

    Don't you just love 'free' ingredients?

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  6. Just popped back to say that, never having heard of lilly pilly until I read your wonderful post this morning, I've now come across it twice in the same day! I was just looking at Maggie Beer's gorgeous Maggie's Kitchen and she has a recipe for Camel Scotch Fillet Marinated in Lilly Pilly! You're in very good company it seems.

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  7. oh that just looks delicious!!! Can I have that jam on some of your wonderful scones???? Sounds like you had quite an adventure getting them too.

    Great to see you back and blogging Marianna.

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  8. Mary - I had a little chuckle to see you going off to research the lilly pilly. I believe it is an indigenous Australian native tree. So pleased to hear my instructions were useful. The steps are pretty much the same for making any kind of jelly.

    Baking Monster - there is nothing wrong with being a "food snob". A comment like that makes me wonder more about your sister's food choices than yours.

    Julie - so pleased to have connected with a fellow aussie. Looking up recipes for the lilly pilly actually lead me to your site, so I know you know about this fruit. Yes I was delighted with the colour, glad you thought so too.

    Debora - I'm thrilled to hear you love the "farm" stories. I look forward to bringing you many more because it is such a big part of our lives. Well I must say that Camel Scotch Fillet is a new one! I had to read it a couple of times because at first I thought you mispelt 'caramel'. Crikey. Maggie has really come up with a beauty there. I love her earthiness and her connection with the environment she lives in.

    Chelsea- nice to meet you. Is the cranberry acidic because the lilly pilly sure is? Maybe they are cousins. "Free ingredients" like this are the most satisfying of all so I do agree with you!

    Hi ya Kylie! Yes for the moment I am back. Sounds like you are getting some mileage out of my scone recipe. So pleased to hear Bruno is so fond of it. You are exactly right, Kylie. It was the adventure that I absolutely loved. I almost called this post "from the tree to the table", and it has been most rewarding!

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  9. I've never heard of Lilly Philly. Thank you for sharing...

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  10. Hi, I have just stumbled onto your blog. I have 5 lilly pilly trees in my yard & have been looking forward to making jelly for some time but they haven't produced enough yet -can't wait till they are. Jo

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  11. hi there , just went onto the net to see if there are any recipes for lillypilly jam. My tree is loaded , what a waste if I did'nt do something with them, so after reading your story, her I go... Many thanks.Meryl

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  12. Thankyou for a well written recipe for Lilly Pilly Jelly, i have three trees on our block and i have decided to give it a go, will let you know how it does. Many thanks Fran.

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  13. Wow. thanks Jo, Meryl and Fran. so nice of you to drop in and acknowledge my lilly pilly experience. I would love to know how your efforts turned out. Also I would love to know where you all come from. Cheers Mariana.

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  14. So glad cityhippyfarmgirl introduced me to your blog. I have a tree full of lilly pilly fruit read to go absolutely crazy. Now these wont go to waste. Thanks.

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  15. So pleased you found me Bruise Mouse. Feel free to leave any questions. I've made about five batches of lilly pilly jelly so far, so I have a fair idea of what to do. Good Luck.

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  16. We have 12 Aussie brush cherry trees and I
    Always wondered why the birds ate up the red
    Marbles every Xmas. This year I will fight off the
    Feathered bandits and make the Lilly Pilly jam ;)
    Thanks for your jelly good recipe.
    Ps chutney and vinegar can be made with them too!!!

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  17. I hadn't thought of chutney or vinegar Heather. Infact I haven't even come across a recipe for those either. Must try and locate one.
    Yes, do fight off those birds. Have a go and let me know. How you go that is. If you prefer to use less sugar, then adding three quarters of a cup to one cup of liquid works well. Thanks for dropping in.

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  18. I just picked some lilli pillies on my street with my son today, they are luscious and heavy and plentiful with the recent rains. We are going to make a batch of jelly because we love the color so much although I find the flavor is quite subtle. It's our third batch but I had forgot the recipe so thanks for your post, it's fun to find someone else who gets as much fun out of this fruit as we do. Any time we go past a full tree, we find some good fruit enjoy them raw by sucking out the juice and discarding the rest, I find it resembles an apple flavor.

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  19. Anybody know about the leaves of the Lilly Pilly and if it can be used for anything? My kids have been eating them and they are kind of deliciously spicy!

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  20. wow, except for the aussie jargon, this was really helpful to make jelly with Monterey Brush Cherries (same plant) here in California. Thank so much as I have a whole hedge of this shrub.

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    Replies
    1. Gee thanks for letting me know Patti - we haven't had a proper yield of lilly pillies for two years now. I am missing my lilly pilly jelly terribly. Guess that's what happens when you live with the seasons. Glad I could be of some help. Mariana x

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  21. Hi Marina, I enjoy eating my lilly pillys raw, but the jelly sounds great. Do you add the juice of a lemon per cup of liquid? Or per 500ml of liquid? (I've never made jelly or jam before.) And yes, lovely blog. It's inspiring!

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    1. No no not per cup of liquid - I added it to 500mls of juice; but I wouldn't add any more lemon even if it were a litre of juice. After all the lilly pillies are tart enough.

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    2. I should further add that I've changed the recipe since I first made the original lilly pilly jelly. Instead of using a cup of sugar to a cup of juice I put in 2/3 cup of sugar to 1 cup of juice. I found the sweetness overpowered the lilly pilly flavour so knock back the sugar.

      Also, add the lemon juice to the cooking of the berries instead of to the strained juice. It draws more pectin out of the berries that way. If you do this then eliminate the lemon juice to the cooking of the lilly pilly juice. It's much better this way - unfortunately I learned this down the track making more batches of the jelly. You can adjust to you taste of course. Hope this helps.

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  22. So glad I found this post. I have a Lilli Pilli tree that fruits in abundance and I hate seeing the waste as they fall. My fruit should be ripening around the end of the month and I can't wait to give this a try.
    BTW I tried sun drying some one year and they are delicious. Tiny & a pain to take the seed out but delicious :)

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    1. The seeds are a huge pain - I once made lilly pilly jam and set about removing all the seeds. Never again! And never again will I make the jam. I found it far too wild and intense in flavour. Not nice. But jelly. That's a whole new ballgame and I love it. Thanks for sharing and if you read the above comment I tend to reduce the amount of sugar I use these days.

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  23. Sorry if this sounds absurd, (I don't have much experience in the kitchen) but are you using the water that the berries were boiling in as part of the jam? Or do you drain the berries first and just use what drips out through the muslin? (Also, sorry if this comment appears twice. Not sure if it worked the first time.)
    Thanks,
    Cam

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    Replies
    1. Yes, yes, yes...the water is extracting all the goodies and flavour from out of the berries so ALL the liquid is required to make your jelly.

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  24. jennifer hawkinsApril 6, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    I does'nt say how long to cook the lilly pillies (both cooking times) can you give me a rough estimate please. thank you for the rcipe & help.
    Jenni

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    1. It's a variable thing which is why it's hard to pinpoint cooking times. Cooking the berries the first time - bring to boil and gently simmer for 30-40mins should do it.

      Cooking your strained liquid to make the jelly is entirely dependent on the level of pectin attained and other variables so I can't give you even a rough time. I've stated in this recipe that it only took 10mins, but in other jellies - some have taken 5mins and yet another time it took 30mins.

      You can't walk away from boiling jelly as it can reach setting before you know it - or like a watched pot - it simply keeps going. It's important to learn signs for a set jel and that can only be achieved through trial and error. Good luck.

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  25. We've had a big lilly pilly tree for more than 20 years - tried jam one year - not much good. Have boiled up the leaves for paper printing. Glad to find the jelly recipe. The berries are huge again this year - 20-30 Currajongs have been descending on the tree over the past week and there is still a tonne or two of fruit. Thanks for the post - it's been interesting to read the conversation too.

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  26. I loved reading all the comments. I have wanted to make lilly pilly jelly since attending a native food workshop, but I don't have a lilly pilly tree. There are several around the neighbourhood and no-one seems to pay them any attention. However they only seem to fruit in small quantities. I read a blog that suggested collecting and freezing the small quantities until you have enough for a jelly. Has anyone tried this?

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    1. I only have one small topiary tree, so I pick and freeze little batches until I have enough to make jelly. It's easier to take the stones out before freezing so you don't get chilly pinkies later.

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  27. I use the jelly with star anise, ginger, garlic and orange zest to glaze duck. It's pretty good in a cake and really yummy mixed into the icing with a little Sambuca.

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  28. Hi, just curious, the ankle biters and I picked my first crop of berries and I have had them on the slow boil for 5 hours, they are sooooo not going soft< how long did you say you boiled them for.

    I have been dying to do this jelly.

    NaughtyNanny

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  29. Well, I only had about 30 berries so i adjusted to suit, except cooking time. I think I've got toffee but I did manage to replicate the smell of mum's guava jelly. I think i can use this when the pluggers are back in season.
    Brad

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