Using sloes and bullaces in English traditional cooking
I posted previously a traditional sloe gin recipe, along with details of sloes, bullaces, and when to pick them. That article can be found here: Sloe gin recipe
But making sloe gin isn’t the only option for these freebies from the hedgerows. Another traditional, and wonderful, recipe is sloe jelly.
This article tells you how to make delicious, tart hedgerow jelly from your sloes or bullaces.
Sloe jelly not jam
Making sloe jam would be terribly fiddly – each small berry has a large stone, and getting all those stones out of the fruit would be tedious.
Sloe jelly, on the other hand, is very easy to make, and tastes gorgeous. It’s much less sweet than most jams or jellies, because of the tart nature of sloes.
Sloes alone would be far too astringant, so sloe jelly is made from both sloes and apples. Windfalls or apples which are bruised or damaged in some way are perfect – just cut out any bruises or wasp holes, and use the rest.
Making jelly is a great pleasure, whether from sloes, bullaces, or any other fruit.
There is an article here about how to how to make jelly in general – what equipment you need, what you don’t, and how to make sure your jelly sets.
Sloe jelly recipe
4lb of apples
3/4lb of sloes (or 1 1/4lb of bullaces)
Wash all the fruit carefully, and chop the apples and lemons into chunks, which don’t need to be fine.
Put the apples and lemons in one pan, and add enough water to cover the fruit.
Bring to the boil, and then simmer for approximately 90 minutes, or until the fruit is thoroughly pulpy.
Put the sloes in another pan, also cover with water, and cook until pulpy.
Spoon your fruity mixture into the jelly bag or muslin-covered sieve, and leave overnight, or for several hours.
Take both lots of juice, and put it back in a big pan, with 1lb of sugar for every pint of juice. Heat gently, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
The reason I keep the juices separate at this stage is because sloes, bullaces and apples all vary in sweetness.
The above quantities are an approximate of what I’ve found tastes good in jelly, but I prefer to mix the sloe sugary juice in with the apple gradually, and taste it to find a good balance of flavours.
Once you have the right mixture, boil for approximately 10 minutes, then test for set.
And voila! Beautiful, richly ruby-red sloe jelly!