CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Dorset Magazine today CLICK HERE

Spiced elderberry and apple jelly - recipe

PUBLISHED: 16:48 13 October 2015 | UPDATED: 16:48 13 October 2015

Freshly picked ingredients (Photo by Lisa Osman)

Freshly picked ingredients (Photo by Lisa Osman)


Lisa Osman creates a fabulous spiced jelly that showcases two classic English autumn fruits

An autumnal jelly made with the gem-like fruits of the elder is the perfect accompaniment for game dishes. According to The Woodland Trust, the elder takes its name from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘aeld’ translated as ‘fire’, as hollow stems of young branches were used to blow air into the centre of the flames. Planted close to your doorway this tree is said to keep the devil away, but unfortunately this does not work with my larder. As soon as my back is turned jars of elderberry jelly mysteriously disappear - the only evidence is sticky mitts and jelly-stained chops!

When picking, leave some berries on the tree for wildlife. Use scissors to snip the stems of each umbel (berry cluster). Once home, remove the berries by holding the stem of an umbel in one hand and use the prongs of a dinner fork to push the berries from the stalks. Rich in vitamin C, the sour tasting elderberries are toxic when raw and should always be cooked before eating. 


• 900g Bramley apples - washed but not peeled or cored, cut into quarters with any bruising removed

• 450g elderberries - washed and removed from stalks

• 900ml water

• 1 cinnamon stick and 5 cloves tied in muslin

• Granulated cane sugar (450g sugar for every 600ml of liquid)

• Equipment: preserving pan, muslin or jelly bags, some sterilised jam jars (recycled are fine, just buy new lids online or from a cook shop) 


1 Put the fruit, the spices bag and water into your preserving pan. Place the pan on the boiling plate or conventional hob. Bring to the boil and then transfer to the simmering plate of your AGA or reduce the heat on your hob, gently cooking the fruit until soft.

2 Using the back of a wooden spoon crush the fruit to extract the juice. Transfer the pan to the AGA simmering oven or continue cooking on your hob until you have achieved a soft pulp. Discard the bag of spices.

3 Place the pulp in a jelly bag or muslin tied with string, and suspend this over a large jug or bowl allowing the juice to drip steadily. Don’t be tempted to squeeze the bag, you are aiming for a crystal clear liquid not a cloudy sludge! Leave the suspended bag to slowly drip in a cool place overnight.

4 The next day, measure the beautiful clear juice and allow 450g cane sugar for every 600ml of liquid.

5 Pour the juice into a clean preserving pan, add the sugar and place on the simmering plate or over a low heat on your conventional hob. Stir gently to dissolve the sugar, then transfer to the boiling plate, or increase the heat to bring to the boil, until setting point has been reached (see Cooks’ Tips). If necessary skim the jelly at this point; then pour into sterilised jars and seal straight away, or cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and allow to cool completely before sealing.

Cook’s tips

• To sterilise jars: Use the hottest wash on your dishwasher cycle or hand wash and place in the AGA simmering oven, or at 120°C, for 20 minutes until completely dry.

• To test jelly for setting: If you are using a sugar thermometer the jelly needs to reach 105°C.

• Flake test: Use a clean wooden spoon to stir the jelly until well coated, hold the spoon above the jelly and see if a flake appears. This should not drop off the spoon until you shake it.

• Saucer test: Simplest of all drop a teaspoon of jelly onto a cold saucer (chilled in the fridge). Once it cools see if the jelly wrinkles when pushed with your finger.


10 great places for food & drink in Wimborne Minster - restaurants, shops, cafés and more - Wimborne Minster is so much more than a gorgeous historic market town. It is also home to some of the best food and drink in Dorset and with this in mind Sue Quinn shares some of her favourite gourmet haunts

Ventana Grand Café at The Cumberland - restaurant review - John Billington enjoys a delicious locally sourced dinner, with well matched wines, in elegant Art Deco surroundings by the sea


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Dorset visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Dorset staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Dorset account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Food & Drink

Step back into the kitchen between Christmas and New Year and cook for pleasure with these warming winter recipes from Gill Meller’s latest book Time

Read more
Friday, November 9, 2018

Roaring open fires, hidden nooks and crannies and huge comfy armchairs are all signature traits of a cosy pub – and Dorset has cosy pubs aplenty. Here are just some of the best inns to snuggle up in this winter

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

The Crown Hotel at Blandford Forum offers wonderful riverside walks, stylish bedrooms, deeply satisfying suppers and even a dandy highwayman

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

When Friday night arrives you can’t beat a traditional fish supper from the local chippy. With some help from our readers and in no particular order, we pick eight great ‘plaices’ for fish and chips in Dorset

Read more
Friday, October 12, 2018

From farmhouse to country house, tea room to hotel Sue Quinn leaves no crumb untested as she seeks out some of the finest cream teas in the county

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

Sunday afternoons are made for lazing in a cosy pub, beer in hand and an overflowing plate of delicious roast dinner on the table. We pick 10 great places for Sunday lunch in Dorset

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

Fanny Charles is impressed by her lunch at Seasons at The Eastbury

Read more
Friday, September 28, 2018

Here are our Dorset Food, Drink and Farming winners for 2018; nominated and voted for by you

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

You can’t beat a pub lunch after a scenic country walk with your four-legged friend. In no particular order, we pick some of the best dog friendly pubs in Dorset

Read more
Monday, September 3, 2018

Robert Ndungu, Head Chef of the award-winning pub The Acorn in Evershot, reveals what is making his tastebuds tingle as summer gives way to autumn

Read more
Monday, August 20, 2018

We are delighted to announce our 2018 finalists

Read more
Monday, July 23, 2018

Asian flavours combine with seasonal Dorset ingredients at The Ollerod - an exciting new relaxed dining venture in the heart of Beaminster

Read more
Friday, July 20, 2018

From creamy classics to inspiring new flavours of gelato, Dorset is home to some of the best ice cream parlours in the south west. With some help from our readers, we pick eight great places to indulge in a scoop this summer

Read more
Monday, July 16, 2018

Kieran Perree, scallop diver and Golden Scallop founder shares his recipe for pan fried Lyme Bay scallops

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search