We have a gorgeous Mountain Ash tree in our front yard. Knowing the berries are [technically] edible, I've had Mountain Ash preserves on my to-do list for a while.
The Mountain Ash berry is also referred to as the Rowanberry. There are very few recipes for jelly using this berry out there. Most are from over seas and the comment sections are full of "Are you joking?" remarks. Well, I stubbornly persisted! But added plum to mine to cut the anticipated bitterness.
Mountain Ash berries are totally inedible off the tree. Intensely bitter. People brave enough to make this jelly talk about their repulsion of the fresh berry, but don't say much about the taste of the jelly other than the common saying that it "goes well with wild game."
So I made the jelly and planned to eat it with venison. This was my first time making a clear strained jelly. I've been more into struggling with rustic jams with not a lot of raging success. Mountain Ash berries have a lot of pectin so all you have to do is cook it in water, strain it, and cook it again with sugar.
The texture of this jelly turned out perfectly which made me proud. The taste, well...it's acquired, let's say, and not with ease. And I'm a lover of Marmite, if that gives you a clue. My least favorite way of consuming it so far has been on that venison I mentioned. Blech. But I will keep at it, adding it to salad dressing maybe or who knows. It's not awful. I ate the little bite of fresh bread with Mountain Ash jelly pictured here. Chewed it and swallowed and everything!
They say if you haven't had a frost yet, put your berries in the freezer and they'll develop more sweetness that way. I also added some spices to mine, a very subtle amount, and added salt to cut the bitterness. And my recipe uses less sugar than others because that's how I prefer my preserves, but up to a cup of sugar per cup of liquid should be ok if you like.
Mountain Ash Plum Jelly
Put into a large pot and cover completely with water:
4 parts Mountain Ash berries, cleaned of stems
3 parts plum, cut into chunks
Add 2 tablespoons mulling spices (in a mesh spice bag or stapled into a coffee filter pouch) and one cinnamon stick.
Bring to a boil and boil gently for 15 minutes, then remove your spices. Continue cooking for 5 or 10 minutes more or until the fruit is falling apart. Mash it up a little to loosen the pulp.
Pour the whole mess into a clean white pillowcase which is suspended over a large bowl. Let it drain for a couple hours.
Pour the liquid into a clean cooking pot. For each cup of liquid, add 3/4 cup sugar. Add 1.5 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming the foam out here and there, until the temperature reaches 230 degrees on a digital thermometer. Test a little bit of the hot liquid by putting a little spoon of it in the freezer for a minute. Take your pot off the heat when you do this. It's ready when the freezer test comes out jelly-like.
Pour hot liquid into jars that have just been boiled in water. Place the lids on (also just boiled) and put the hot jars onto a sheet pan and straight into the oven. Turn the oven on to 350F and leave until the oven is preheated. Turn off the oven once it's preheated but do not open the door! Leave them in the oven overnight and in the morning they should be sealed. If not, keep them in the fridge.
If you hate the jelly don't say I didn't warn you! Maybe you will love it? Enjoy!