Thursday, September 29, 2016

Quondong Jelly

After steady and frequent winter rains the country here looks magnificent. Although faded now, the carpets of wildflowers were spectacular in July and August. It's such a privilege to watch the desert bloom at close quarters, and it's years like this that help us get through the droughts.

White pom pom everlastings
The whitish bits are carpets of flowers which were
prolific along the Greenough River plains

Pink daisies growing in the the wash country

The flowers may have finished blooming but there is still plenty to admire in the bush, including the vibrant fruit of the quandong trees. The tree pictured below was laden and I decided to pick some fruit and experiment with making jelly from it.


To play a little on the safe side I combined the quondong fruit with a few apples, thinking that they would bulk out the quongdongs and hopefully give a better chance of the jelly setting, as well as adding a nice flavour. 

I'm happy to report that the jelly turned out beautifully; deeply pink and delicious....although it's hard to describe the flavour! Suffice to say that its very pleasant, not particularly strong or perfumey. I think it will be equally yummy on scones with cream or as an accompaniment to lamb roast. I will definitely have to go and pick some more quondongs to make some unique Christmas presents!

I know hardly anyone will make it (probably no-one!) but here's the recipe just in case:

Quondong Jelly

1 hatful of fresh quondongs (or an ice-cream container if you must!)
3 crisp apples
A few sprigs of thyme (optional)

Peel the fruit from the quondong nut and wash well to remove traces of insect activity  (reserve the nut for snacking on, although you will need a heavy duty nut cracker to extract them!)
Roughly chop the fruit and place in medium sized saucepan. Chop apples, including skin, pips and core, and place in pot with quondong fruit. Add thyme if using. Just cover fruit with water. Place on stove and boil until the fruit is very mushy - approx 40mins.
Sit a colander over a bowl and line with muslin, cheesecloth or an old cotton tea towel. Pour fruit pulp into the colander and leave to sit on the kitchen bench for 8 hrs or overnight to drain. Don't press the fruit or you will have cloudy jelly.  
Measure the liquid collected in the bowl. Place into a saucepan and bring to boil. When boiling add an equal measure of sugar to the pan. e.g. 400ml of juice = 400ml of sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved then leave to boil quite rapidly until the jelly reaches setting point. (mine was ready when it reached 104.5 deg celsius) Skim any whitish residue off the surface. Pour into clean, sterilised jars. Pop a little sprig of fresh thyme in the top of the jelly and put the lids on while hot. 

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