Greengage jelly, full of plummy flavour, scented with rosemary and with a hint of heat is a perfect and unusual condiment.
What are greengages?
Greengage jelly is not a very common condiment because greengages are thought to be less worthy fruit. Second cousins to plums, poor relations of damsons, they are in addition commonly confused with quinces, an even less appreciated fruit.
What do greengages taste like?
Greengage is even named unappealingly: there are no redgages as far as I know, nor are plums called purpleplums. It looks sour, unripe and not very noteworthy. And yet – of course there was going to be ‘and yet’, there always is - it is a surprisingly sweet and mellow fruit, easily turned into jam or jelly, which I went for.
Looking for a condiment rather than jam of which I already had a cupboardful, I thought I’d make something closer to redcurrant jelly than to strawberry conserve. And I just love making jelly.
How to make jelly?
It does help if you cough up a few quid for the jelly making kit which is basically scaffolding for a muslin bag to hang over a bowl. But you could try and build your own contraption. Tying the ends of a muslin cloth to a wire rack placed over a tall container will do the trick.
Jelly is made by dripping juice slowly and leisurely, though it beats me why you can’t just squeeze the juice out straight away, by passing the fruit through a sieve or milling it in a food mill.
The key benefit gained through dripping is clarity; if you press the juice it will be cloudy, with bits or puree suspended in the liquid. What’s wrong with it? Nothing, but aesthetics in food will not be argued with.
To squeeze or not to squeeze?
I dripped my juice but then the scrimp in me made me squeeze the bag for the last drops, so my jelly turned out slightly murky. Not that it affected the taste which is gorgeous: plummy, both in the literal as well as metaphorical sense, with a hint of heat from the chillies and the divine rosemary fragrance.
Rosemary is so good with fruit I’m amazed sprigs aren’t commonly stuck into jars of jam.
Greengage jelly - what is it good for?
The jelly is perfect for roast lamb, that’s obvious, but it’s also good with other meats, fish, with cheese or as a je-ne-sais-quoi added to sauces and gravies. It will go wherever redcurrant jelly would go. Or sweet chilli sauce. Or chutney. Or ketchup – okay, maybe not but it is still a fantastic versatile condiment totally worth making.