For this romantic jelly, you need a garden of full-blown pink or red roses, their petals about to fall, together with a tree of sour apples. Luckily, these demands can be simplified, as the recipe proceeds in two parts: first comes a jelly made with little crab apples (the sour apples used to make cider), then the rose petals are added and the jelly is boiled again to the jell point. Work can be minimized if you substitute a larger tart apple such as Granny Smith, or use ready-prepared apple jelly (you will need about 2 pounds/1 liter). Then all you must pick are the roses, the more fragrant the better. A golden pink, elusively fragrant jelly will be your reward.

Makes four 1 cup/250 ml jars

Apple Jelly

  • 3 pounds/1.35 kg very tart apples
  • About 2 cups/400 g sugar
  • 2 quarts/2 liters packed rose petals
  • 3 cups/750 ml boiling water, more if needed
  • 1 cup/200 g sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Preserving pan, jelly bag, four 1-cup/250-ml jelly jars

For the jelly, scrub the apples, especially at the blossom ends, and discard the stems. Quarter the fruits (skins and cores will add pectin to help set the jelly) and put in the preserving pan.  Add water to cover barely. Bring to a boil and then simmer over low heat, without stirring, until the apples are very soft and falling apart, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their ripeness.

When the apples are done, take the pan from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Spoon the fruit and juice into a jelly bag, or a colander lined with several layers of cheesecloth, set over a bowl. Do not press on the fruit, so the juice can drip slowly into the bowl without clouding. Leave undisturbed until the dripping stops, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, sterilize the jelly jars. Nip the white tips from the rose petals, discarding the tips. Put the petals in a large bowl and pour in the boiling water, just to cover. Cover and let steep until cool. The color of the petals will be drawn into the water. Set aside.

Measure the apple juice. There will be about 2 cups/500 ml. For every 1 cup/250 ml, measure 3/4 cup/150 g sugar and stir it into the juice in the preserving pan. Bring the juice slowly to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Boil over high heat, skimming often, until the jelly reaches the jell point, 15 to 20 minutes. Characteristic double drips will fall from the spoon, and the temperature should register 220˚F/105˚C on a sugar thermometer. Let the jelly cool for 5 minutes.

Stir in the rose petals and their liquid, with the 1 cup/200 g sugar and the lemon juice. Heat again until the sugar dissolves, bring the jelly back to a boil, and continue boiling over high heat, stirring often, until it reaches the jell point again, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Let the jelly cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer it to a heatproof measuring jug, pour into the sterilized jars, and seal. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

by Anne Willan, Chronicle Books, 2007.