The Hairst

[Title inspired by a you-tube  of a kirk minister in Inverurie giving a sermon on ‘The Hairst’ – or harvest – in broad Doric – like a scene from Sunset Song, except they wouldn’t have had women in the pulpit in those days.]

p1020709So there we were on Sunday night dressing the church hall floor for a wee Taize event. We met the main dresser by chance in the street outside and I was given a massive branch of hawthorn to carry in – it was like Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane. I also had to read out a poem by Elizabeth Barratt Browning – ‘The Autumn’ – which I found pretty moving. We had a good evening, and then I was given a bag of mixed windfall apples to take home.

p1020713Before going on to the jelly-making, I just want to show you these gourmet tatties – ‘Shetland Blacks’, apparently – when boiled, the skins go purple and the surrounding water goes turquoise. I haven’t witnessed this myself because there were only three and they weren’t on offer! Will be pleased to hear from anyone who has sampled same.

So – making apples into jelly is a great idea for loads of reasons, but one of the best is that you don’t have to peel the wee buggers, you just give them a good wash and chop them up a bit, and simmer to a mush. That was yesterday, and I rigged up a pillowcase dangling from a kitchen stool at work to let it drip overnight. Today I boiled them up and made the jelly – as before, using the probe thermometer and boiling to 105 degrees. Brilliant. I wish I’d learned to use the technology years ago, and save myself from making all those jars of toffee …

The set on my jelly is great, the flavour is lovely, the colour is a little pale – apparently the p1020723best colour comes from crab apples but I don’t think my collection contained any of those. However I didn’t clear the scum off the top properly, thinking it would just sink or rise or magically disappear in some other helpful way – it didn’t. It lurks in the jars in whitish streaks, so it’s just as well I’m not planning to enter it for a competition. Next time I will be more careful. I’m telling you this so that you don’t make the same mistake! Skim carefully, my friends, and your jelly may well be perfect.