‘Cheese’ is an old-fashioned English name for a seedless, soft-set, concentrated fruit jelly. Being lower in sugar than jam, fruit cheese doesn’t keep as long, but is quicker to make and therefore worth undertaking in smaller quantities. Delicious in scones with clotted cream, in jam tarts, sandwiched in a sponge cake or just spread on your breakfast toast, this is especially good for anyone who isn’t overly fond of the blackberry’s large seeds.
- 500g blackberries, rinsed and drained
- 125ml freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 large orange’s worth)
- 325g granulated sugar
- Put a heatproof saucer in the freezer to chill.
- In a medium-sized, non-reactive pan, bring the berries and orange juice gradually to the boil over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time. Simmer for 15–20 minutes, until the fruit is very soft and the liquid has reduced slightly.
- Pass the pulp and juices through a fine sieve (or even better, through a mouli* and then a sieve). Rinse out the pan, and pour in the strained fruit. Add the sugar, and set the pan back over a low heat.
- Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar, and simmer until the mixture is slightly thickened and coats the spoon. It is important not to boil the fruit for too long or you will end up with something very sticky and stiff, so after about 5 minutes of boiling it’s a good idea to test the cheese for a ‘set’. To do this, take the pan off the heat and remove the chilled saucer from the freezer. Drop about a teaspoonful of cheese onto the saucer. After a few seconds, drag your finger through the puddle – if its surface wrinkles and does not run back into the pathway made by your finger, then the cheese is ready. If it is still runny, return the pan to the heat and saucer to the freezer and test again in three minutes.
- When the cheese is ready, pour it into sterilised jars and put on the lids. Stored in the refrigerator, the cheese will keep for up to a month.
*A mouli is a hand-cranked food mill, which simultaneously purées and strains as you rotate the handle. It’s an excellent bit of kit for anyone intending to process large quantities of seeded fruit in the making of ketchups, jellies, cheeses, curds and the like. As well making short work of removing pips and fibrous matter, a mouli is much more effective at extracting every last drop of pulp than by spoon and sieve alone.