Bletting and Serviceberry Marmalade

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There was frost on the ground today, I know because my dog tried to eat it.

Some of the medieval fruit we want to use is picked this fruit after the first frost, and then let it further ripen, or rot, called ‘bletting’. Medlars, serviceberries, and quinces are excellent examples of these.

Quinces need to have brown spots on the skins or they will be too hard to eat after simmering them for 4 hours. Its very frustrating.

Medlars, if you are lucky enough to find them, are so rotten they are squish and taste slightly alcoholic.

Serviceberries, also called rowan berries, need to be cooked to get rid of the sorbic acid that makes it inedible raw and unripe.

Once you have over ripe fruit it is perfect for making marmalade.

For ease of understanding the following recipe:
* Damsons, are a type of plum.
* Wardens are a type of pear.
* Checkers and servits are a type of rowan berry.

To Make Marmalade of Service Berries and Apples
TAke damsins which are ripe, boyle them on the fyre with a little fayre water tyll they
bee softe, then draw them through a course boulter as ye make a tart set it on the fyre
agayne seethe it on height with sufficient suger, as you do your quinces, dash it with
sweete water & and box it. If you wil make it of prunes, euen likewise doo put some apples also to it, as you dyd to your quinces. This wise you may make marmylade of wardens, peares, apples, & medlars, servits or checkers, strawberrys every one by him selfe, or els mixt it together, as you thick good.  John Partridge, The Treasurie of commodious Conceits (1573)

Ingredients
* 2 cups rowan berries, picked over
* 2 cups apples, cored, and coarsely chopped
*  2.5 cups raw cane sugar
Directions
1) Place berries and enough water to cover in a sauce sauce pan, and then simmer on medium-high, until fruit softens, approximately 20 minutes.
2) Strain fruit in fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Squish the fruit to get all the juice out. [Modern recipes say not to do this, it will make jelly cloudy.]
3) Mix sugar and juice together in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
4) Pour in a sterilized jar, cover and store in a cool, dry dark place.

 

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5 thoughts on “Bletting and Serviceberry Marmalade

  1. siglindesarts

    I’m surprised serviceberries need bletting, as they are harvested in June, at least the kind found in Canada (also known as June berry and Saskatoon berry).

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    • No. Rowan/Service berries are bright orange sour berry that’s inedible until cooked. Saskatoon /Service berry aren’t as common in England, although plausibility still available pre-1600, and are a purple pulpy sweet fruit that tastes like orgasims fresh from bush.

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  2. Vandy Simpson (DARC)

    Interesting. I had never heard of a link between serviceberries and rowanberries before, especially of different Genus. (Genuses? Genii?) I wonder which berries were really used in the locale and time. When I have used rowans, I’ve put them to soak in several changes of water, outside in the cold, to make them edible. Definitely high oectin content though, hence that cloudiness. But made such pretty jelly!

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    • There is a story about them being along the good, but less used foot paths, and they provided service by showing direction. I have no idea of the validity.

      The orange-almost pink of the jelly is lovely.

      Like

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