By Evan Swigart

This jelly is great with meat and perfect for perking up Christmas or Thanksgiving leftovers, and also makes great gourmet Christmas gifts to give to friends.

It has a real 'winter warmer' feel and makes a wonderful Gourmet Christmas gift for food lovers. With its vivid pink red color, and the star anise in each jar, it even looks festive.

Things You Will Need

  1. 1.5kg (3.5 lbs) cooking apples
  2. 700g (1.5lbs) fresh or frozen cranberries
  3. 600ml strong red wine
  4. 11/2 tbsp cloves
  5. 4 small cinnamon sticks
  6. 4 star anise, plus 12 star anise, to decorate
  7. Zest and juice of 2 oranges
  8. Granulated sugar - 450g (1 cup) to every 600ml juice

Step 1

Chop and core the unpeeled apples, cutting away any bruised parts. Place in a large, deep pan with the cranberries, 1.75 liters water, the wine, cloves, cinnamon sticks, 4 star anise, orange zest and juice.

Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes, stirring from time to time. Try not to crush the cranberries - this will make the jelly cloudy.

Step 2

Take a sterilized jelly bag or a large square of muslin and pour the mixture through into a very large bowl, and leave to drip through until it stops. Don't be tempted to squeeze the bag or muslin - this too, will make your jelly cloudy.

Step 3

Return the pulp to the pan, add another 1.2 liters of water and simmer for another 20 minutes. Drain through the jelly bag or muslin, as before, into a separate bowl. The juices will not be clear at this point in time, but don't worry, it will clarify once you add the sugar. Clean the pan, as you will need it for step 5.

Step 4

Combine the 2 juices and measure the total volume. Weigh out the sugar, allowing 450g sugar to every 600ml juice, and set aside. Wash and rinse 12 x 175ml jars with lids and sterilise them in the oven at 150°C/fan130°C/gas 2 for at least 15 minutes. Place a saucer in the freezer to chill.

Step 5

Pour the juice back into the pan, bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes to reduce and infuse the flavor, skimming off any scum or film as it collects on the surface. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved, then bring back to the boil and boil fast for about 10 minutes, continuing to carefully skim the surface as it appears, for a really clear jelly.

Step 6

After 10 minutes, test the jelly by pouring a little onto the chilled saucer. Return to the freezer for a few minutes, then remove and push your finger across the surface. If it wrinkles, then it's ready. Take the pan off the heat, leave to settle and skim off any residue from the surface of the jelly

Step 7

Make sure your jars are ready to go and pour the jelly into the jars. Sink a whole star anise in each jar. To keep this upright, you may need to use a cocktail stick or fine skewer to position this. After about an hour, the jelly will be cool enough now to cover with waxed discs and lids. Keep in the fridge once the jars have been opened, and use within 3 months. This jelly is ideal served with meat such as lamb or turkey and is great in sandwiches, too! Makes 12 small jars. The jelly will keep for up to 3 months. Store in a cool, dark place. For gourmet Christmas gifts, wrap the jars with metallic ribbon and add a homemade tag with storage instructions.

Tips & Warnings

Be very careful when pouring and handling the hot jelly - it's extremely hot and can cause serious burns, so this is not a recipe for kids.