By John Bartlett of Bartie’s Sussex Faire
"Aside from Lewes Farmers’ Market, which we attend regularly, the best event in Lewes is the Chilli Fayre (Sept 22nd) - it is just staggeringly good. We bake special chilli brownies and chilli pickled eggs, and watch people enjoy picnics and music, there’s lots going on. What I’m most looking forward to is trying to catch people who think they’re harder than they are with our hottest products made with fermented Carolina Reaper chillies.
"I can’t eat chilli, not the very hot ones. Anything above Scotch Bonnet I can’t touch… but our apple and chilli jelly is really great. For barbecue season it’s just glorious; you can slather it on anything. Unlike jam, chilli jelly stays where it’s supposed to be, and the apple base adds an extra taste. It goes really well with pork and cheeses.
"Bartie’s Sussex Faire was a hobby that got out of control. It all started with a glut of fruit… We have a house in France, in the Pays de Loire, and we were there one summer about 13 years ago when the six plum trees in our garden produced loads of fruit. Our kitchen table was groaning under the weight of about 30kg of plums, and so we thought we’d make jam with it. I’d always wanted to do something as a bit of a sideline, and it grew from there until it just took over. Quite simply, I enjoy the process of making preserves. It takes a bit of practice, like anything, but once you’ve done it a few times you begin to see... the variety of ingredients you use and things you can do is just massive… I like introducing people to something outside of what they would normally try."
birds-eye chillies, dried;
fresh red cayenne chillies, finely chopped;
Notes: The yield will always vary so work to a ratio of 450g sugar for every 500ml of cooked juice. Add pectin according to packet instructions and chillies to your taste. To sterilise, place jars in the oven at 110°C for 5 mins or more and lids in boiling water for 2 mins. Never touch the insides of sterile jars or lids.
Method: Roughly chop the apples, skin on and cores in, and place in a large stainless steel pan. Cover the fruit with water until it starts to float, and add the dried chillies. Boil until the apple turns to mush. Place the resulting pulp into a jelly bag, or a muslin cloth laid over a sieve, and strain for 20 mins or until no juice will come out. Measure the strained juice and return to the pan along with half the sugar and the chopped red chilli to reboil for 15-20 mins. Mix the pectin with the remaining sugar, add, and bring to a rolling boil for 5-10 mins. Your jelly should now be at set point, which you can test by placing a spoonful onto a chilled saucer – if the jelly crinkles when pushed, it’s done. If not set, add more pectin, ensuring you mix it with sugar first to prevent lumps. Finally, pour the jelly into sterile jars and seal while hot.