I've had this experiment rolling around in my head since brewing up that first shou that filled my nose and kitchen with yummy smells of spiced earth and blackberries (specifically, that 2003 Longma Tong Qing). Now that flats of luscious berries are filling the markets I decided it was time to try it out. I made a few different batches, tweaking the recipe each time. I still think this could use some revisions, but this one is pretty darn good. Lest you think that shou-flavored jelly sounds like an "acquired taste" let me assure you, this will surprise! I was wondering, too. Do I really want jelly that tastes like garden mulch?? But much like a well-crafted perfume, the shou blends in beautifully, adding surprising depth and even creaminess to the deep dark blackberry goodness. If you didn't know it was in there you'd never taste it and think "tastes like my jellied scone was dropped in the dirt," even though there's a good amount of strongly brewed shou in the recipe. I even tested this out on unsuspecting family members and friends, not telling them what I'd put in it. Everyone happily devoured their jelly-slathered English muffins with many compliments, although none could pinpoint what kind of berry I'd used. The addition of the shou has a terrific effect on the flavor. This coupled with the bit of added spice and the use of raw, unrefined sugar (which lend a very subtle molasses note) turns a plain old blackberry jelly into dark mystery-berry yumminess. Here's the (current) recipe:
2 1/4 pounds blackberries
2 1/4 pounds tart cooking apples (or crab apples, if you have access to some)
5 cups water
20 grams shou puer
6 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
about 5 cups raw unrefined pure cane sugar
Cut the apples into rough chunks. No need to peel or core them (the peel and cores are good sources of pectin). Add the apple chunks and the blackberries to a large stockpot.
|boiling the shou|
Makes about 7 half-pint (8 oz.) jars.
|draining the liquid|