How to make fruit pastilles
Making your own chewy sweets is a great way to use up a glut of autumn fruit, and kids will love cutting chunks of jelly and pressing them into sugar
Homemade fruit pastilles. Photographs: Mike Lusmore
My kids don't especially like jelly as a pudding. The wibble-wobble just doesn't appeal. A jellied sweet, however, is quite another thing. Dense, dark, chewy fruit pastilles, sparkling with sugar, are a favourite if any pocket money comes their way on a Saturday morning.
The sweet shop near our house is spectacular, magnetic in its appeal, and usually I wouldn't dare to suggest that homemade sweets are a realistic or practical substitute. But last week, while dragging the kids past the sweet shop and towards some blackberry bushes, I found myself striking a deal: we'd attempt to make our own version of their favourite sweets at home and, if these failed to pass muster, we'd head to the sweet shop after lunch.
And why not? Late summer's glut of soft fruit means there is plenty to cook with. We used blackberries for our pastilles, but plums, greengages and raspberries have all been priced attractively in my local veg shop these past few weeks. Sure, it would be far easier to buy a packet of fruit pastilles and be done with it. But cooking with my kids is an activity I cherish, and a skill I am keen for them to learn.
Not only did the pastilles work, but both kids liked the task of cutting the firm jelly into cubes and then pressing them into the sugar. If you avoid this step, these little jellies are especially flattering eaten alongside cheese – akin to Spanish membrillo (quince paste). Damsons work very well, too.
Blackberry fruit pastilles
2 medium-sized cooking apples
300g sugar (plus extra for dusting the cubes)
Wash the blackberries and peel and dice the apple.
Put them into a saucepan and add the lemon juice and water.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the fruit is tender.
Sieve the mixture over a large bowl, using the back of a wooden spoon to push it through. You should have about 600-700ml of fruit puree.
Return the puree to the pan, add the sugar and stir frequently until it has dissolved.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and continue cooking and stirring until it is very thick (mine took about 20 minutes). As it thickens, be very careful that it doesn't catch and burn.
Pour into a deep-sided tray, lined with greaseproof paper.
Allow to cool completely before cutting into pieces and pressing the cubes into more sugar.
• Follow Claire Thomson on Twitter or get more recipes at 5o'clockapron.com.
How to make fruit pastilles | Life and style | theguardian.com