Making fruit pastilles is really just as easy as making jam and you will require similar basic tools, including a jam thermometer. You also need to be well prepared and have all your tools in place, as the mixture thickens incredibly fast once it is ready, so line your chosen tray with cling film in advance and leave it in an easy-to-reach spot.
Remember, once the pastilles are made and set, do not refrigerate them, otherwise they will get damp and will start to dissolve. They are best kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry cupboard and eaten within 3 days.
Although stone fruits and berries contain a decent amount of pectin, they don’t contain quite enough to set these pastilles sufficiently, so a little extra pectin is added for that reason. Powdered pectin is available from most good supermarkets or health food shops. The liquid glucose gives the sweets a lovely chewiness and it can found in the baking ingredients section of most supermarkets.
Ingredients & Method
- 360g (total/unprepared weight) fresh wild plums
- 100g (prepared weight) fresh elderberries, stalks removed
- 400g fresh brambles or blackberries
- 100ml cold water
- 180g liquid glucose
- 300g caster sugar
- 20g powdered pectin
- demerara sugar, for coating
Line a 21 x 14 x 1.5cm sturdy white plastic tray (or a shallow ceramic dish of the same size) with a double layer of cling film and set aside.
Wash and drain the plums, elderberries and brambles, then cut the plums in half and remove the stones (you need 300g prepared plums). Place the prepared plums and stones (the stones contain pectin and for that reason you should boil them together with the fruit) and the elderberries and brambles in a saucepan with the water and bring the mixture to the boil over a very low heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer the fruit mixture, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until it is completely softened and pulpy. Remove from the heat and pass the fruit mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Discard the stones and any solids.
Measure 500ml of the wild plum purée (see Cook’s Notes) into a clean saucepan and add the glucose. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and boil gently for 10–15 minutes or until the mixture reaches a temperature of 105°C (setting point) on a jam thermometer, stirring a couple of times to prevent it from catching. Add the caster sugar and pectin, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then bring the mixture back to a simmer and cook for a further 10 minutes or so until it reaches a temperature of 105°C for a second time.
Remove from the heat and immediately pour the boiling mixture into the lined tray, then leave at room temperature until it is completely set. I find leaving it to set overnight usually works best. Once it is cold, it’s also best to cover the mixture with a tray or something that covers it but doesn’t touch the surface (if you use cling film to cover, then it will stick to the surface of the fruit jelly and will ruin all your efforts).
Once it is completely set, cut the fruit jelly mixture into 24 squares, roll each jelly square in demerara sugar and then serve the pastilles. Store the fruit pastilles in an airtight container (with non-stick baking paper between each layer) in a cool, dry cupboard and use within 3 days.
If you have any leftover fruit purée, leave it to cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge and use within 3 days. Serve the fruit purée with ice cream for a dessert, or serve it with muesli and natural yogurt for breakfast.
To make Mirabelle Fruit Pastilles, simply follow the recipe as directed above, but replace the wild plums, elderberries and brambles with 900g mirabelle plums (unprepared weight). Wash and drain the plums, cut them in half and remove the stones (you need 750g prepared plums), then continue as the recipe directs.