American Beautyberry and Turk’s Cap Jelly

I decided to practice my food photography out on a jelly I hadn’t made before from berries I gathered from my garden. A few years back, a volunteer Turk’s Cap sprung up in my herb garden. I let it stay since it is a native, edible perennial where I live. I planted an American Beautyberry this past spring since waiting around for a volunteer plant of that variety seemed…well…to be a fruitless endeavor.

My Beautyberry is a young plant, so I wasn’t able to harvest much. I decided to grab the few Turk’s Cap fruits that had set to add to the berries. I thought about tossing in a few of the red flowers of the Turk’s Cap, but I figured I would let those stay on the plant to set more fruit for later this fall.

jelly1

I boiled the berries (which amounted to 3/4 cup) in a cup of water for 20 minutes. This left me with 1/4 cup of juice after I mashed the berries and strained the juice out.

I read several jelly recipes online and ultimately decided to make a small jar using the following ingredient proportions:

1.  1/4 cup of prepared juice and a teaspoon of lemon juice

2.  1 cup of water

3.  1 cup of sugar

4.  1 tablespoon of pectin (follow the instructions on your pectin to ensure the jelly sets properly)

The lemon juice came from a Lemon Drop tree I have in my yard. It’s a more fragrant fruit than a regular lemon.

jelly2

The jelly turned out nicely with a pleasant, light flavor. The berries themselves are nothing to write home about, nor is the cooked juice. It has a chalky flavor like an unripened persimmon. I was a little dismayed with the juice after I prepared it because of the yucky flavor. However, when I added the citrus and sugar, the flavors came together.

As far as the photography goes, I’m happier with the first picture than the second. I should have dolled up the second one with a nice plate or doily instead of using my boring formica as a background.

(YES, they are both edible!)

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