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Red Whortleberry Jelly

Sauces and Spicery
Derbyshire, Devon

Jelly, or jam, made from semi-ripe bilberry fruits. Served with goose.

Image: http://www.purelydevonhampers.co.uk

Original Receipt from the Western Morning News - Wednesday 13 August 1924


Now is the time that the delicious blueblack whortleberry is ripe on the tors and valleys of Dartmoor. The hardy shrubs are decked thousands of. berries, looking almost like small black grapes, with their delicate bloom, hanging singly beneath the leaves. welcome addition to many family purse will be made among little moorland homesteads by busy pickers. For the fruits fetch a good sum in the shops and fruit markets. The whortleberry shrub creeps over mos6y stones, amongst the purple heather, up old stone walls, even the summits of the tors and down by t'he rivers in the valleys. Such sturdy, brave little plant, with its tough hardy stems and bright glossy leaves, many of which are beautiful scarlet, showing gaily amidst the green. Picking whortleberries is a delightful occupation, not merely for the pleasure and profit of gathering fruit for nothing, but one works amongst the most beautiful scenery of Dartmoor. The pure mountain air is laden with delicious scents of heather and bracken and breezes from the Channel. A fine invigorating tonic for mind and body. And how delicious the whortleberries are when cooked. What finer treat than whortleberry tart served with clotted cream? Just try it. Fill pie-dish with whortleberries, adding, if liked, little other fruit, such gooseberries or rhubarb; sweeten to taste, cover with a good rich crust, and bake in a moderate oven until the paste is golden. Serve either hot or cold with clotted cream, or failing this, plain cream or custard. Dartmoor folk make lots of whortleberry jam and jelly, for which I give their recipes.

For jam, add each pound of fruit a little rhubarb cut in tiny pieces. Simmer gently in the preserving pan for an hour before adding the sugar. each pound of fruit allow an equal weight of sugar; little less if no rhubarb is used; boil slowly for two hours longer.

The jelly is made slowly stewing the berries until all juice is extracted. Strain and measure the juice - throw away the berries and to each pound add 3/4 lb. of sugar. Boil for an hour. No other fruit is added for whortleberry jelly.

There is delicate and unusual flavour about whortleberries which awakens memories of mountain air and the fragrance of heather, tramps over spring turf, and mists dispelled by warm sunshine.

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