Rowanberry jelly

European rowans (Sorbus aucupari, sometimes called European mountain ash) grow well in the Icelandic climate and are common garden trees. In the autumn after the first frost and thaw you can see thrushes feasting on the berries and getting quite drunk on the fermented juice.

Humans also eat rowan berries, especially in jams and jellies (raw berries will cause indigestion, so don't let the lovely colour tempt you to try them uncooked).

The slightly bitter flavour makes rowan preserves an excellent match with strong cheeses and game, such as wild goose and reindeer, and it's also good with lamb.

If I can get enough rowan berries from a non-polluted source I plan to try making this jelly:

2 litres rowan berries with stalks
500 gr apples with skins (Jonagold is recommended as being flavourful and rich in pectin)
750 ml water
900 ml sugar for every 1 litre of juice

Pick the berries and freeze them overnight. This removes the worst of the bitter flavour of the berries.
Bring the water to the boil in a cooking pot and add the berries, stalks and all, and the coarsely chopped apples with skins and cores (only remove the seeds and stalks). Simmer gently for about 20 minutes.

Mash the stewed berries and apples with a potato masher and strain through a fine strainer lined with cheesecloth, or use a fruit press to extract the juice and then strain through a cheesecloth. Measure the juice and add 900 ml of sugar for every 1 litre of juice.

Return to the cooking pot and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes or until a drop of the liquid sets when dripped on the back of a cold spoon. Pour into sterilized, hot jars and seal immediately.

Preservative may be added.


Sourdough rye bread

This bread relies on fermentation for both rising and sweetness. I have not tested this recipe.

2 kg. rye flour
1 litre of water or a 1:1 mixture of water and whey
1 tsp salt

Put the rye flour into a large bowl. Warm the water and add the salt and then add the water to the rye flour and mix well together. Turn out onto a floured table and knead until smooth and free of cracks. Rub a little bit of cooking oil on your hands and form the dough into a loaf. Put the loaf into a well-oiled container - Icelanders often use tins, but a cooking pot or a casserole dish may be used as well. It has to fit inside another, larger container. The dough must not fill the container as it will rise (the genius who wrote the recipe book unfortunately does not say by how much).

Put a damp cloth on top of the container and leave to rise in a warm spot overnight. When the dough has risen, put baking paper on top of it and then close the baking container (with a lid, or if that‘s not available, with aluminium foil). Now put the baking container into another container that is both deeper and wider, with a rack or metal trivet in the bottom so the water will flow under as well as around the bread container. Pour water into the second container until it reaches the middle of the first one. Close the second container tightly.

Cook over low temperature for 3 hours, or bake at around 120 °C for the same amount of time. After 3 hours, remove the bread from the container, turn it over and return to the container, close both containers tightly and return to the heat/oven for 3-4 hours. Remove and cool.