Black pepper is something we take very much for granted but it is a special ingredient, which comes from a flowering vine that grows in tropical regions. When harvested, the small green fruits are briefly cooked and this turns them black. They are then dried and exported around the world. My speckly apple cheese is a wonderful way to celebrate this remarkable spice; I love serving it with a handcrafted mature Cheddar. If you like, you can place a few walnut halves in the base of the jars or small dishes at the same time as adding the extra pepper, so when the cheese is turned out the walnuts will be on the top.

If you’re using small jars or ramekins to shape the cheese, brush the insides with a little oil. If using a 10cm × 20cm heatproof dish or loaf tin, line it with baking parchment, allowing plenty of overhang.

Recipes from Pam the Jam: The Book of Preserves by Pam Corbin (Bloomsbury, £22)


  • A little olive oil or sunflower oil (optional)
  • 1kg Cooking apples
  • 500ml Cider
  • 400g Granulated sugar
  • 1-2tsp Cracked black pepper bought or coarsely crushed, plus a little pinch extra if needed
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 10-12 Walnut halves


  • STEP 1

    Rinse the apples and remove the stalks. Halve and quarter and roughly chop into 3cm pieces; there’s no need to peel or core them. Put in a roomy pan with the cider, cover and place over a medium heat and cook until the apples are completely soft. Tip them into a large sieve or a mouli placed over a bowl and rub through to remove the skin and pips; you should have about 800ml of smooth purée.

  • STEP 2

    Return the purée to the cleaned-out pan and place over a medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved. Continue to cook gently for about 30–40 minutes, stirring frequently and running a spatula around the sides of the pan, until the mixture is velvety smooth and gelatinous and there is a very clear path across the bottom of the pan for a couple of seconds when you drag a spoon across it. Remove from the heat and stir in the cracked pepper and salt.

  • STEP 3

    If you like, scatter a little extra black pepper and/or position a few walnuts (flat side uppermost) in the base of the jars, then spoon the mixture into the containers. Seal the jars with lids and allow to cool. If using small dishes or ramekins, after filling with the mixture, seal each with a snugly fitting disc of baking parchment, then allow to cool. 4. Store your fruit cheese in sealed jars in a cool, dark, dry place for up to a year. Once opened, keep in the fridge. Cheeses wrapped in parchment and stored in airtight containers will keep in the fridge for a year.