Saturday, 20 January 2018

Early Rhubarb Jam

On Thursday Maggie asked if I would like a ride up to Fruit and Veg stall at the Rocky Mountain Nurseries about three miles from Wells.  We were going up to get oranges, lemons etc for a great marmalade making spree next week.  We are going to make marmalade to raise funds for the refurbishment of the Chapel at the Wells Almshouses.

It is almost like going to a wholesalers, as the owners buy the best in season, and sell off whole boxes of fruit and veg at very competitive prices.  We bought a whole box: (cardboard) of fine but 'ungraded' forced rhubarb for £5 to split...this is just half a box!  It was towards the end of the day so I think we arrived close to the final sell off.

After washing and preparing the stems, I had 1.75Kg, but by then was too tired to start cooking...

By yesterday evening I had looked through recipe books and had plans not only for the 1Kg of rhubard that went into the jam, but had also made a rhubarb crumble and an almond and spelt cake with chopped rhubarb in it.

For the jam, the rhubarb was chopped up, and layered with 900g granulated sugar to which I had added a sachet of powdered apple pectin, the juice and the rind of an orange...

After several hours of trying to get back to sleep, and no results, I was up at 5 a.m this morning, and found that the sugar has pulled out a lot of the juice leaving the little pieces of rhubarb bobbing around near the surface.  So is this doubly early Rhubarb Jam?

I boiled up the jam, using both the thermapen to test for the 105 c temp, and a cold plate for the wrinkle test, to check when it was ready to pot...and was very happy with this very delicate pink rhubarb jam.

This is the first time I have bought the very early rhubarb, and wanted to make a very simple preserve.  Last year I made a double ginger rhubarb jam as well as a rhubarb, fig and orange jam from garden grown rhubarb.

Grapefruit and cardamom marmalade

There is a much easier way of weighing grapefruits, but sometimes a little fun creeps into my preserving. 

I was thinking back to our holiday last year in La Gomera.....

Making marmalade in stages allows for time, which helps with the softening the peel, allowing the pectin to seep into the water.

I followed my now trusted formula for marmalade, using the ratios of 1 litre water to 1 Kg fruit to 1.5 Kg Sugar, with the juice of 3 to four lemons.

For this preserve, I added the lemon peel to the grapefruit peel for the soaking.

I leave the rind in these long segments for the soaking and cooking at pressure, then cut them up finely after the pan has returned to room temperature naturally, often on the following day.  It is then soft and very easy to cut up.

Before it is cooked, the flesh and pips which I removed before cutting up the rind, also go into the soaking liquid overnight.

The lemon juice only goes in when the sugar is added and the preserving pan is brought to the boil.

As I  enjoyed the Pear, Lemon, Lime and cardamom marmalade which is just coming to an end, I decided to add some cardamom to this grapefruit marmalade.  I think the P L L & C marmalade is my favourite flavour in the marmalade field.  I have made several Grapefruit marmalades since I started this blog, but it has always been using pink grapefruits.

I leave the crushed whole pods to boil up in the pan, but remove the husks and leave the seeds whole in the finished marmalade.

I have only just today made up labels, and the jars are now nestling in the preserve cupboard in the newly decorated utility room.  All except for one which I have already given to a friend.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Pear Lemon and Lime Marmalade with cardamon

Its that time of the year again...Pear season.  We came away from visiting our dearly beloveds with a large basket of pears.  With pears there is the day they are perfect, and then afterwards it is a fast decline.  With a few set down in the freezer poached in port and vanilla, its time to come up with some preserves for the store cupboard.

Back in 2013, I made a delicious Pear and Lemon Marmalade.  I wanted to make a preserve this morning, but only had three organic lemons in 'store', and with it being cold and miserable, just did not want to go out to get more.  There were some organic limes ready for a desert, so a few of them were commandeered to join the preserve.

At knitting on Thursday Maggie was explaining a 'Victorian' Christmas cake recipe, where everything was made in the same pan, to avoid as much washing up as possible!  Well they did not have running hot water and detergents, and washing up must have been quite a chore.  I can hear Mr M saying 'it still is'.  Well he is away, and it is I who will be doing all the washing up.

This marmalade was therefore all made in the same pan: the pressure cooker.

I took 400g combined weight lemon and limes, first carefully washed, then chopped them into quarters, extracted the juice, then put the fruit skins and pips and cooked them for 12 minutes at full pressure with 500ml of water.  Meantime I skinned and chopped 800g pears, and tossed them in the remaining lemon and lime juice.

When the peel was sufficiently cool, after the membranes were scrapped off, the peel with all its pith still attached was finely chopped.  ( The last little detail was added for Jason who asked the question).  The pith really turns to a soft jelly like edge to the peel, and gives a good mouth feel in the final marmalde.

Thchopped peel was then put back into the pressure cooker with the chopped pear, and brought to pressure for another five minutes.  Meanwhile I pushed the pulp which includes the internal juicy parts of the lemons and limes, the scrapping and pips through a sieve, and this was then added with 650g sugar, to the pressure cooker as soon as it was cool enough to open. You are left with just a the pips and the bits which could not pass the sieve which go in the bin.  This is when the tablespoon of cardamon pods are added.  I had thought of adding juniper berries as I had done with Lime Marmalade once...maybe another time.

The next stage of boiling up the marmalade was done with the lid off!!!!  Towards the end of cooking when the temperature was about 103 C I fished out the pods, and using two forks, to prevent burning, I squidged out the seeds which went back in the pan, then just within few minutes and the magic 105 C was reached.

Of course the marmalade is rather fruity, but with just 650g sugar there are only two medium and two large jars.

All that chopping and washing up for just four will be worth it, I hope!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Somerset Courgette and Apple Chutney

This is a new Chutney Recipe, devised to have a truly local chutney.  In what sense local?  Is it traditional....most probably not!  It does contain courgettes grown in my garden, and apples from Andrew opposite, and local Somerset Cider from Honey Pot Farm.  Organic onions bought locally and soft brown sugar from Mauritius.


1Kg small courgettes chopped to the size you would like to have in the chutney
500g cooking apples
600g brown onions, chopped small
6 cloves of garlic cut into slithers
500g soft brown sugar
700g organic cider vinegar
1.5 tbs cornflour

1 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp fenugreek
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp celery seeds
3 tsp light mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 chilli, chopped small.

Chop the courgettes, and put them in a bowl and toss with 1 tbs sea salt, and leave whilst you prepare the following, which allows for water to be drawn out.  Just before adding them to the preserving pan, put into a colander and press down to remove any liquid.

In your preserving pan, or large pan, or pressure cooker base, warm the vinegar and add all the spices...keep this on a very low heat whilst you chop the ingredients: Chop the apples small and the onion and garlic...putting them in the vinegar as you go along.  Remove a few tablespoon of the vinegar to a small dish or cup, and when cool stir in the cornflour.

Add the soft brown sugar to the preserving pan and stir until dissolved.  Boil up and then simmer gently for about five minutes, then add the drained courgettes.  Heat up till boiling again then reduce to a simmer for another five minutes or so. I like a tiny bit of bite to the vegetables, so keep an eye on the timings and the texture, stirring from time to time.

Add the cornflour to the pan, and stir carefully throughout the chutney, and the whole lot should be nicely thickened, but it will thicken more on cooling.

Pot up into sterilized jars.  I do this by washing the jars and rinsing them, then placing them in an oven at about 100 C for fifteen minutes.  The lids I add to a basin, add boiling water to cover, and place this in the oven at the same time.  I like to add the chutney to warmed jars, but the lids need to be dried off with a clean kitchen towel.

I love the way that by making chutneys, one can transform and preserve fruit and vegetables to make a tasty condiment, to be put in store, and used later. Using up plentiful local ingredients is one of the pleasures of in a county where the art of cider vinegar making is being continued by even small orchard and cider makers, it would be remiss not to seek out different ones.  My current batch of chutneys are from a cider vinegar which is truly fruity.  I am sure that cider vinegars change from year to year, and from maker to maker and I look forward to seeking out different ones.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Apricot and Lemon Verbena Jam

What's in a name:  Jam, conserve, compote, marmalade?  Its too hot today to dissect and analyse the origin and difference between the nomenclature of sweet preserves.  I'm going to throw all the words into the 'jamming pan'.  You and I can add more fruit, or less sugar.  If it is to your taste, and you enjoy it, and make sure it is well kept, so as not to induce tummy problems...then enjoy your preserve!  One of the jams I enjoy the most is made from Apricots.

Today I picked up a Kilo of Apricots from the Wednesday market in Wells, and was delighted that they were put into a paper bag....not the 5 or 6 to a plastic tub with film that is not recyclable which have been the only source from Tesco's recently.  The only way forward to try to buy unpackaged fruit.

I have yet to decided which jam to make:  will it be Apricot and Ginger, Apricot and Orange Marmalade, or Apricot and Pistachio? Which reminds me...I have yet to post the recipe for Apricot and Lemon Verbena Jam which I recently made.

Lemon Verbena is my recent most favourite herb picked from the garden.  I have the mother plant bought back in 2015, which having outgrown its pot is now in the garden, a second one from a cutting taken last year, and several more cuttings hopefully growing little roots .  It is delicious just chopped up on fruit like pineapple, melon, etc.  I love to make a cup of hot tea too with its crushed leaves.

This is a straight forward apricot jam, to which I add the blanched kernels, and about six leaves of lemon verbena finely chopped at the time I added the sugar to the cooked fruit.  Delicious.  Next time I would, in addition,  add the same amount of chopped leaves a minute or two before taking the jam off the heat, to add that bright green speckle.

All bottled up

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Seville 2017

During the first week in may be as warm here in Wells as it is in Seville...I have to keep reminding myself that it is April and not May or June!

We have finished the last of the 2016 Vintage of Seville Marmalade, which was made from 2015 it was time to make a new batch this weekend.  The Seville Oranges have been in the freezer for just a few weeks, and with some lovely fresh unwaxed lemons, I got 1 Kg fruit out to defrost on Friday.  Normally I would cook the fruit whole and cut after cooking, but this time, having felt the defrosted fruit, found that they were quite soft.  I chopped the peel finely, and added it to the 1 litre water in the pressure cooker, wrapped the segments and seeds in a muslin cloth and put that in the water too.  The whole lot was left to macerate till this morning.

I cooked up the fruit for 12 minutes in the New Pressure Cooker...12lbs pressure, they squeezed the bag of pulp and pips, and then added the sugar, and followed the usual boiling up, testing of temperature and also saucer test.  Can you see my new toy?  Well toy it is not...this is my new SuperFast Thermapen...what a boom, it takes just a few seconds to give an accurate read out.  It is MADE IN ENGLAND!  My old probe has lasted over twenty years...but you  had to hold it in the jam for ages as it took so long to get a reading!  It was my breadmaking friend Nigel who first showed this instrument to me via Facebook, for testing that bread was done...and I was hooked!

This year I have decided to make a preserve with less 1 Kg fruit, I added the juice of two lemons, and 1.5Kg sugar, rather than 2Kg.

Most of the jars finished off as a classic Seville Marmalade...but I could not resist a little whiskey in two smaller jars!  Will Mr M who definitely does not like whiskey take to the Whiskey Marmalade?

Classic and Whiskey Seville Marmalade

Rhubarb, fig and orange jam

What could I make with just 400g rhubarb that would tickle my fancy?  I let the thought settle, and wondered what I could friend Maggie agreed that figs do go well, and that she had a recipe, which I was welcome to.  I just could not wait.....

Out came 250g of my Dried Greek Figs from Persepolis, which I chopped small, and soaked overnight 

Exceedingly good figs

in the juice of two organic oranges.  I had to go into Wells for more sugar, and I saw some very good organic juicing oranges in Tesco.  I removed the outer peel to go into the rhubarb before juicing the fruit.
Organic juicing oranges from Tesco

I used 400g sugar to macerate the rhubarb, and the following day rubbed half a sachet of Tate & Lyle's powdered pectin into a further 100g sugar, then brought the whole lot to the boil, and tested and found a good setting point at 105 C

Here are his and hers jams...what's mine is mine, and what is his could be mine too!  But then I may just let him taste and have some of mine.  I got five small but absolutely delicious jars with one of my favourite fruits, which usually I use fresh...figs.  These are very fragrant even when dried, so would absolutely recommend them, as the flavour is very good in the jam.

The 1Kg rhubarb yielded 5 larger jars of Rhubarb and Ginger Jam.