Friday, 18 January 2019

Pineapple and Passion Fruit Jam

Back in the Summer I made Pineapple and Passion Fruit Jam using Christine Ferber's techniqueUsing this technique the pieces retain a good shape and are on the firm side, which is excellent for topping yogurt, or putting on as a garnish for a cheesecake or other desert.

This time I wanted to make a jam more in the traditional British format for putting on brioche etc.  Also I wanted to get on and make the jam just at one hit.  I had bought a pineapple a few days ago, and we just did not feel like eating it fresh.  Maybe it is the cold wintry weather.  As I had some passionfruit 'lurking' in the fridge, marrying them seem the obvious way of preserving the fruit for a later date.

1 Medium pineapple, 550g after preparation
125g water
Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon
3 passion fruit just the pulp, juice and seeds
400g sugar

The prepared fruit was weighed, the lemon zested, then juiced

The fruit was then chopped into smaller chunks, then put in a pan with 125g water, and the lemon zest and simmered till soft, and almost all the liquid evaporated. This took about 30 minutes.

With my wand blender I further chopped the pineapple with just three small bursts...I did not want a puree....To this I added all the other ingredients, and boiled till 105 C and the fridge test showed a skin.  Three medium jars of jam.......

The taste is fresher and less sweet...but I will work on on recipe for the other technique next time there is a 'surplus' pineapple.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Seville Marmalade Nouveau

With new Seville oranges, freshly arrived, and juicy lemons, I've made my complete batch of Seville Marmalade for the year.  I've decided not to 'store' oranges in the freezer to make marmalade later in the year, or buy the fruit later in the month.

This year I have refined and streamlined previous recipes and techniques.

Ratios: 1Kg Seville Oranges, the freshest and heaviest, 1 litre water, 3 lemons, 2Kg Sugar

This amount of water is for chopped and prepared fruit which is first cooked in a pressure cooker for 14 minutes, and allowed to cool down slowly at room temperate.

Wash all the fruit well in warm water, drain.

Cut the oranges in half.
Squeeze all the juice over a strainer in a wide open jug or bowl
Remove all the membrane and pips, and put this on a large square of muslin
Cut the Orange skin and pith finely into the size bits you want in the marmalade.

Cut the lemons in half, and squeeze the juice over the strainer, to add to the orange juice.
For one batch this year I chopped up the lemon peel to add to the orange.

Bring up the edges of the muslin in which all the bits and pips are, and tie very securely with kitchen string.

Put all the chopped bits of peel in a large container, add the water, and add muslin bag.  I used a three litre deep rectangular plastic box with lid.  I then put the jug with juice on top of everything within the box, which means the bag of bits gets pushed under, put the lid on, and left it all to seep for 24 hrs.  This softens the peel and allows a lot of pectin from the peel and pips to leach out into the water.

Once the soaking has taken place, put all the contents except for the jug of juice, into the pressure cooker, bring quickly to pressure and cook for 14 minutes.  When it is down to room pressure, you may start the remainder of the process, or you could leave this for another few hours.  Take the unopened muslin bag with its contents, and in a big sieve balanced over a bowl, twist the top, and press with a large spoon, to extract as much as the juice as possible.  The other alternative is to open the bag, put the contents in a sieve, and using a spoon, try to pass a fair quantity of gooey pulp into a bowl, which is then added to the preserving pan.

I like to add the juice only after the oranges are cooked at the final stage when using the large preserving pan to boil up the fruit and sugar, as thisgives  a fresher flavour to the marmalade.

Weigh the sugar in a large preserving pan.  The pressure cooker is likely to be too small to allow for the rise in the boiling marmalade.  Add the fresh juice together with the contents of the pressure cooker.  Continue to make your marmalade in the usual way.

This batch was made with just lemon juice and no peel, 900g Sevilles

The chopped lemon peel gives a marmalade with two different coloured peels.  The pith on the lemon remains a little more opaque, obvious in the picture below.

The lemon peel from the other batch was used to make crystallized lemon peel to add to one of our favourite breakfast buns: lemon and ginger buns, which I have made at least five times!

Friday, 4 January 2019

Pumpkin with Vanilla preserve

Mrs Mace is a the extent that I like to have a good store cupboard, with varieties of ingredients, and am prepared to try new foods, cooking techniques etc...

This year with the wonderful weather, and starting to appreciate the best sources for fruit and vegetables locally, acquired three wonderful pumpkins.  As well as the Marina di Chioggia Pumpkin, I had two smaller Crown Princes.

Early December, I decided to use up the last of the pumpkin, as it had just started to show signs of aging, which was a small soft spot the size of the thumb print.  It was baking time, with breads and cakes using up the pumpkins, as well as making my pumpkin panettone ready for Christmas Breakfast.

Since there was so much pumpkin, some was made up into a conserve from Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber, page 263: Pumpkin with Vanilla.

The hardest part was cutting up the firm flesh into julienne strips by hand....

Here are the julienne match sticks of pumpkin are having been infused with the sugar and vanilla, orange and lemon juice overnight.

I made half the quantity of the recipe, and although the taste is good, I would stick at this amount simply because cutting up the julienne strips took so long.  Maybe a coarsely grated version would be worth trying next time.  I also make the mistake of boiling it a little too long.  Maybe there was not as much water in the pumpkin as usual.

However I did use some of the preserve to top some yeasted pumpkin buns, and this worked very well.  I may yet blend a pot with some of the apple jelly to make a more 'fluid' preserve.  I think this one is good to incorporate or add as a topping to desserts and gateau.  It would be also very good mixed with pistachio nuts, in a similar way to the Apricot and Pistachio Conserve.

Mahonia Gin

Does making Mahonia Gin count as making preserves?????

Interesting and tasty experiment......

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Pineapple and Passion Fruit Jam

From a very early age I loved pineapples, and as for passion fruit, now there is a taste that I really love, and both of these remind me of my Gourmet Gourmande days, when my father loved to introduce me to the flavours he too loved so much.

One of the sights whenever I went to the local fruit and vegetable markets in Mauritius, were the lads cutting up the small local fresh pineapples.  with machetes they cut off the finest of slithers to remove the coarse outer peel, then with smaller knives cut decorative channels removing the eyes.  Have a look at my Pineapple Chutney Recipe where I explain the technique.  We almost always bought the unpeeled ones to bring home.

When I was young almost every home used to make their own 'confitures' or compotes....Two of my mother's friends Aunty Frances and Aunty Phylis, both English ladies, would often come over with pots to share.  Particularly memorable were jellies and jams made with Goyave de Chine or the small wild Strawberry Guavas that grew wild on the highland plateau.  In season, our families used to go on Sundays for adventures, picnics and foraging.  At home my very favourite was pawpaw and vanilla jam.

For the last few months, I have been making standard blackcurrant and strawberry jams for the year, but strangely missed out on apricot which is one of my favourites.  Its when a friend brought me a bag of plums that I started to get my thinking hat on, leafing through my preserve and recipe books for a little inspiration.

I had read that Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber had inspired many lovers of jams.  Just as a little present to myself, I sent off for my copy and have had it for less than a week.  I've only dipped in here and there, and she describes a different approach compared to the 'traditional' British jam making techniques.  As usual with my jams I like to try little twists, and look forward to reading this book, more or less from cover to cover.

There is no Pineapple and Passion Fruit recipe in Mes Confitures, but having a pineapple on the shelf just coming up to its best, and half a dozen passion fruits in the basket, I followed Ms Ferber's techniques and proportions.

I had also made some of the Green Apple Jelly which she uses as 'pectin stock' to add to fruit that has very little pectic.  I've never successfully made good setting pineapple jam, and have make chutney with pineapple.

Here the fruit is draining, early this morning, after its overnight 'marinade' in its just boiled up state in the dissolved sugar.  In releasing juices into the syrup, through osmotic dehydration, the chopped pineapple shrank.  

The liquid is then boiled up to 105 C, then the fruit and apple pectin stock added...and more boiling until 105 C setting point is once more reached.

With only a small standard pineapple this is the yield.  When trying something new I don't mind at all working on a small batch.  I've just had a spoonful on my evening sheep's yogurt...definitely nicely pineappley with a good depth of passionfruit too.  The jelly is very good, with pineapple and seeds nicely distributed.  Its a little sweet so maybe my ratios were not quite right, or perhaps a little more lemon juice in my next attempt.

When I have perfected my proportions, I'll add my recipe, but of course, there may be more jams tried before then.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Plum Jam with lime and cardamon

As I love the flavour of cardamon, as evidenced by my recent lime marmalade making, I decided to flavour this jam with that same spice.  I would normally use lemon juice in jam making, to add acidity, but with several dozen frozen limes in the freezer, I thought I would take the opportunity to see how the flavour of lime would go with plums in this small batch of jam.

1Kg victoria plums, weighed after prepared and chopped into smallish pieces, about quarters, went into the preserving pan. I added one lime which came straight from the freezer quartered to the fruit, and the five bruised cardamon pods with no water, and slowly heated this till the juices started to flow, in a thick bottomed pan.  Every couple of minutes or so, I gave the pan a stir with a steel slotted spoon, and slowly more liquid came out from the fruit.  When I was happy that there was sufficient liquid, I left the fruit to cook over a moderate heat with the lid on, and after about ten minutes took off the lid to allow for a further little evaporation.

When I felt the fruit was sufficiently softened, 800g white granualted sugar was added.  As soon as the sugar was dissolved over a moderate heat, the heat was increased and with a good rolling boil, afters about 15 minutes I started to use the Thermapen.  At 105 C I turned off the heat, put a spoonful on the saucer which went into the fridge, cover the pan with the lid...and waited.  Yes there was the sure sign of the wrinkle on the top of the jam.  I removed the cardamon husks, left the seeds behind, and potted the pieces of lime peel, ready to use in some fruity bread or wherever candied peel is called for.

In the past I have been potting up the jam immediately, but I feel that with lumps of fruit, a little of the liquid would be pulled out into the jelly matrix, and dilute this.  I therefore left the jam to cool completely, and in the evening returned to it.  Carefully increasing the heat, whilst checking that there was no sticking to the bottom, brought the jam to 105 c, then allowed the jam to cool for about 10 minutes before potting it into heated sterilized jars.

I feel that this waiting and reheating the jam has led to a very good set indeed.

The jam has turned out very well, and I expected comments at the breakfast table to be somewhat along the lines:  Why put all these flavourings in?  If you have read some of my previous comments on preserves, you will know that I love adventure and innovation in flavour, whereas Mr M loves traditional preserves.  However I completely agree with his opinion that it works wonderfully on toast.

I hope Jane who gave me the plums, will enjoy her jar of jam.

I am normally a purist when it comes to Marmalade, well for me Toast is for Marmalade, and at a pinch good with hot crusty rolls,  but jam is never for toast.  I changed my mind on this was when I first made wild plum jam from  lovely little wild yellow plums.  I have since found out that they are called Mirabelle de Nancy...and I must find a tree to grow in the garden.  In many areas these grow wild in the hedgerows, but I am yet to find them growing close enough to home to go and forage.

I've ordered a small Mirabelle de Nancy, which should be planted in the garden this autumn, and hopefully I shall be able to pick my own mirabelles in a couple of years time.

Victoria Plum Chutney the easy way

With a bagful of Victoria Plums from friends, I quickly looked through recipe books and also my own recipes, and devised a different one to use up a Kilo of prepared plums.

To prepare the plums, I wash them first, then as they need to be chopped up, I select the more variable in size and shape and ones that may have small blemishes, since these can be eliminated.  Its the completely prepared fruit which had had the stones removed, and pieces cut out that are weighed to make up the chutney.  Each plum is cut into about 8 pieces.

I now store all my fresh ginger in the freezer.  Having first washed and brushed it, I cut up the large rhizomes into pieces about two centimeters long, and open freeze it, then put them all in a tub in the freezer.  There is now always ginger ready to hand, and from frozen it cuts up very easily into whatever size pieces are needed.  I like to use the dry dates and keep the lovely soft ones for eating fresh with nuts.


1Kg prepared plums
350g cooking onions, peeled and chopped
50g prepared fresh/frozen ginger
100g dried pitted dates
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsps cumin seeds, dry roasted and slightly crushed
300ml organic cider vinegar
100g soft brown sugar, preferably Billington's Light Muscovado from Mauritius

Add all of the above to a large very thick bottomed pan, stir over a moderate heat, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, and continue to cook gently, stirring regularly, to make sure that that nothing is sticking at the bottom of the pan.  The chutney should be thick and pulpy, but do bear in mind that it thickens further as it cools.

Sterilized your jars and have them hot and ready from the oven, then ladel in the chutney using a jamming funnel, cover quickly with a new and clean top, check that the tops are wells sealed down.  When cool, label, and set by in a cool dark cupboard and wait......two to three months at least.

This chutney is wonderful with cold cuts of meat, on the side with vegetable bakes, macaroni cheese etc.

To anyone who is a newby to chutney making, I say:

" Taste the chutney when cool enough, by all means.  However, it is only two, three, or even six months down the line that the lovely depths of flavour start to be produced.  Think of the chutney as a red wine or a port that develops over time.  Chutney is a lovely way of capturing ingredients when they are at their best, preserving them in a sealed and hygienic environment, then with time you realise that you have created something that is greater than the sum of the original ingredients."

By all means use whatever variety of plums you have to use....