Saturday, 8 October 2011

Blackberry and Crab Apple Jelly

It was bring and buy at the Kenilworth Gardening Club this week, and knowing my love of preserving, I was 'pressured' into buying a bag of crab apples.  Together with all this year's meagre pickings of blackberries from the freezer, with equal weights of each of these fruit I thought of making a tasty jelly suitable to have with meats, or as a sweet spread for bread,scones etc.

I washed all the apples and cut off the stalks, and worked out my quantities and the ratios etc.  After gentle cooking, it was time to drain off the juices.  Normally I drape some muslin over a colander, but this time with about three kilos of fruit, I needed to improvise.

The fruit in the muslin hung from the big preserving spoon resting on rungs of the clothes airer, to give the required height above the bowl.  I made up 10x 240g jars of jelly.

Quince Butter

Last Week I thought I would have a go at preserving some of the fruit which Penny has grown.  The fruit was really hard, and by the time I had prepared the fruit for cooking, I had blisters!  I just cut them into quarters, and removed the stalk and blossom end, since I was going to be sieving the whole lot.

The fruit turns brown really quickly, and I used some lemon juice, but later read up that since the fruit turns pink in the heat, the browning is of no consequence.  I had some 'apple stock' and also added this to the pan in place of some of the water.  I sieved the fruit plump, to get 2 pints of puree, and with 1.5 pints sugar, got 5 jars of something between a quince butter and quince cheese.

Since this was called a 'butter', and the recipe called for a knob of butter to disperse the scum, I added a small piece, and was amazed by how quickly the bubbles around the very small piece, about a level teaspoon dispersed.  The yield was 5 jars of 240g.  Penny has kindly offered a few more of her choice tree ripened quinces, so I shall have another go at preserving them in some other format. 

For next year I have sourced some small wide necked jars for 'cheeses', which will be better as the cheeses can be unmoulded onto a seving dish. 

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Pawpaw Compote

It must be this heat feels strange for England. Its really hot but the days are not long, about 12 hours of daylight, and a little like deja vue I am getting a strange feeling. Sound seems to travel differently in the heat too, and one can hear the dogs barking. It feels as if I am back in Mauritius.

Maybe it is this that drew me to three pawpaws in Sainsbury's, as I remembered the deliciously delicate pawpaw jam which sat in a bowl in my mother's big fridge waiting to be spooned onto pain maison. As soon as I had landed, I was on the look out for the fragrant sun ripened fruit in the garden, and I would get cooking on the outside back veranda.....

We never had a recipe, and never added as much sugar as normal jam. This was more a 'compote', sweetened fruit which would keep long enough in a bowl. I would add a couple of small Rodrigues limes, and of course vanilla, which my dad said my Grandmere always insisted on. I added a normal lime and one vanilla pod, and half the weight of sugar to prepared fruit. I love the tiny vanilla seeds black against the rich colour, after a few days the vanilla will infuse the preserve. It is also lovely spooned onto plain yogurt.

I called Vita to come and have some special coffee and walnut cake and scones make with gluten free flour and we sat in the gazebo sampling the small pot. Delicious, and just right on plain sweet scones.

I looked through some of my books and as usual found Jane Grigson's Fruit book useful. What a coincidence that she quoted a passage about a pawpaw tree from a love story set in Mauritius written in 1787: Paul and Virginie, by Bernadin de Saint-Pierre,