Friday, 28 December 2012

Kumquat Marmalade spiced with cardamom

I found some Kumquats for sale in Waitrose just before Christmas.  Unusual fruit interest me, and not having tasted these for a few years, bought some. 

I used some as the basis of my cranberry relish with the addition of a few spices and port to give an aromatic relish to accompany the Christmas Roast Turkey, goose, or ham.  The few spare jars I made went as gifts to friends who appreciate my preserves.

To eat one of these tiny orange looking fruits is a taste experience...the skin is sweet but the juice astringent and bitter, and leaves the most marvellous clean taste in the mouth for over 10 minutes....maybe I ought to have kept a few back to act as a palate cleanser during the Christmas feasting.

All the fruit was cut in half to expose the membranes and pips to the liquor so that the pectin could be absorbed into the juices, and then softened in the pressure cooker first with a little fresh orange juice, and three whole crushed cardamom pods.  After cooling I removed the insides, cut up the skins finely, sieved the pulp back into the pan, and added the sugar.  After the customary boiling, I had these very small jars.....must be the most expensive marmalade I've ever made.....

It tastes quite exotic, with the cardamom adding a warm background note and was delicious served on our pumpkin bread.  I shall use this precious preserve for baking and adding accent notes to cakes etc.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Pineapple Chutney ready for Christmas

What a whopper, and in perfect condition.  I bought this a week previously and have been keeping a keen eye out waiting for the perfect moment of ripeness, when the sugars will have reached perfection and the smell is sweet and warm, and before any blemishes start to appear. 

Then out with the knives and sharpeners, et voila, nearly as good as the street hawkers in Mauritius with the machetes.  I would have loved to have stood up on a stand at the NEC on Wednesday and demonstrated this great technique.

Chop, chop, weigh, and measure, and into the pan, all the ingredients are ready for the slow simmer.

I say all the ingredients, well I only added the chili at the end, after I had potted up two jars for Janice who asked for no chillies.  I added two blue elastic bands round her jars, I can hear you say, can't you see the lovely red chillies in the jar, and I say that sometimes I put the jars away in the cupboard unlabelled, and there it is easy to pull the right jars quickly from the dark recesses if there is a band round them.

I had to pull out all the jars this Thursday and was still labelling them up when Janice arrived.  She caught me in the act, and commented on my labels printed on paper, being cut up with scissors and stuck on with glue...she thought  I used self adhesive labels.  I found them a fiddle to align them for printing, and I am able to print out different size labels, depending on the jars I have filled.  This time I made a special label called Janice's Pineapple Chutney just for her jar!  The chutney is nicely matured ready for this Christmas, and goes especially well with cold ham, pork pies, and cold chicken and turkey. 

Recipe available on request.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Grapefruit and Lemon Marmalade

With three big beauties on the kitchen counter, and organic lemons, I revisited my first attempt written up in my journal....but I had not written the technique.  I remember something about using a processor, but the recipe in the book said cut up the peel finely before the first cooking stage.  Compromise:  cut up the peel, and process the insides, minus the pips of course.

Mostly I cut up the peel after it has been cooked either on the whole fruit, or quartered, which is much easier.  This grapefruit was cut up raw, into very fine pieces.  By the time I had finished I had a little pain in the elbow, not tennis elbow, but Preserving Elbow...the lemon went into the processor!

I set the completed marmalade to cool overnight, but first caught the warm colour in the low sunshine, just the colour of all the leaves on the front garden ready to be swept up.

A couple of days later, I designed and printed off the labels, I have my little pot of diluted glue in a pretty very mini jam jar with spotty top, brought from the Summer Food Show by Penny....

now I have Seville, Apricot and Orange, Lime, and Grapefruit and Lemon Marmalade to choose from to go on my breakfast toast.  Actually I only allow myself to have two open jars at any one time.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Seville Marmalade Back to Basics

Using my very old tried and tested technique, I took some oranges out of the freezer, weighed them, put them in the pressure cooker whole with the water, and allowed them to thaw overnight.  The next day I cooked them, leaving till the third day, when they were removed, cut very finely, the pulp and pips sieved.  The remains are then cooked again to extract all the pectin with the remainder of the water.  Finally the lemon juice and warmed sugar is added. 


After ten minutes or so, the marmalade is ladled into the sterilised jars.  Usually I try to design and get the jars stored away in a dark cupboard the following day.

Sweet Eve Strawberry Jam

Just before I went on holiday, I spied some delicious looking strawberries in Waitrose, and was amused by their name:  Sweet Eve.  Even though I ought to have been getting the house ready for our departure, I found time to use the macerating technique.

It was a  sunny day, and the conservatory warm and sunny is the ideal spot, but windows and doors needed to remain closed as the wonderful smell would have attracted any late flying wasp in the vicinity.  Within a couple of hours, the juices were starting to flow out and dissolve the sugar.

After some packing, I returned to find the concoction ready for the stove.

Just a few small jars, and they had to wait till we got back for the labelling.  Last week I was focused on getting all the washing and ironing from the holiday done, and getting ready for my first time as Chairman of Kenilworth in Bloom, as it was our annual prize giving evening.

Finally the jars are labelled up.  I decided to call the preserve Eve's Strawberry Jam.  I found a detail of a very old recipe, where a few cloves were added to the boiling.  I haven't tasted it yet.  The recipe was from the times when spices and sugar were really only for the very well off....

As I labelled up the jars, my thoughts turned to a lady I used to work with called Eve.  We are no longer in touch, but I have fond memories of her.  She was the only lady in the Department who worked Part-time, and whilst we all worked long hours, she seemed to have the work life balance just right.  She had time to make jam, biscuits, and knit, and I still have some lovely hand made christmas decorations which she gave me.  I've had them for over 15 years now.

Reusing Jam Jars

I've just posted my views on today's news item that there are threats to the 'home made reuse jam jars ethic' on my main blog. 

This year the growing season has been dire in the UK, so I have not had the huge rush to try to preserve excess produce from the garden of friends or from my few fruit trees.  I've been buying top quality produce as I see it, and have now a full cupboard ready to distribute.

Since the Apricot & Orange Marmalade, I made the following, some in quite small quantities:

Raspberry Jam, Plum Jam, Nectarine Chutney, Fig Chutney, Beetroot Chutney, Strawberry Jam, Lime Marmalade, More Strawberry Jam, Fig and Orange Conserve, Sweet Eve Strawberry Jam with cloves, and Back to Basics Seville Marmalade. 

I've used Organic Seville Oranges from the freezer for this last one.  I got so excited when I found Organic Oranges for the first time, that I went a little overboard with my shopping! I compensated for the fact that they were frozen by juicing an additional lemon into the fruit before boiling up with the sugar.

I've just designed new labels for the Marmalade and when the jars have their labels on there will be a full preserve cupboard.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Apricot & Orange Marmalade

Once or twice a week, we have toast for breakfast, and on toast I almost always have only marmalade.  During the season I stash away some Seville Oranges in the freezer, as as I found Organic Seville Oranges this year, I went a bit mad, and saved more than normal, so I am trying out some different marmalades. 

I have a very good new knife sharpener, which has transformed my knives....they cut like scalpels with no squashing of the fruit.

After the gentle Grapefruit Marmalade, I thought I would try a recipe using a non citrus fruit as well.  The process for preparing the oranges and lemons was a new one for me, in that the fruits, minus the pips, are chopped down fine in a processor before cooking for about an hour, with the pips in a muslin bag.  After that the apricots are added and the whole lot cooked again, before the sugar is added. 

The preserve is soft and tangy at the same time, with the flavour of the sevilles and apricots coming through, the texture is smooth....lovely with croissants, brioche and some of my lovely milk loaf make for the weekend.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Pink Grapefruit Marmalade

I could not have imagined that just pink grapefruit, lemons and sugar could give such a gentle and succulent marmalade.  There is no bitterness well not to my taste buds, and the colour is beautiful.  Yes there is the classic Seville Marmalade, but this one is very special.  This one is competition standard to be sure!

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

No pictures here, but the thought of some tangy quintessentially English preserve on fresh bread or on my home made Staffordshire oat cakes, is small compensation for the dismal weather we have been having.  I only made four jars as I was astounded at the price of rhubarb.  However, I bought some more today, and will make a second batch tomorrow, so there will be jars for whoever would like them.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Lime Marmalade revisited

If Mr M can wish for something we haven't got, then I can too, and with some tasty sour dough I felt that what would go best with this would be lime marmalade....and guess what, there was none left.  The very next day I bought a bag full, and with the juice of one lemon, made just a few jars.  This time, I scraped most of the white pith, before cutting the peel into shreds, and strained the juices off.  With less of the flesh in the preserve, it is more like a jelly: full of flavour, clear, but quite a bit less!  This morning I had my toast and lime marmalade, delicious!

Strawberry Jam by special request in February

We have quite a variety of jams in the larder, but not the one most desired at the moment by Mr M.  After buying and consuming a jar of some of the finest Waitrose had, I decided to get some strawberries when we were at Warwick market and make some more.  With the warmer weather we have been having, it quite something to be able to have tea, scones and strawberry jam in the garden.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Organic Seville Oranges and Lemons from Waitrose for Marmalade

Usually I get my Seville oranges as soon as they appear at the market, but this year I spied that Waitrose was stocking Organic Seville Oranges.  I prefer not to make the whole year's supply all at once, so have stashed away a couple of bags of prepared fruit in the freezer..  The oranges were a little smaller than non organic ones, but the thought of no spray residues on the skins enticed me.  With Organic Lemons as well, a very tasty and nicely set Marmalade is now waiting for the the first of 2012 Club share, together with one of the Pear Chutneys.  For those who really do not like marmalade, may I suggest Apricot Jam with Kernels, which will be next month's jam.  There are a few 'spare' jars of last years preserves available as extras, so if anyone wants to expand their collection, just ask.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

First preserve for 2012

This week at the market, there was a pyramid of apricots, golden in the low sun, brought in from somewhere south of the Tropic of Capricorn.  They were firm and not too ripe, just right for preserving. With 3Kg of fruit, I delved through my various books for interesting recipes, but decided to use a well tried recipe, which entails cracking the stones, to extract some of the almonds. This adds a real depth of flavour as if amaretto had been added to the conserve. 

I must also write down the necessity for seeking out all those tiny bits of kernel which fly across the kitchen  and bury themselves behind pots and under units!!  Tomorrow I shall design a label and get the jars ready for the first share out of the year 2012.  I potted a variety of jar sizes.