Thursday, 11 July 2013

Rose Petals conserved in a wonderful jam

During these last few days of warm sun and still evenings, I'm been aware of the wonderful scents from the garden roses.  One of best being from the Red rose growing over the arch: Etoile to Hollande.  The same red rose which I have made into numerous posies for friends and which a few years back even graced our Christmas table.

It got me thinking:  if elderflowers with their perfume bring so much to a cordial or conserve, and rose water is used in desserts then how about capturing the warm scent of summer of deep red roses.  I scoured through my books and found none which used rose petals in jam.  I can't imagine that I am the first to think of this, and went on line to check this out....yes roses can be used but nip off the little white bit at the base of the petals.  I could not find out why but as this was the first time I would be using roses, I followed that instruction.  Some said add rose essence at the end.  I do have some rose water but decided not to add this, as I wanted to see if the roses alone would add the subtle aroma I was looking for, and be in balance with the rhubarb and apple.

I've devised this original recipe using my first bundle of rhubarb from my new plant from the garden, some cooking apples, and lemon juice.  I used some preserving sugar as I know that rhubarb is low on pectin, and as a result got a very good set.  Next time I shall try using more lemons and just standard sugar.  I may also cook the apple separately to a puree then add that to the macerated rhubarb.  However I do think the apple bits which held together as they had been through the maceration process does look pretty.  I await comments from the preserve tasters.

I left the dry fruit to marinate in the sugar until it has shrunk and was swimming in its own juice. Just before it was time to cook up the fruit, I found the tall ladder and climbed to the top to cut off stems of lovely open roses, and sat on the patio, pulling off all the petals, and washing them gently in cool water.  Less deadheading this weekend........

As the whole was warming, I added the petals, minus the little white bits at the base,  and soon a wonderful dark red damask looking mixture was developing.  The taste is glorious  but with the smell still hanging around, and my taste buds overwhelmed, I shall wait a couple of days before trying it properly.  

Roll on Saturday, less dead heading, and time to sit and savour this jam with warm home made scones in the garden!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam

Since coming back from holiday, we've been sticking wonderfully to our resolution of going out for long walks at least once a week.  Walking through field and woods and enjoying the sights and smells of the wild flowers and birdsong. 

Well away from a road, and crop spraying I found a wonderful elderberry bush fragrant with the pollen on its newly opened we had to stop and came away with a large carrier bag full.  The extra pockets in my walking trousers always house a bag for foraging! 

The previous day I had spied some wonderful small gooseberries at the market, but with an eye watering price...but they were local and I imagined the pricks of the pickers and succumbed, having got a little mark down as I bought over a kg, made up from several small punnets.  I love it that this market holder will decant the fruit into brown paper bags and reuse the plastic tubs.

I started by using the scissors to top and tail the gooseberries, but found that nipping them with finger and thumb did a much better job.  It took ages, and in the end finished this jam around midnight!

I wanted to made a green jam...and these little gooseberries looked a little under ripe, often the best for pectin etc...but the jam did turn a delightful blush colour in the end, so the berries must have been on the ripe side.  I wonder if there will be some elderflower petals in the jam.  If I lived in the really great gooseberry growing areas, I might be able to ask someone for their thinnings, which would give green jam!

Apricot and Ginger Conserve

A few weeks back I made this jam the day after I saw a large pile of rosy apricots at my local market.  I just knew that they would be perfect for a batch of jam, without knowing exactly which recipe I would try out.

After leafing through half a dozen books, I chose this one from The WI's Book of Preserves...I wanted to see whether I agreed with the author's view that this was her favourite recipe in the book.  Without trying every other one, I don't think that I would very truthfully be able to comment. 

When making a new preserve which isn't just the pure fruit, and have added spices or 'bits', I usually wait with baited breath for my chief taster's opinion.....'yes its really lovely', and he liked the ginger bits too!  I of course love out of the ordinary as well as classic preserves....

Its more or less a standard Apricot Jam with equal weight prepared fruit to sugar, with kernels added and some crystallized ginger roughly chopped added.  I had 1.2 Kg fruit and added 50 g ginger.  The balance is about right, still the smooth sharpness and wonderful colour of the apricots with the occasional pocket of gingerness! 

We have had it on some of my homemade soft breakfast bread and also on yogurt and rice pudding. 

Used to cover a chocolate cake before spreading the chocolate ganache...resulted in a very classy cake.