Friday, 7 October 2016

Plums Galore

This was taken a few weeks ago, and we have just opened the first jar of the plum chutney to have with our lunch:  it was delicious!

Here are half of the plums ready to be cut up for the jam to which a little rum was added, then other half is already being made into Chutney.  Many thanks to Janet for perfect home grown Opal dessert plums.

Candied orange and lemon peel using a pressure cooker

Years ago I would never have thought of making candied peel, but recently I was thinking why not?  When I was about to buy some chopped up candied peel, I was amazed that sulphur dioxide and sulphites are now added...maybe they always were, but now it is mentioned on the container.  I prefer my food without such additives if I can help I had a little session of making candied peel.  Here are the results...a tray full drying off in the sunshine in the Conservatory.  

The reason I am posting about this, is that I took a pot full to Marie Claire, a couple of days ago.  I handed it to her hubby, who said MC would be delighted.  Her sister makes it, but guards the recipe.   I on the other hand love to share my recipes, and hope people will enjoy making them.

Last night whilst I was out, MC called and chatted to Mr M, and asked for the recipe.  I am sure there are many ways of making candied is how I made this batch, using a pressure cooker to cut out the hours of boiling!

I bought a string of four oranges, and having washed them well, peeled the skin keeping on the pith from three of them, and left the oranges whole in a container in the fridge to eat later.  There also was just one unwaxed lemon available, so this joined the other skins. It is better to use unwaxed and organic citrus fruit if you can find them.

The pieces of peel were left overnight covered with plenty of water in my stainless steel pressure cooker.  In the morning, the water was drained off, and topped up with fresh water, with the pressure cooker now about half full, with the fruit easily covered by the water.

I had to pressure cooker the peel twice, as I felt after the original three minutes, the peel was still not soft enough.  I reckon six minutes at 15lbs pressure will be just right next time. The pressure to come to room temperature gently.  Just lying in the water helps to soften the skins

I have read on the internet that you can do the next part under pressure, but I was not feeling brave enough to cope with very hot sugary liquid and pressure!

I drained off the cooking water, and put the peel on a plate, then returned 100g water and added 200g white granulated sugar to a smaller pan, and over a gentle heat allowed the sugar to gently dissolve.  Then I added the drained peel, brought everything to the boil and then reduced the heat so that it gently bubbled for about five minutes.  I left it on the cooker covered by the pan lid.

The following morning, I brought up the contents of  the pan to a bubbling roll, and then a simmer, as cooked it again until the liquid was much reduced.  The pan was then left to cool down again.

On day three, I drained the peel, put it on a cooling rack, and placed the whole lot over a baking sheet, and placed it in the oven at Gas Mark 1 to 2, and left it there for an hour or so, opening the door from time to time to allow the steam to escape, and check that the peel was not scorching.  The oven was turned off, and the peel just cooled down naturally.  TI could have continued this for longer, but I like my peel quite moist, and as it was sunny, I put the peel out in the sunny conservatory, to it to continue to air dry.

And the lovely tasty orange sugar syrup, is in a jar in the fridge, waiting to be used for brushing on as a glaze on buns and other bakes!

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Plum Jam with rum

It has been plums galore:  a gift from a friend.  I made some plums into jam, and then finished the preserve off with some rum...not just any rum but some of my Rhum Bougainville, Vieux Domaine from Mauritius.  I would perhaps have used Port normally...but we are out of it, and then I spied my bottle of Rhum which I brought back over 10 years ago.

1.3Kg prepared plums..stones removed, and chopped into smallish pieces
1Kg sugar
juice of a lime
2 tbsps rum any dark rum....

The fruit, juice, and hollowed out lime were cooked gently with 400g water for about twenty minutes, before the sugar was added.  Stirring until dissolved, then brought up to a rolling boil, I stirred to pan to avoid any fruit catching, and checked for the 105C point, then also did the plate test.  When I was happy, I allowed the jam to cool, removed the lime skins, and kept stirring a little at first to make sure no scum formed, then added the rum.  Exactly five large 350g jars are now ready to have me design the labels, and store away.

There will be a jar for Janet of course, together with a couple jars of chutney.  When I went to fetch the plums, I took over a jar of my courgette chutney, which having nicely matured is ready for eating.

Plum Chutney with Moroccan Spices

It must be madness to be making chutney or jam when the weather is so hot...but preserve we must whilst the season's pickings are available.  Janet emailed me and kindly offered several pounds of beautiful looking Opal dessert plums, just picked off her tree, which I picked up Friday evening.  I was very pleased to accept as my tree succumbed to disease a couple of years ago.

With the heat, I was just not ready to do lots of research, neither did I want to go out shopping for cooking apples which are normally used in most plum chutneys.  I therefore  decided to revisit Moroccan Spiced Plum Chutney, which I had made back in 2013.  Last time I used Victoria Plums and  white onions, but this time I used red onions and have tweaked the recipe, grinding a mixture of my own spices as I was running out of Ras el Hanout.

1.75Kg Opal Plums, or any other mediums sized plums
625g red onions, peeled and chopped
175g stoned dates, chopped
500g organic cider vinegar
175g soft brown sugar
100g pine nuts, gently roasted
3tsp Ras el Hanout...I ground a blend of Black Peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, green cardamom, dried ginger, turmeric, salt, cinnamon, and dried chilli.
1.5 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1.5 tbsp cummin seeds crushed gently
1/2 tsp salt

The plums were all cut up, after being washed and the stones removed.
They went into the large pan, with all the other ingredients other than the Ras el Hanout and the pine nuts.  After about ten minutes simmering, the rest was added, and with frequent stirring, the chutney started to thicken quite nicely taking another half an hour or so.

Meantime, I had the jars washed, and warming through in the oven.  With a ladle and jar funnel, 7 large and 2 medium jars were filled.  The jars now need to be stored in a dark place, and time allowed for the chutney to mature: two months should do it!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Spicy Mango Chutney with demerara sugar

No pictures of the fruit or the preparation...the chutney was made, potted, labelled and stashed away in the preserve cupboard in very short time.  Made on Friday day, and in the cupboard this morning.

The recipe is very similar to the one I made in 2015, except that I wanted a slightly richer flavour.  I used demerara sugar in place of white, and used some of my Cornish Chilli sea salt, as my little pepper plant is no more.  I also omitted the red sweet pepper.

Earlier this year in February, when there were some magnificent Mangoes in the shops, I made a batch similar to the one in 2015, but without the sweet red pepper, and that is now finished.  A little mango chutney in sandwiches with either cold meats or cheese adds a nice mellow tone.

Strawberry Jam

When my I received a picture of my Grand daughter's jamming session,  I knew it was time to get serious, and make a batch to stash away for the winter.

I picked up several punnets of strawberries in town, and then looked around for sugar.  Mr M likes his jam with a fairly firm set, but can also detect too much lemon juice too.

This year for the strawberry jam, I've resorted to adding Pectin alongside the juice of a lemon.  I did have half of bag of the preserving sugar to use, and had a few bags of the standard granulated sugar.  When I read that the liquid pectin Certo had sulphites as a preservative,

I thought to avoid it, then found some Tate and Lyle Pectin in Waitrose.  This is dried and has no preservatives listed on the packet.

Looking forward to scones and strawberry jam!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Apricot and Pistachio Conserve

There is something about a lovely apricot conserve that captures the essence summer.  The colour is like warm sunshine on golden blooms and fruits, and the flavour is mellow and comforting.  I love to use it to sandwich sponge cakes, to add to my plain sheep's yogurt, or add a dollop to a nice home made rice pudding, or to use in pastries and buns.

Usually I extract the apricot kernels and add that to the jam to give an extra 'amaretto' dimension.  For a change I have been inspired to add pistachios.  Let me confess immediately I love nuts and seeds, and very nearly every time I will go for pistachio icecream.  So I think this will be my preserve of the year.

I present my Apricot conserve with little green kernels of pistachios:

I had bought 1Kg of firm apricots and after preparation got just over 800g of chopped fruit.

rather than add a little water to the fruit, I added the juice of a large orange, a little of its zest, and the zest of a lemon.  The juice of the lemon was added when I added 830g of Tate & Lyle granulated white sugar, and also 50g of coarsely chopped pistacios.

With everything in a large pan..and for this smaller amount, I just used the pressure cooker base rather than my larger jamming pan.

Everything was brought slowly up to boiling, with a few stirs until the sugar had dissolved, then a fast rolling boil, with one of two stirs just to make sure the jam was not catching on the base, until setting was reached.  For the test I used the wrinkly skin on the top of jam cooled on a little plate method.

The batteries on my probe had gone...and I did dismantle it, and 'looked through his man drawer' to see if there were any of the special batteries...but I had to wait for him to come home, pull the wonderful internet to find the 'equivalent' battery, and there was one, but it did not have the same number on it!