Saturday, 7 October 2017

Pear Lemon and Lime Marmalade with cardamon

Its that time of the year again...Pear season.  We came away from visiting our dearly beloveds with a large basket of pears.  With pears there is the day they are perfect, and then afterwards it is a fast decline.  With a few set down in the freezer poached in port and vanilla, its time to come up with some preserves for the store cupboard.

Back in 2013, I made a delicious Pear and Lemon Marmalade.  I wanted to make a preserve this morning, but only had three organic lemons in 'store', and with it being cold and miserable, just did not want to go out to get more.  There were some organic limes ready for a desert, so a few of them were commandeered to join the preserve.

At knitting on Thursday Maggie was explaining a 'Victorian' Christmas cake recipe, where everything was made in the same pan, to avoid as much washing up as possible!  Well they did not have running hot water and detergents, and washing up must have been quite a chore.  I can hear Mr M saying 'it still is'.  Well he is away, and it is I who will be doing all the washing up.

This marmalade was therefore all made in the same pan: the pressure cooker.

I took 400g combined weight lemon and limes, first carefully washed, then chopped them into quarters, extracted the juice, then put the fruit skins and pips and cooked them for 12 minutes at full pressure with 500ml of water.  Meantime I skinned and chopped 800g pears, and tossed them in the remaining lemon and lime juice.

When the peel was sufficiently cool, after the membranes were scrapped off, the peel with all its pith still attached was finely chopped.  ( The last little detail was added for Jason who asked the question).  The pith really turns to a soft jelly like edge to the peel, and gives a good mouth feel in the final marmalde.

Thchopped peel was then put back into the pressure cooker with the chopped pear, and brought to pressure for another five minutes.  Meanwhile I pushed the pulp which includes the internal juicy parts of the lemons and limes, the scrapping and pips through a sieve, and this was then added with 650g sugar, to the pressure cooker as soon as it was cool enough to open. You are left with just a the pips and the bits which could not pass the sieve which go in the bin.  This is when the tablespoon of cardamon pods are added.  I had thought of adding juniper berries as I had done with Lime Marmalade once...maybe another time.

The next stage of boiling up the marmalade was done with the lid off!!!!  Towards the end of cooking when the temperature was about 103 C I fished out the pods, and using two forks, to prevent burning, I squidged out the seeds which went back in the pan, then just within few minutes and the magic 105 C was reached.

Of course the marmalade is rather fruity, but with just 650g sugar there are only two medium and two large jars.

All that chopping and washing up for just four will be worth it, I hope!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Somerset Courgette and Apple Chutney

This is a new Chutney Recipe, devised to have a truly local chutney.  In what sense local?  Is it traditional....most probably not!  It does contain courgettes grown in my garden, and apples from Andrew opposite, and local Somerset Cider from Honey Pot Farm.  Organic onions bought locally and soft brown sugar from Mauritius.


1Kg small courgettes chopped to the size you would like to have in the chutney
500g cooking apples
600g brown onions, chopped small
6 cloves of garlic cut into slithers
500g soft brown sugar
700g organic cider vinegar
1.5 tbs cornflour

1 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp fenugreek
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp celery seeds
3 tsp light mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 chilli, chopped small.

Chop the courgettes, and put them in a bowl and toss with 1 tbs sea salt, and leave whilst you prepare the following, which allows for water to be drawn out.  Just before adding them to the preserving pan, put into a colander and press down to remove any liquid.

In your preserving pan, or large pan, or pressure cooker base, warm the vinegar and add all the spices...keep this on a very low heat whilst you chop the ingredients: Chop the apples small and the onion and garlic...putting them in the vinegar as you go along.  Remove a few tablespoon of the vinegar to a small dish or cup, and when cool stir in the cornflour.

Add the soft brown sugar to the preserving pan and stir until dissolved.  Boil up and then simmer gently for about five minutes, then add the drained courgettes.  Heat up till boiling again then reduce to a simmer for another five minutes or so. I like a tiny bit of bite to the vegetables, so keep an eye on the timings and the texture, stirring from time to time.

Add the cornflour to the pan, and stir carefully throughout the chutney, and the whole lot should be nicely thickened, but it will thicken more on cooling.

Pot up into sterilized jars.  I do this by washing the jars and rinsing them, then placing them in an oven at about 100 C for fifteen minutes.  The lids I add to a basin, add boiling water to cover, and place this in the oven at the same time.  I like to add the chutney to warmed jars, but the lids need to be dried off with a clean kitchen towel.

I love the way that by making chutneys, one can transform and preserve fruit and vegetables to make a tasty condiment, to be put in store, and used later. Using up plentiful local ingredients is one of the pleasures of in a county where the art of cider vinegar making is being continued by even small orchard and cider makers, it would be remiss not to seek out different ones.  My current batch of chutneys are from a cider vinegar which is truly fruity.  I am sure that cider vinegars change from year to year, and from maker to maker and I look forward to seeking out different ones.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Apricot and Lemon Verbena Jam

What's in a name:  Jam, conserve, compote, marmalade?  Its too hot today to dissect and analyse the origin and difference between the nomenclature of sweet preserves.  I'm going to throw all the words into the 'jamming pan'.  You and I can add more fruit, or less sugar.  If it is to your taste, and you enjoy it, and make sure it is well kept, so as not to induce tummy problems...then enjoy your preserve!  One of the jams I enjoy the most is made from Apricots.

Today I picked up a Kilo of Apricots from the Wednesday market in Wells, and was delighted that they were put into a paper bag....not the 5 or 6 to a plastic tub with film that is not recyclable which have been the only source from Tesco's recently.  The only way forward to try to buy unpackaged fruit.

I have yet to decided which jam to make:  will it be Apricot and Ginger, Apricot and Orange Marmalade, or Apricot and Pistachio? Which reminds me...I have yet to post the recipe for Apricot and Lemon Verbena Jam which I recently made.

Lemon Verbena is my recent most favourite herb picked from the garden.  I have the mother plant bought back in 2015, which having outgrown its pot is now in the garden, a second one from a cutting taken last year, and several more cuttings hopefully growing little roots .  It is delicious just chopped up on fruit like pineapple, melon, etc.  I love to make a cup of hot tea too with its crushed leaves.

This is a straight forward apricot jam, to which I add the blanched kernels, and about six leaves of lemon verbena finely chopped at the time I added the sugar to the cooked fruit.  Delicious.  Next time I would, in addition,  add the same amount of chopped leaves a minute or two before taking the jam off the heat, to add that bright green speckle.

All bottled up

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Seville 2017

During the first week in may be as warm here in Wells as it is in Seville...I have to keep reminding myself that it is April and not May or June!

We have finished the last of the 2016 Vintage of Seville Marmalade, which was made from 2015 it was time to make a new batch this weekend.  The Seville Oranges have been in the freezer for just a few weeks, and with some lovely fresh unwaxed lemons, I got 1 Kg fruit out to defrost on Friday.  Normally I would cook the fruit whole and cut after cooking, but this time, having felt the defrosted fruit, found that they were quite soft.  I chopped the peel finely, and added it to the 1 litre water in the pressure cooker, wrapped the segments and seeds in a muslin cloth and put that in the water too.  The whole lot was left to macerate till this morning.

I cooked up the fruit for 12 minutes in the New Pressure Cooker...12lbs pressure, they squeezed the bag of pulp and pips, and then added the sugar, and followed the usual boiling up, testing of temperature and also saucer test.  Can you see my new toy?  Well toy it is not...this is my new SuperFast Thermapen...what a boom, it takes just a few seconds to give an accurate read out.  It is MADE IN ENGLAND!  My old probe has lasted over twenty years...but you  had to hold it in the jam for ages as it took so long to get a reading!  It was my breadmaking friend Nigel who first showed this instrument to me via Facebook, for testing that bread was done...and I was hooked!

This year I have decided to make a preserve with less 1 Kg fruit, I added the juice of two lemons, and 1.5Kg sugar, rather than 2Kg.

Most of the jars finished off as a classic Seville Marmalade...but I could not resist a little whiskey in two smaller jars!  Will Mr M who definitely does not like whiskey take to the Whiskey Marmalade?

Classic and Whiskey Seville Marmalade

Rhubarb, fig and orange jam

What could I make with just 400g rhubarb that would tickle my fancy?  I let the thought settle, and wondered what I could friend Maggie agreed that figs do go well, and that she had a recipe, which I was welcome to.  I just could not wait.....

Out came 250g of my Dried Greek Figs from Persepolis, which I chopped small, and soaked overnight 

Exceedingly good figs

in the juice of two organic oranges.  I had to go into Wells for more sugar, and I saw some very good organic juicing oranges in Tesco.  I removed the outer peel to go into the rhubarb before juicing the fruit.
Organic juicing oranges from Tesco

I used 400g sugar to macerate the rhubarb, and the following day rubbed half a sachet of Tate & Lyle's powdered pectin into a further 100g sugar, then brought the whole lot to the boil, and tested and found a good setting point at 105 C

Here are his and hers jams...what's mine is mine, and what is his could be mine too!  But then I may just let him taste and have some of mine.  I got five small but absolutely delicious jars with one of my favourite fruits, which usually I use fresh...figs.  These are very fragrant even when dried, so would absolutely recommend them, as the flavour is very good in the jam.

The 1Kg rhubarb yielded 5 larger jars of Rhubarb and Ginger Jam.

Rhubarb and double ginger jam

This month's WI in wells had a bring and buy stall for cakes, cookery books etc.  I came home with a couple of bundles of rhubarb, which I carried home in my small backpack...watching my shadow which was rather amusing!

The following day, having washed and prepared the stems, and having chosen a couple of recipes, and deciding how I would adapt them...then started the macerating process.  I left the rhubarb and ginger mixed with sugar in a covered bowl overnight, and by the next morning the rhubarb had shrunk and most of the sugar was dissolved.

Mr M likes rhubarb and ginger jam..and I decided to do a double ginger and rhubarb jam with 1 Kg of the prepared rhubarb.  In the first instance I very finely chopped a piece of ginger about the size of my thumb.  I had started to grate it and seeing the fibre reminded myself that this is not at all appertizing..and remembered that last time when I made Mango chutney the very fine julienne type strips were much better.  The second hit of ginger comes from some finely sliced crytallised ginger...I did not have the syrup type preserve in the cupboard.  I used 1 Kg standard cane sugar, a lemon, grated and juiced, and half a sachet of pectic, as Mr M likes his jam well set!

Pomelo Marmalade

i've made marmalade with tiny Kumquats but this is my first with the giant of the citrus world.  I've had my eye on these great big fruits for some years, but had never got round to buying one.  They are the biggest citrus fruit...Citrus maxima.  Each year they used to have them at the market in Kenilworth, where they were neither netted or covered in plastic.  Next year I shall keep an eye out for unpackaged fruit.  I say this because having just opened the first jar a couple of days ago, both Mr M and I agree that this is a winner, having an excellent flavour and very good set.

1 Pomelo weighing just over 1 kilo
3 Lemons...everything but the skin.
0.5 litres water
1Kg standard cane sugar

I first washed the Pomelo is very hot water as I was not sure whether or not it was waxed.  The skin is thick and pulpy and the membranes exceeding tough.  The flesh has big juice vesicles, and the taste is not at all bitter and quite sweet.  The fruit, cut into segments,  together with the lemons peeled, was cooked in the pressure cooker for 12 minutes.  I then sieved everything but the skin.  Sieving  is quite hard as the membrane is still really tough and much remains in the sieve.  The cooked skin and its pith was cut into fine slices.  Then the sugar was added, and following usual marmalade techniques I stopped at 105 C, and checked for setting on a cold plate.

Total yield 4 of my large jars (340g), and 2 mediums ones (250g).

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Mango Chutney...two ways

I was lucky enough to find a good box of Mangoes this week, with around fifteen fruit, there was sufficient to make my tried and tested Mango Chutney, and also try a different type of Mango Chutney which uses a different technique and is darker and spicier.

For the first batch I made a further slight adaptation to the Mango Chutney I made last year and the year before.  Instead of laboriously peeling the ginger and chopping it, I gave it a good brush under a running hot tap, then liquidised it with some of the vinegar with my handheld  blender before putting it into the preserving pan with the rest of the ingredients.  Also instead of sweet red pepper I used a teaspoon and a half of my Cornish Chilli Sea Salt.

For the other half of the Mangoes I chose a recipe from the Women's Institute Book of Preserves.  True to myself I did alter it a little and changed the technique to suit my liking for some whole seeds, and used organic Biona Cider Vinegar as a matter of course, rather than malt vinegar.

Mangoes about 1.5Kg prepared and chopped flesh, slightly under ripe
350g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large tsp coriander seeds
1.5 tsp Nigella Seeds
1 tsp light mustard seeds
1 level tsp turmeric
50g fresh ginger
400ml cider vinegar
4 cloves of garlic
1 medium brown onion chopped finely
1tsp Cornish Chilli Sea Salt

I left the Mango pieces to steep in the soft brown sugar all Friday afternoon, and slowly the sugar drew out the juice from the pieces which were shrinking!!!! So that evening I chose to make both batches of chutney at the same time.

In a small frying pan I heated through the cumin and coriander seeds gently until I could smell their aroma, then ground them in my spice mill with the turmeric and sea salt to give it some bulk.  Then I gently heated up the mustard seeds and Nigella Seeds but kept these whole.  The ginger was carefully brushed under the hot tap, then with the skin on, was sliced then added to half the vingar with the garlic, and blended together in a small jug, using the hand held electric blender.

All the ingredients then went into the jamming pan.  There was more liquid than for the other chutney as there was the juice drawn out of the mango, so it needed quite a bit longer to boil down to get to the right consistency, and therefore for the same amount of fruit gave less chutney.  It is a darker, sticker, more spicy and aromatic chutney and it will be very interesting to compare them in a couple of months when they are matured a little more.

Here are the jars...the smallest jar is a blend of both...well I didn't want to have to waste any?  If you have only had Mango Chutney with curries, then you are in for a treat if you try it in a cheese sandwich, or laced through a sauce to accompany duck.  Alongside a cheesy cauliflower cheese  it gives that edge of sweetness and spice, and with a chunk of freshly baked bread, a supper good enough for the most discerning palate!