Saturday, 22 May 2021

Chunky Apricot Chutney made with Fresh Apricots

 Of the several books on preserving that I have on my shelves, I often find recipes that are just slightly pushing the envelope in Sensational Preserves by Hilaire Walden.  I've had it for years, having bought a old copy from the Library, on the trolley of 'discards'.  I see that second hand copies are reasonable, and would recommend this title.

Today I bought a tray of apricots from Wells Fruit and Vegetables, with the view of making jams or preserving them.  I had never made a chutney with fresh apricots, the recipe and technique in Sensational Preserves very much appealed to me. 


I have adapted the recipe to use the ingredients I had and also use my lovely locally made Cider Vinegar.

Fruit and onions weighed after preparation

1Kg Apricots : washed, the stone cut out, and each half cut into nine pieces

100g sultanas

100g finely chopped onion

3 cloves of garlic, and a piece of peeled ginger about 3cm cubed, finely chopped.  I keep a little stash of peeled fresh ginger in the freezer, and it is very easy to spice it finely and chopped crossways.


1 tsp whole coriander seeds, gently crushed in a pestle and mortar

1 tsp natural salt

300g light muscovado sugar

300ml or grams organic cider vinegar



Put all the ingredients in a large pan, bright to a gentle boil, and as soon as the apricots are tender, remove them to a dish.  I had to drain them a couple of times. 

Tender Apricot pieces are drained off

Of course there will be other bits with them, but the idea is that the vinegar/sugar mixture is then reduced over a medium heat.  When the sauce is thick and syrupy, off the heat the fruit is then combined back.  Mix well and pot up whilst hot in cleaned and heated jars, and cover with vinegar proof lids.  

This quantity makes four 340g jars of Chunky Apricot Chutney

This chutney needs to be stored in a cool dark cupboard for at least a month, before using, whichhelps the flavours to develop.

This is a Chutney with chunks of apricot, and I see this complementing not only 'cold cuts', but going very well alongside tagines, and other dishes from the Levant.  I often make a salad of mixed cooked or roasted  cold vegetables,  with cooked beans or chickpeas, and mixed with a little olive oil, this chutney would be a delicious dressing.  Folded through some mayonnaise and a little turmeric and cold chicken it would be a take on Coronation Chicken. 

I will probably made an Apricot and preserved ginger jam tomorrow, and an apricot, and pistachio bake of some kind.


Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Romanesco Kimchi with curried spices

 Isn't it good that one can preserve vegetables, and made a nutritious food to store, without vinegar or added sugar?

Of course I love achards and thought to capture some of that flavour in a lacto ferment.  With heavy rain double reasons for staying inside, the other is with the big C almost everywhere needs pre-booking, some kitchen therapy works well for keeping me focused.

Having made Kimchi on my course and reading through Curried Kimchi in Fermentation by Asa Simonsson, I felt inspired to experiment a little.

What could be more beautiful in the veggie world than a well grown Romanesco?  Answers below, if you wish!  Probably something else one has grown oneself?  I picked this beauty up at the market, and assembled the rest.  Colin from Honey Pot Farm was delivering our order of Apple Juice and Cider Vinegar, so asked him to make up a fruit and veg box too, so I had a lovely cabbage to hand.


Now for the chopping stage: separating the tiny shapes which mimic the whole, by slicing through to have small pieces was easy.  Then I thought to grate the stalks, but one or two strokes, proved unsatisfactory.  I love chopping so cutting up all the stems was quite interesting as I played at getting different cross sections.


Lots of knife work to achieve a bowl full


A soak in brine for a few hours or overnight,  well submerged, then after being drained, keep some of the water should you need it for the blending and bottling part,  and mixed with the spices, the jar is rammed down, and sealed so that  the fermentation can begin. A daily burp for the next two or three weeks, then refrigeration...I have found an easy method of keeping the veg below the surface, by using just the right sized plastic top from my large yogurt pots, usually kept for freezing soup, can be bent slightly and fits just below the neck.  With a few holes pierced in it for the gasses to escape, then lids are no longer viable for freezer work, but I get two a week in any case from my sheep's yogurt.


400g Romanesco, chopped up

200g White Cabbage, sliced finely

150g carrots sliced in fine pieces

1 litre boiled water with 40g pure sea salt cooled to make up the brine

2 garlic cloves

Fresh ginger about thumb size

20g garam masala

10g fennel seeds ground

1.5 tsp turmeric

5g cayenne powder

some twists of ground black pepper.


Blend a ladle of the drained vegetables, with all the spices, using a little of the drained liquid to get a good paste, which you then add to the vegetables.  Roll up your sleeves, and with well washed hands,  rub everything together well. Pack the mixture pushing well as you go, with your hand or anything else that will do the job! I of course, used my pickle packer Christmas present!

Make sure the vegetables are fully submerged, and seal in a fermentation jar.  I like to keep a dish under the jar, to protect the surface from any liquid that may ooze from the jar. After three weeks or so, I shall pot these into smaller jars, maybe give one away, and the rest will be in the fridge and used for lunches etc. 

Do read up on how to make lacto ferments and make sure you work in a clean and hygenic way.





Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Roasted Red Pepper and Chili Sauce

I am writing this up after making a small batch, as it has proved to be excellent, and I will certainly want to make this again!




I bought some of those small sweet red peppers from the market, and also had a couple of long sweet pointed red peppers in the fridge:

450g Red Peppers
1 tbsp olive oil
110g cooking apple, peeled and chopped.
110g red onion, peeled and chopped
6 home grown red hot chillis...or to taste, deseeded and chopped small
1 Large twig thyme + 1 large stem of parsley + 1 bayleaf + 10cm fresh tender rosemary + 1/2 tsp fresh green coriander seeds + 1/2 tsp whole black pepper corns + 3 allspice whole berries
300ml water

175cl cider vinegar
50g soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cornflour


Roast the sweet peppers, drizzled with a little olive olive oil,  in a hot oven till the skin starts to char slightly, and the peppers are soft.  Remove from the oven, and cover with a baking tray to trap the steam.  As soon as they can the handled, remove the stalks, and seeds, and remove the stalks from thyme and rosemary.

Put all the above ingredients down to the water in a pan with a lid, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes on the top of the stove, till soft.  Remove the bay leaf, and the parsley stalk, and blitz till smooth.  It could be strained at this stage, but I like a little texture.

Add 150 cider vinegar and the soft brown sugar and salt, and cook for a further 25 to 30 minutes, stirring from time to time, with the lid off.  When it is reasonably thick...stir in the cornflour cut with the remainder of the vinegar, cook for a further 10 minutes stirring all the time.  Pot in small pots which have been sterilized.  Store in the fridge for use within three weeks or so, or freeze.  I am sure you could also store in a dark cupboard.



Friday, 23 August 2019

Runner Bean Chutney

Its that time of year again when I have just a few runner beans to spare.  I have one wigwam, with about seven plants.  The variety is Moonlight and has white flowers, and nicest of all is self fertile.  Several neighbours and friends have had a handful or so...


Last week I had a good kilo so decided to make runner bean chutney.  I scoured my preserves books, but could not find one I liked....and on the internet came across Nigel Slater's Runner Bean Chutney.

I altered the recipe but generally kept to his technique, omitting the tomatoes and using only cider vinegar.  Although I make quite a few 'mustard' based pickles, the addition of the allspice berries gives a wonderful aroma and flavour. 



This gave 5 350g jars plus a smaller 250g one.

2 medium onions
150ml cider vinegar
8 allspice berries
1tsp coriander seeds...I used fresh green seeds from the garden
1 Kg prepared runner beans
1tbsp English Mustard Powder..Coleman's of course
2tsp grain mustard
2tsp tumeric
150ml cider vinegar
200g granulated sugar
1 heaped tsp sea salt
30g cornflour

For method check out the link to Nigel Slater's recipe.  The jars are maturing in the dark.....

The colour is fantastic....to lighten up gloomy winter days....

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Mango Lime and Cardamom Jam

I was looking for apricots from South Africa to make up some jam, as I had missed the Northern Hemisphere season last Summer.  For whatever reason these have been very scarce or maybe it is not quite yet the season.  The few I have seen have been in covered plastic tubs, and I am really trying to buy as much fruit and vegetables loose.  On the other side of the isle in the supermarket, beautiful mangoes were on special offer.....I usually make chutney with mangoes, but bought with only imagination to inspire since, since I this was going to be the first taste of  any mango jam in my life.

I still have a few limes in the freezer and wanted to try some cardamom to give a added layer of flavour.  Again I have followed Christine Ferber's technique which gives a jelly like preserve through which the small chunks of mango are suspended.

I prepared by nearly ripe mangoes to get 1Kg prepared flesh.  For this I used four large mangoes, but the odd taster as I went along.  They were delicious to start with, and quite ready to eat raw.


Having first washed the outside of the mango well in plenty of cold water, ith a very sharp paring knife I first peel of the skin.  Then remove each cheek, and finally the sides etc, and start to chop up the flesh carefully, as I don't want squashed flesh.  The pieces do shrink a lot while they are steeping overnight.



When I got to 1Kg prepared fruit I stopped...


All of this goes into the preserving pan, with the juice of two small limes, three crushed green whole cardamom pods and 800g granulated cane sugar.  I use Tate and Lyle as I know this to be cane and not beet sugar.  In just a few minutes standing the juices are drawn out of the mango, so there is no water at all in this recipe.



As soon as it starts to simmer,  it is drawn off the heat source, and then the whole lot is left overnight...this is when a lot more liquid is extracted from the mango.  As it was cool in the kitchen overnight the pan just stayed on the stove, but in summer, the mixture should be put into a glass bowl and put in the fridge.

The smell of mango in this mixture reminds a little of the smell of gorse in full sun with hints of pineapple and coconut.  Does anyone else get this smell from mango?

In the morning, whilst my washed jam jars and lids are slowly being heated up to 80C in the oven, I start to boil up the jam.  As it comes to the boil I add from my large pot of apple stock jelly 200g, and add this to the mixture.  I stayed by pan, and stirred occasionally through the rolling boil just to ensure that nothing caught at the base of the pan.

This time there was no scum to remove, and after 10 minutes rapid boiling, I had the 105 C.  Off with the heat, and a little standing around for 20 minutes or so, so that the fruit is nicely suspended into the jelly, and it was time to pot up the mango jam.  I like to see the cardamom seeds suspended in the jam but remove the husks before potting up.  I always use a soup ladle and a jam jar funnel to make the task as easy as possible.


Now to design my labels!!

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Friday, 18 January 2019

Pineapple and Passion Fruit Jam

Back in the Summer I made Pineapple and Passion Fruit Jam using Christine Ferber's techniqueUsing this technique the pieces retain a good shape and are on the firm side, which is excellent for topping yogurt, or putting on as a garnish for a cheesecake or other desert.

This time I wanted to make a jam more in the traditional British format for putting on brioche etc.  Also I wanted to get on and make the jam just at one hit.  I had bought a pineapple a few days ago, and we just did not feel like eating it fresh.  Maybe it is the cold wintry weather.  As I had some passionfruit 'lurking' in the fridge, marrying them seem the obvious way of preserving the fruit for a later date.

1 Medium pineapple, 550g after preparation
125g water
Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon
3 passion fruit just the pulp, juice and seeds
400g sugar

The prepared fruit was weighed, the lemon zested, then juiced



The fruit was then chopped into smaller chunks, then put in a pan with 125g water, and the lemon zest and simmered till soft, and almost all the liquid evaporated. This took about 30 minutes.

With my wand blender I further chopped the pineapple with just three small bursts...I did not want a puree....To this I added all the other ingredients, and boiled till 105 C and the fridge test showed a skin.  Three medium jars of jam.......


The taste is fresher and less sweet...but I will work on on recipe for the other technique next time there is a 'surplus' pineapple.