Raspberry Apple Jelly

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Quick notes for my reference. I had something under a kilo of good berries that I wanted to get out of the freezer.  I didn’t feel like making straight raspberry jam and jelly is easy, though messy to make. It turned out with good colour and flavour. Would have been even better if I hadn’t lost quite a bit of the raspberry liquid in a boil over. Bother.

~900g each raspberries and granny smith apples(washed and roughly chopped)
Put each to a different saucepan, almost cover with water, bring to boil, simmer until soft. Strain both through a jelly bag. This gave 1.5L liquid. Boil down for 30min to 1L. Turn off heat. Add ~900g sugar, stir and wait until dissolved. Bring back to boil for ~20min or until set is achieved. Bottle.

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Damson Jam

I write many of my posts, food posts particularly, mostly as a sort of online journal for my own use. As in: “I know I’ve made raspberry jam before, how did I do it?”. It’s lovely bonus that other people seem to get some enjoyment from reading.

I picked another couple of kilos of slightly riper fruit this morning. I’ve made jam and 600g fruit is set aside (with a banana, covered in paper to ripen further) for tomorrow’s possible curd making experiment.

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This is a basic jam, but it took ages due to the small size of the fruit and the stone removal step.

2.7kg whole fruit (minus 400g stones=2.3kg)
~100ml water
2kg sugar

Rinse and drain fruit. Remove stalks and any nasty looking bits. Cut a slit each plum to help the stones emerge. Weigh. Put in a large pot (I used my 7L stock pot) with a little water over a low heat. Stir fairly often, first until the fruit liquidises, then to keep it from sticking and burning on the bottom of the pot. Continue stewing until the stones start emerging. I tend to encourage this by squishing the reluctant fruit against the side of the pan. It would likely be less work if I were more patient. Lift the stones out with a spoon into a sieve set over a dish. I then rub what plum juice and pulp I can back into the pan, you could not bother if you’d rather. Weigh what you’ve removed so you can judge how much sugar to add. For this, a 2kg bag of sugar was ~0.85:1 ratio, which is about how I like to do jam. Convenient eh?

I then turn off the heat, stir the sugar in gently and leave to sit for up to an hour. This is both to let the sugar dissolve and for me to have a rest. Then bring the pot up to a rolling boil for about 10min or until a set is achieved on testing. Bottle in sterilised jars.

I’m thinking these aren’t wonderful quality damsons. They have many of the characteristics but I haven’t yet managed to ripen them to the lovely dark colour one sees in pictures. I expected more flavour too I suppose. I’d love to know what variety they are, but the tree is from the Flemings range and they don’t give any more information than “Damson”. I’ve left some fruit on the tree to see how it develops over the next week.  On the other hand, I’ve never met fruit I know to be damsons other than mine, only seen pictures and heard descriptions.

 

 

 

Damson Gin Beginnings

The damson harvest has started. They are not as ripe as I would like but I have only a few days to get them processed. This bowl is a neat 3kg from maybe about a quarter of the tree?

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I rinsed and drained them and picked through for the ripest ones. 900g of those have been pricked with a fork and loaded into a sealable jar with about 150g sugar and enough gin to cover (this time ~650ml Houndstooth brand). They look prettily wintery with just the sugar poured in.

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Here with the gin added.

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Now they have to sit in a dark cupboard for a year. Up end the jar a few times early on to dissolve the sugar. Then ignore. At harvest time next year, strain off the liquor and enjoy.

Tomorrow I’ll pick some more and make jam I think, despite the forecast being for horribly hot.

(mostly) Damson Chutney

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I have a young damson plum tree named Dorcas. She is laden with her first decent crop, now netted. I’m keenly monitoring the ripeness of the fruit. It’s starting to soften, I think I’ll be jamming in a few days.

The chutney is from fruit picked early for various reasons.  Mostly because I cut the top of the tree out to both make it easier to net and to keep tree small. Those branches had some underripe fruit which I’ve been ripening indoors. I’m turning this into chutney because any lack of flavour from the fruit will be masked by the heavy spicing.

There was only half a kilo of damsons, so I added some other plums and some cherry flesh that I’d pitted and frozen (they were disappointing eating as fresh fruit).

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I’ve used this recipe. It’s lovely, I’ve cooked it before. I altered the method a bit. Stew the fruit and spices with a tiny bit of water over a low heat until the stones are released. Pick out the stones, rub what fruit flesh came with them through a sieve back into the pot. Add the vinegar and sugar and cook until done.  It was only a tiny batch. ~900g fruit doesn’t fill many jars. Good colour though.

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Pickled Cherries

I saved this recipe from a newspaper back at about the turn of this century. Then I made it up 2-3 years ago. At christmas lunch we finally broached a jar. They were about as amazing as I had hoped, and wonderful with the baked glazed ham. Also grand in a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. So I’ve just bottled another half kilo before cherry season ends.

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Pickled Cherries
1kg cherries
750ml white wine vinegar (I used ACV)
2 cups sugar
6 cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
3 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
9 peppercorns

Bring the vinegar and sugar to boil in a saucepan*. Allow to cool.
Use clean, unmarked fruit. Snip the stems of the cherries back to 1cm. Pack into sterilised jars, fill the jars with the cooled vinegar mixture and seal. Leave for 1-2 weeks (I say years) before using.

*I misread the recipe this time and included the spices in the boil, never mind, other pickle recipes do this.

Christmas Crackers

These are amusing enough that I’ve just made them for the third time. Not my idea. I’ve reconstructed the method from a glimpse of a picture some years ago.

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Take flat breads, these are done with Lebanese bread. Cut into 6-8 wedges. Snip off the bits that stop them looking like trees (kitchen scissors are the easiest tool for this). Lay on oven trays. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and finely chopped rosemary. Bake in ~160C oven for 10-15min until dry. Cool on racks. Bag up until wanted. I make them to serve with pate, but they are just flavoured crackers really so eat them with what you wish.

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The offcuts were tossed with olive oil, spread on an oven tray, sprinkled with a spice mixture and similarly baked until dry and a bit browned. In this case I used cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, chipotle powder, sweet paprika, celery seed. We will eat these as a crispy snack with drinks tonight.

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A gratuitous shot of my beautiful Maurice* who’s flowers were gracing the table.

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*”Maurice Utrillo” A glorious scented and striped rose from Delbard’s Painters range of roses.

Morello Cherries

Hello again. Very long time no post. I’ve been busy travelling, working on gifts and a large project that has so far escaped being posted here. So to get my hand back in, I’ll share with you what I did with my first tiny crop of morello cherries.

Teeny crop. Young tree. First time I’ve had more than one fruit.

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What to do with them? Morello cherries are sour, so they are more for cooking with than simply eating. A friend semi dries hers to good effect. So I pitted and halved them, and dried them in a low oven.

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How to make better use of such tiny scraps of dried fruit? Toast some pistachios, melt some dark choc with a bit of brandy and mix the lot together. The chocolate siezed but blended into a semi truffle sort of consistency.

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I’d not repeat that exact chocolate mix, but the resulting little balls made lovely little morsels. Papa and I demolished them with enthusiasm.

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Pink Quince Chutney

and some other things.

I’ve had a lovely time the last three days, working on making things out of quince for the first time.

Back in June I bought some quinces. I’d been thinking on things that could be used to give character to cider made from boring commercial juice. I got all excited when I thought of quinces! They are in the same botanical family as apples. I’m not alone in this thought. At least one of the Tasmanian cider houses makes a cider partly from quinces. So given we were just past quince season, I thought I’d see if I could still get some. Yes! I bought 4 crazy knobbly yellow quinces. Roughly peeled cored and chopped, rested in water until all were done. Gave 1.5kg (admittedly wetted) quince flesh. I put that in a bag in the freezer to begin the juice process.

Then two days ago I took them out of the freezer, let them defrost a little on their own until the pieces could be broken apart. Put them into the slow cooker, added ~100g sugar (the last of the dextrose I had), a kettle of boiling water and a litre of cold. Left this cooking on slow for 10 hours. Yellow fruit flesh turned pink.

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I’d never cooked quinces before. I was a bit surprised that they taste and smell so marmelady. After musing on that flavour for an hour or so I decided to add a bit of honey. Then added pectinase for juice extraction and clarity. Also a camden tablet to sterilise. Keep it warm 24hrs, then filter through a bag to extract the juice. Combine with commercial apple juice and pitch some yeast to make a cider

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After juice extraction, I was left with about 500ml of pink quince pulp, less than a quarter of the original fruit volume.

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What to do with it? Chutney I concluded. I decided to try to keep the pink colour though. I had fun coming up with a recipe I thought might manage that, and keep the flavour to the elegant, floral side of things. This is what I came up with:

500g quince pulp
6 granny smith apples and one pear, grated (~1.2kg)
~120g strawberries, chopped.
2 handfuls currants
white peach pulp, dried (was from 1kg fruit, used to make cider previously)
500g white sugar
500ml white wine vinegar
1t pink peppercorns (picked locally), coarsely ground with a mortar and pestle
Seeds from 6 green cardamom pods, a bit bashed
1t powdered ginger (because I have way too much in the house)
1/4t rose water
One cassia stick
One whole star anise
Split vanilla pod used twice before
Apple and quince juice from the cider density sample

The spices looking pretty before addition:

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The mixture before cooking:

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Bring the lot to a simmer. There was not a lot of liquid, so I cooked it for half an hour or so with the lid on, then with the lid off for maybe an hour? Until one can expose the bottom of the pan briefly by dragging the spoon through. Turn off the heat and rest for 10 min, then bottle to sterilised jars

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Yay, it stayed pink! Here’s hoping it tastes good too in a month or so after it’s had time to mellow. As is traditional in my kitchen, some of the mostly exhausted spices are doing last duty in stewed fruit for breakfasts. This is 4 large pears, half a punnet of strawberries, about a dessert spoon of sugar, half a glass of white wine and the vanilla and cassia from above.

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Strawberry Sauce and Parfait

It’s a while since I’ve posted food things here. Some of my more experimental recipes get recorded elsewhere. I suppose this blog feels like it’s becoming focussed on fabric, fibre and sewing. I’ll mix it up today with some food.

It’s strawberry season here. I weakened and bought another three punnets a few days ago, so I had to decide on something to turn them into. I settled on a paired set of recipes where one uses the leavings of another, and happily consumes leftover ingredients I happened to have in the house.

 

Strawberry sauce

500g strawberries, washed hulled and halved
200g sugar
~3T lemon juice
the vanilla pod left over from a brewing adventure.
~1/2c white wine

Bring all slowly to a simmer, take off the heat. Mash the fruit until it’s pulpy. Put the lot through a sieve but don’t get too fussy about getting all the juice out. Put the pulp aside and chill it. Put the juice back in the pan and bring back to a simmer for 5min. Bottle into sterilised containers. This made ~400ml.

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Strawberry Parfait/Semifreddo

This is inspired by a Cassata recipe much loved by my family. It’s easy and tasty though one needs to be willing to eat uncooked eggs. I make lots of versions of this.

3 egg whites
small pinch salt
heaped half cup icing sugar
1 cup cream
3 egg yolks
the strawberry pulp from above

Beat egg whites with the salt to firm peaks, slowly beat in sugar. Put aside. Beat cream until firm. Beat in egg yolks. Mix in strawberry pulp. Fold together with the egg white mixture. Freeze.

One can stir it during the freezing so that it doesn’t set so hard, or just leave it and serve in slices.

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Raspberry Sauce and Jam

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I reserved a kilo of locally grown raspberries months ago but only picked them up on Saturday. However, I’ve turned them into bottled things within 48hrs from then.

The sauce is a version of one I’ve made before. This is my first ever raspberry jam though. So I looked about for recipes. I’ve used bits from each of these two. The first one uses a neat trick of including a juiced lemon half in the mix until it’s come to the boil, for both flavour and pectin I suppose. The second precooks half the volume and puts that through a sieve to reduce the seed content. I’ve done both of these things, the latter for the sauce also. So this looks really fiddly, but a) I’m doing two recipes at once and b) you could omit the sieving part if you want.

Prep:
Take 500g raspberries, add juice of one lemon (reserve half the juiced lemon*) heat until mooshy, mash, boil/simmer 5min, push through a sieve.

Sauce:
Take half the resulting liquid, add half the remaining whole fruit(250g) and about a teaspoon more lemon juice. Heat until mooshy, mash. Add 250g sugar. Heat over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolved. Boil gently 5min. Bottle**.  This is wonderful on icecream, or pancakes, and many things I expect.

Jam:
Take the other half of the liquid and the rest of the whole fruit. Heat until mooshy, mash. Add the juiced lemon half and 450g sugar. Heat over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil until set. For me that was only 5-10min. Bottle**.

 

*which I put into the weighed sugar ready for the jam until I got up to cooking that. I don’t know if that had any effect or not.

**sterilised containers of course.