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.

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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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.

 

 

Tamarillo Kasundi

10 days ago, more random free fruit came into my life. In this case, 800g of home grown tamarillos that needed a good home. Now I am really not familiar with tamarillos. I think I’d only ever handled and tasted one once before, around 20yrs ago. I had a vague memory that they were a bit like tomatoes. So I thought I might make a chutney or something from them. A bit of reading confirmed the tomato similarity. In fact they are called “tree tomatoes” in some places. That made me smile.

Here is my lot, with their ends slit prior to being covered with boiling water and peeled.

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See, they do look tomatoes inside, though the outer flesh seems a bit starchier. Here are a few peeled and halved:

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Then yesterday, a friend was talking about the indian pickle “kasundi”, usually made from tomatoes. Add to this that there was a preserve I used to love that was sold as “Indian tomato pickle”. I’ve long thought that might have been a kasundi relative. So I started looked for recipes. I couldn’t find a straight tamarillo kasundi recipe, but this recipe suggests one can use tamarillos as a substitute for some of the tomatoes. I decided to use their recipe as a base, and bravely make it up with my 800g tamarillos plus white grapes and green apples to make up the other 700g. Well, one can substitute all over the place with chutney, so why not try?

So I’ve used:
800g tamarillo flesh (peeled, destalked and cut into eighths)
~500g white grapes, halved
~200g green apples, peeled, cored and chopped
hing powder instead of the garlic to make it allium free (3 good shakes from the jar)
20 of my tiny thai chillis
crushed ginger from a jar

Otherwise, I’ve followed the recipe attached above.

Below is the mixture after all was in the pot, before bringing to a simmer.

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Those apples refused to break down and needed to be mashed late in the cooking. The grape skins also didn’t break down as well as I’d hoped. Still, it smells amazing and if I make it again, it will most likely be from tomatoes, unless more tamarillos materialise.

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Fettiplace Pickled Mushrooms

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Based on “To pickle mushrooms” from Elinor Fettiplace’s receipt book. This welcome survivor holds extensive treasures of 17thC cooking.

400ml white wine
6 peppercorns (should be white, I used black being what I had)
half a nutmeg
a blade of mace
3cm ginger root, peeled and sliced

Simmer all above, covered, for 10min. Cool.

600g button mushrooms (one full standard mushroom bag)
heaped teaspoon salt

Heat gently in a wide pan, shaking or stirring frequently. They will release moisture. Continue heating slowly until the mushrooms are tender and the liquid has almost all gone. Cool.

When all is cool, load the mushrooms to a sterilised jar and pour the spiced wine over. The picture above shows the entire recipe in one pickle jar. Mushrooms sure shrink when cooked!

They came out really well and kept happily for the couple of weeks needed. The flavour is much milder than regular pickles. Slightly salty. They made an excellent lunch component. I’ll make a lot more next time. A fellow cook tells me these are amazing in a toasted cheese sandwich.

Blood Plum Fest

I said I wanted some plums to bulk out my teeny tiny crop of damsons. A friend of mine is in the process of selling her house and she offered me some of her last crop of mariposa plums. I offered to help her pick them. Ta da, a lovely time picking, chatting and meeting one of her other friends ensued and I got what turned out to be 9.4kg of plums to take home!

What few fruit my rather young damson tree offered up this year:
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and the mariposa haul on a very different scale:

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My first aim was to make another batch of the spicey plum sauce I like so much. It’s fabulous with sausages and coleslaw and I’m on my last bottle from the previous batch. It’s basically a ketchup type thing made from plums. The recipe I use is from Stephanie Alexander’s “Cooks companion”. Below is what I did, which is a slight change in method. However, her suggestion of stoning the plums first and using a bag for the stones is a much better plan. Passing the stewed fruit through a sieve gives a lovely texture but is a silly amount of work and my arm is hating me for it.

Spiced plum sauce

1.5kg plums (except I scaled the whole thing up for 2kg of plums)
1 1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp whole allspice
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger (I cheated and used the stuff that comes in a jar)
3 cups cider vinegar
4 tiny hot chillis, seeded and chopped

Bring all to boil until plums collapse.
Pass through a sieve to remove stones and spices.
Boil uncovered until it thickens. Note it thickens further on cooling. (aiming for a bit thicker than regular tomato sauce).
Bottle in sterilised vessels.
Wait at least a month before using.

4 bottles of lovely dark plum sauce:

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Erbowle is a medieval plum pudding thing. It is basically plums stewed in wine, passed through a sieve, sweetened with honey and flavoured with salt and spices (I used cinnamon, pepper, clove, nutmeg) all to taste. I made it on my recent trip while helping in the kitchen. It occurred to me a little later that I could make it, bottle it and preserve/”can” it by boiling in a water bath. So, I did, though I left out the rice flour thickening for fear it would catch in the water bath boil. Hopefully that separation will stir back in after opening.

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This is a plum chutney I have made before. I made double the recipe and used half again as much sugar, for some crazy reason. Why? Silly me. Next time I’ll try to stick to recipe. It caught a bit towards the end of cooking. I really hope I didn’t burn it. I couldn’t taste burn, but there are so many other strong flavours. Fingers crossed.

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I also made jam. I tend to think that plums need a bit of help in the flavour department to make a nice jam. I’ve used this this rather excellent spicy recipe before and it was lovely in a rather savoury kind of way, so I cooked it again. It makes a very dark jam because of the wine I suppose.

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All the above recipes were done in 2kg batches. The remaining plums I stewed up with a little wine and sugar and froze in batches to eat with my breakfast. Yum.

Sadly, my arm now hates me. Boo. I have a huge list of things I want to do and all.