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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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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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.

Peach Chilli Chutney

Long time no post! I’ve been away but now I’m back and there is a backlog of posts to get through. I had three lots of free fruit arrive in my life this week. I’ve been working hard and having fun preserving them.

A friend of mine is an enthusiastic picker of neglected fruit trees. Someone he knows had peach trees with spare fruit, he kindly sent a big bag of them to me. They took a few days to get to me so there was a lot of heavily bruised fruit. The ~4.5 kg of peaches yielded half a kilo of good eating fruit plus 2kg of usable peach flesh.  Processing fruit takes time. It took me an hour to get from bag-o-fruit to that 2kg of chopped flesh ready for cooking.

I used a tweaked and multiplied version of this recipe. I made a slightly different version of it last year and it turned out brilliantly, aromatic and lively. Really nice either with curry or cheese sandwiches. That first batch has all been eaten, so I was glad for the chance to make more.

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2kg peeled and diced peaches (prepared weight)
10 tiny red chillis, deseeded and chopped
2.5 heaped dessert spoon chopped ginger
2.5T cumin seed
seeds from 40 green cardamom pods
500g brown sugar
650ml cider vinegar

Put all of that into a wide pan, bring to boil. Cook uncovered on medium heat until it thickens. Bottle.

When I say tiny chillis, I mean tiny. These are from a plant in my garden. I’m a bit astonished at how small they are. I’ve used them as if they each have the heat of a more regular sized Thai chilli.

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Apricot Chutney and Sauce.

Based on my favourite Apricot Rhubarb chutney but twisted towards orange, inspired by recipes on the net (by Delia and Antony Worrall Thompson). Cooked back in April 2016. I haven’t tried it since the cooking day. Must do that, especially since some of it has already been given away.

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Apricot Orange Chutney:

2 kg apricots, stones removed, halved
zest  and chopped flesh of one orange
1/2c sultanas
500ml (2 cups) cider vinegar
1 c (210g) light muscavado sugar
1 tablespoon ginger, finely grated (well out of a jar)
1 teaspoon salt
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
½ t cloves (lifted out towards the end of cooking)
1/4 t nutmeg, freshly grated
1t tumeric
1 teaspoon coriander seed}
2 t mustard seeds}
½ t cardamom seeds}- dry fried, then partially ground in the mortar
plus the cassia sticks from the sauce below

Heat slowly until sugar dissolved, then boil gently until thickened. Remove cloves and cassia towards end of cooking. Bottle.

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This year’s apricot sauce:
2 kg apricots, stones removed, halved
1kg white sugar
finely grated rind and juice of a lemon
2 cassia sticks

Heat slowly until sugar dissolved.
Ignore with lid on while finishing some other stuff for maybe half to an hour. This allows the cassia to infuse. Remove cassia, blitz apricots, replace cassia, simmer for 10min, remove cassia, bottle.