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.

 

 

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.

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 Jam 2017

The annual harvest from my friend’s apricot tree happened yesterday. There was much less fruit this year. It wasn’t netted, which is unusual but there seemed to be only modest attack by birds and bats, with no fruit at the top of the tree and very little fallen. We ate a very few (yum). Yield was only 4kg, including decent windfalls and usable sections from partially pecked fruit. There were a few under ripes left on the tree which I mean to collect in a few days. My theory is that perhaps the upper blossom was lost in high winds or storm? That happens in commercial orchards. For comparison, last year we got 15.5kg fruit off the same tree, and that was not a good year because we left it too late.

I decided that jam would take priority. So I’ve cooked 3kg up this morning. 1kg of gleaned and over ripe fruit has been packed into the freezer for later.

Recipe
3kg apricots, destoned and cut in 8ths
{kernels from 1kg
{pits from 1 lemon
{zest of one lemon
above tied in cloth
juice of two lemons
2.5kg sugar
very low heat until liquid
rest 1hr

bring to boil
remove stone bag
boil ~30min, stirring to avoid sticking.

This made 13 jars of apricot jam.

Differences from last year
-using my lump hammer as a tiny anvil for the kernel extraction process. This worked much better than just hammering the stones on wood as I’ve done in the past. One of the few kitchen jobs where safety glasses are well advised to be worn.
-less lemon pits, because I didn’t have any more. I had to boil it for longer to get a set which is likely related. I think I might have managed a better set than last year though? hard to tell until it’s fully cooled.
-The order of operation was a bit different prior to the boil. There was enough juice released before the rest to fluidise the mix but the sugar wasn’t all dissolved. Think I’ll go for just enough heat to dissolve the sugar next year and see if we avoid the foam discussed below.
-The strangest thing was that a remarkably stable foam appeared prior to boil being achieved. I’ve never had this before. I ended up needing to ladle the foam off to stop the pot overflowing.

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A couple of hours later and there is still foam left. It looks like the foam one gets on the top of good fresh squeezed orange juice and the taste is reminiscent of that too. I’m considering popping out for some cream, mixing it up and freezing the result as an experiment?

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And the jam of course. Labels have been printed but won’t be applied until the jars are properly cool.

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Sweet chilli revised

I thought the tiny bit I’d licked off my fingers was super hot. Last night I had a teaspoon of the sweet chilli sauce from this post in a large bowl of noodle soup, and the resulting mix was almost too hot for me to eat. So today I scooped that sauce out back into a pan and added 2 cups sugar, 2 cups vinegar, and the “apple water”* I had in the freezer. So multiplying the volume by about 3 times. I heated that lot slowly to melt and dissolve everything, brought to the boil for about 35min. Then bottled it. So now I have more volume and it’s still very spicy hot. This time the chilli solids have floated, despite resting the hot mix for five minutes before bottling. As I intend to eat this myself rather than giving as a pretty gift, that’s not a huge problem. The plain red syrup is still the business.

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*apple water= one granny smith apple roughly chopped and boiled in just enough water to cover. Strain and reserve the liquid (~200ml). I’d done this to add pectin to the strawberry jam I made recently. However, I was working with pears at the same time, and generated 3 pears worth of skin peelings and cores, which I boiled up similarly to add to the jam. I was pleased to find something to use up the apple water in and retrieve my freezer pot. The chilli sauce recipes I’ve seen that use a lower proportion of chilli to sugar/vinegar, also add cornflower, which I wasn’t keen to use, so I wondered if the apple water would substitute.

Sweet Chilli Sauce

This post is as much for my reference as anything. I have made this before but years ago and I can’t find any notes. So I’m starting again to find a preferred recipe. I used this recipe as a base, but of course without the garlic. If you don’t have a problem with garlic, you probably wouldn’t want to bother making this, unless perhaps you have a glut of home grown chillis? I love sweet chilli sauce but haven’t found a commercial brand without garlic, so I make my own.

I did 1/3 quantity because that matched the chillis I had. I took all the frozen red chilli I had in left in the freezer, they had been there a long time anyway. Plus I bought three of the milder long ones, two of which I froze overnight to make deseeding easier. Below is a pic of them all on an aluminium tray to defrost.

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150g red chilli (three large, rest bird’s eye)
1 cup vinegar (I used cider)1 cup white sugar.

(put gloves on) Deseed all but one large chilli. Don’t need to be too fussy because some seeds are expected anyway. Roughly chop them all and combine with about a quarter of the vinegar in a tall bamix jar. Blitz until chopped but not fully pureed.

Put this chilli mix into a small saucepan with the sugar and the rest of the vinegar. Heat slowly to dissolve the sugar, then (with the exhaust fan on high, really) bring to the boil, reduce to simmer for about 30min or until thickened. Bottle. I chose a tall narrow jar this time after spending too much time trying to scrape the very last bits out of the bottle of the previous batch.

I wonder how hot this is? It looks pretty strong. I reckon I could try it with a higher ratio of sauce to chilli next time, some of the other recipes use only a few chillis for the same sugar quantity.

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