Justin’s parents’ neighbours have a few different fruit trees in their garden. In the past couple of years, we’ve had some of the harvest. Last year we made spiced apple chutney, the year before apple cheese. This year, we picked almost 5 kilos of plums – the sweetest, ripest plums we’d ever tasted!
We both ate half a dozen each in a couple of days but we would never be able to work our way through many before before they began to get over-ripe. I’d already made jars upon jars of fruit jam & jelly this year, so I turned half into spiced plum chutney and half into plum jam.
There were still LOADS of apples left over after making an apple & blackberry pie a few weeks ago. I hate wasting food so had to do something with them. “I’ll make apple chutney!”, I thought.
My Cordon Bleu Preserving book contains recipes for 4 different versions of apple chutney however it was the spiced one that took my fancy (for this read, “It was the one where I already had all the ingredients in the house.”) This recipe makes a humongous amount of chutney, but it’s easily adapted if you don’t have that much fruit to preserve. It’s a steeper, the flavours mellow if the chutney is left a week or so before consuming. So far, we’ve discovered that it makes a delicious accompaniment to a cheeseboard. It really suits a creamy brie and sharp cheddar – not so much blue cheese. I’m vegetarian, but I’ve had it on good advice that it’s also very good with pork pie (Justin) and sausage rolls (Duncan). What do you recommend?
Every year around this time we are given a bucketful of homegrown apples from the neighbour of Justin’s parents. Because they’re generally tiny and malformed I’ve usually turned them into apple cheese (no peeling, no coring).
There were about half a dozen biggish ones this year, so I combined them with some of the remaining bramble offerings that I had stored in the freezer and made an apple & blackberry pie. I may have confessed in some previous post that I’m not the greatest pastry maker – but I was going to give it another go!
Carefully add more water as needed, a little at a time, then finally bring the mixture together with your hands to form a smooth ball of dough that will leave the bowl clean (if there are any bits won't adhere to it, you need a spot more water)
Divide the ball of dough in half and make 2 smaller balls
Put the balls into a zip-lock bag or wrap in cling film or foil and put them in the fridge for half an hour while you prepare the filling
At this point, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas mark 6
Wash & drain the blackberries and peel & slice the apples into 1cm chunks. Mix them together and set aside until the pastry is ready to come out of the fridge
Lightly grease a pie/flan dish (I save my butter wrappers for just this job!)
Take one of the balls of pastry from the fridge and roll it out so that it's about 4cm/2 inches wider than the pie dish
Carefully lift the rolled out pastry onto the pie dish using your rolling pin. Press the pastry down gently into the pie and up the sides
Spoon the apples & blackberries onto the pastry and sprinkle the granulated sugar on top
Take out the other ball of pastry from the fridge and roll it out so that it is large enough to form a lid on the pie
Using a pastry brush, dampen the edge of the bottom pastry case with water
Fix the pastry lid into position pressing it very firmly all round
Trim the edges with a knife
You can use these trimmings to make shapes to decorate the top of the pie - just affix them with a little brushing of water
Brush the top of the pie with a little milk then sprinkle on a dusting of caster sugar which will give a crisp surface when the pie is baked
Make a small hole in the centre of the pie for steam to escape
Put the pie on to a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes
Allow to cool a little on a wire rack, slice and serve
Serve with a little cream, vanilla ice cream or just on its own - although I think it's gorgeous with a dollop of clotted cream!
There’s been a bumper crop of big, juicy wild blackberries this summer. We had a 2-hour long session of picking last Sunday and returned home with around 3 kilos of fruit – not counting the half kilo that Fudge picked & ate on the spot. We were sure he was going to make himself sick!
We planted a few fruit bushes in our garden this spring – one each of blackcurrant, redcurrant, whitecurrant and raspberry.
They looked like beautiful little jewels drooping from the branches.
Our garden hauls weren’t great, but we put everything in the freezer with the view to using them later in the year.
We added them to the wild berries gathered on our dog walks and ended up with an interesting mix of berries.
I’d already made some wild raspberry jelly last month which was absolutely delicious – especially spread between sponge cake layers. Justin requested a mixed berry jelly rather than jam – neither of us care to get seeds stuck in our teeth! We got 6 nice jars of jelly which is enough to last the winter. We’ll gift a couple of jars and still have plenty left for cake making, fruit sauces, toast etc…
…and probably our favourite way to eat it – a lazy weekend breakfast with newspapers, strong coffee and fresh croissants!