July sees the start of our food harvesting and preserving season. Last week we made a delicious elderflower ice cream with our home-made elderflower cordial.
This week, we’ve made some redcurrant jelly using a recipe from Cordon Bleu Preserving.
We inherited half a dozen or so redcurrant bushes when we took on our allotment last year. On our last trip down there this week, the bushes were heaving with little red jewels.
It took the pair of us about two hours to pick about half of them. When we got home, we gave them a rinse – they barely filled our small colander!
Despite this, we kept back a couple of cupfuls (to go into a pie) before making rest into jelly… it actually made 8 jars.
We know that redcurrant jelly is usually matched with lamb or game and a dollop or two can go into a gravy for extra flavour. We’ll have to look for some other good flavour matches…any ideas?
Without fail, Justin & I start each day with a mug of coffee and a banana each. We both always have to save the final bite for Fudge. He sits there staring and salivating until it’s offered to him.
Bananas are his favourite food… after pork pie… and sausage… and chicken… OK, bananas are his favourite fruit!
They’re probably our favourite fruit too – I love them sliced with peanut butter in a sandwich. We’ve shared quite a few banana-based recipes on here as well. We’re officially bananas for bananas!
Curated by H is for Home
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.
I used recipes from the good old Cordon Bleu Preserving recipe book for both.
The job of stoning was a monotonous, boring job but the resulting preserves were well worth the toil!
When the chutney was cooking the house was filled with the most delicious smell – I wish I could bottle that alone!
Here’s the spiced plum chutney recipe:
1tbs ground ginger
1tbs ground allspice
2tbs ground mustard seeds
2tbs dried chilli flakes
425ml/¾pt white malt or white wine vinegar
450g/1lb soft brown sugar
- Wash & stone the plums and put them in a pan with the ginger, allspice, mustard seeds and chilli flakes
- Tie the cloves in a muslin bag and add to the pan
- Add the salt and 300ml/½pt of the vinegar
- Simmer gently until the plums are soft (about 3 hours)
- Put the sugar into a large measuring jug/basin with the remaining vinegar and leave to dissolve. Add to the plums when cooked
- Bring to the boil and allow to boil gently until thick (about another 2 hours)
- Pour into warm, sterilised jars and screw down immediately
- Leave for 4-5 weeks before using
And here’s the jam recipe…
3kg/6½lb granulated or preserving sugar
- Wash the plums, cut them in half and remove the stones
- Tie half the stones in muslin
- Place the fruit in a preserving pan with the water and cook gently until tender
- Add the sugar and heat gently until dissolved
- Add the bag of stones
- Boil rapidly for about 25 minutes or until the jam sets when tested
- Remove the bag of stones and pour the jam into warm, dry sterilised jars. Cover and tie down
It’s a deliciously sweet accompaniment to morning croissants.
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?
- 36 large apples - peeled, cored & sliced
- 1½lbs/680g sultanas
- 3lbs/1.4kg demerara sugar
- 4oz/115g mustard seeds
- 2 fresh chillies, sliced into rings
- 2 rounded tsps ground turmeric
- 2oz/60g ground ginger
- 1½lbs/680g onions, halved & thinly sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed with salt
- 2pts/1L vinegar (I used distilled white vinegar, but you can used ordinary malt vinegar)
- Put all the ingredients into a large pan (a jam pan is ideal) and simmer for 1½-2 hours until very soft and pulpy
- Turn into sterilised jars and cover
A few tips for making successful chutneys, relishes & ketchups:
-1- Once opened a jar must be refrigerated and consumed within a week.
-2- Don't allow the vinegar to come into contact with with metal whilst in store.
-3- When preserving with vinegar, don't use copper or brass preserving pans. Use aluminium or stainless steel and only use enamelled iron pans if there are no chips to the enamel.
-4- It's important to cook chutneys and sauces thoroughly otherwise they will not keep.
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!
Cakes & Bakes: Apple & blackberry pie
- For the pastry
- 350g/12oz plain flour
- 80g/3oz butter or margarine, cubed
- pinch of salt
- 4-5tbs cold water
- For the filling
- 450g/1lb apples (about 4 medium-sized apples)
- 225g/½lb blackberries
- 100g/3½oz granulated sugar
- For the glaze
- 3tbs milk
- 25g/1oz caster sugar
- Start by making the pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, holding the sieve up as high as possible to give the flour an airing
- Add the cubed butter/margarine to the flour
- Using your fingertips, lightly & gently rub the pieces of fat into the flour, lifting your hands up high as you do this (again, to incorporate as much air as you can) and being as quick as possible
- When the mixture looks uniformly crumbly, start to sprinkle roughly 4 tablespoons of cold water all over
- Use a pastry blender or round-bladed knife to start the mixing
- 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!