April 2016 saw the publication of Sow, Grow and Eat AKA the green book. This was a book that was actually quite quick on the heels of Plant Pot tales-the yellow book. As such, there was a similar format. The first third is about the allotment, the different lessons learned and a continuation of what was recorded in the yellow book. The rest of the book concentrated on recipes and what could be done with allotment produce.
The green book was borne out of my experimentation with a preserving pan. I had made jams, jellies, chutneys and pickles. These were shared with friends, family as well as colleagues. It was interesting to think about what could go into a preserve to make extra-ordinary, to make something that stood out from what you find in a supermarket.
There are a few recipes that are actually dedicated, are in honour of colleagues and friends. A couple, come from the physics department and an attempt to be as creative as possible.
As with the yellow book, I tried to make the recipes as simple as I could. I don’t believe in making things complicated, preventing people from accessing and then not enjoying anything. The recipes are all experiments though; all of them are open to interpretation, improvement and extension. From time to time, I do look through the book and remind myself of the different things that I have made. It does rather encourage me to try and extend the variety, to do more experiments once I have the plot up and running again.
I do believe that I will write another cook-book type of book. It is sat on my desk, waiting for me to flesh it out.
Well, yesterday, with good intentions, we extracted the juice from the rhubarb. It was left in the jelly bag over night, and we ended up with a fair bit of liquid. I awoke this morning, earlier that I would on a normal Sunday, to finish the job.
And tried to finish the job. Using sugar, weighed in relation to the liquid, and adding pectin powder, Ma and I set the pan boiling. We got it to 104 degrees C. We both watched the pan boil and the sugar thermometer hit the temperature.
That was boil one. We left it, hoping that it would set.
And we waited. We hoped.
Cue reboil two.
We thought about the pectin, perhaps we should add some more. The liquid-which tastes quite nice actually, was boiled once more. It even had the skin-like miniscus setting across the top.
But it’s gloopy. Syrupy pudding or porridge topper. A bit disappointed, but it’s still edible!
At Christmas, Santa Claus delivered me a jelly bag and stand. Til now, I have not had any clear idea as what to do with it, or any fruit for that matter. However, rhubarb has started making an appearance on the plot. Whilst mine is still small and in it’s infancy, a plot neighbour has loads that he is more than happy to share.
So I asked if I could possibly scrump some for an experiment. “Oh, sure she can take some, she came and asked like a lady,” he told my mum, who had already told me off anyway.
Harvested just over three pounds, I needed that much anyway as I also had some plums to add. All in all, I have used four pounds of fruit today.
The recipe was simple, provided to me by the lovely Preesall Preserves. Stew the rhubarb, water and ginger until the fruit was soft. Put all into a jelly bag, Then do the boil and setting point thing later with the sugar being measured in relation ot the liquid volume. I haven’t got that far yet. I am leaving this over night, and will attempt to boil and set tomorrow. I am using normal sugar, and for the first time ever, using powdered pectin. The fruits were stewed with a lemon, just to see if there was any pectin in the plums.
Hopefully, tomorrow, we might have a jelly. Or to give it it’s proper name, ‘Watson’s right hook’ zingy rhubarb and Plum jelly. Cross your fingers!
When you too many courgettes, and you don’t want to so much as curry one. You have to think of alternatives. Last year was the first time that I made a foray into jams and chutneys. I had wibbly ones, spicy ones, one that set like Concrete. There was a lot of experiments. Especially when I had tomatoes by the tonne.
I soon realised that if I had a proper pan-nothing wrong with mum’s big Dahl pot, except When you might burn it and have to scrub it-the whole process might be easier. I found the maslin jam pan, funnel and spoon as a bargain special buy. It’s a big pan, and at times I do struggle with getting a “rollicking boil’. I also has a jam thermometer as I can never get the cold plate Wrinkle test right. I tend to panic when I don’t get the setting point of 104 degrees c. That is a deliberate figure, the setting point of jam.
Santa Claus did also deliver me jelly straining kit. Have yet to use it,
So no photo yet. You could always use suspended clean. Sterilised muslin. The same as the one I use for home brew.
I am far from being an expert preserver. I nearly cried when I burned the bottom of the pan with blackberry jam. Thought the pan was a goner.