Tag Archives: preserving

Chutney: Petal, the preserving pan and me #gdnblogger

Okay, the preserving pan has been sat idle for a while; the last batch of preserve was made in August. This close to Christmas, I might have made a few more bits and pieces. Alas, the mojo has been a bit adrift.

Until today.

The last batch that we made was ‘Oberon’s relish’ which involve apples, mint and green tomato. This has all now gone to loving homes, so  I thought about doing some experimenting. There were some plot grown scotch bonnets that need to be used, and I also harvested a fair bit of mint from the allotment. Home grown garlic was also used to form the base of the chutney.

 

You can see the youtube video here.

It does take time to prepare all of the ingredients; lots was chopped up before it could all get combined. Patience is required when cooking, to ensure that all of the flavours infuse and nothing burns. You really don’t want to be scrubbing the bottom of the preserving pan when burned stuff has welded itself there.

At the moment, the chutney is going to be very intense and quite fiery. Hopefully, it will mellow for a while before it can be tasted.

Plot produce ideas from Petal #gdnbloggers

Sometimes, typing up things only gets you so far! Thought I might try and make some videos of plot produce and provide a different dimension. You’ll have to forgive the rambling and wobbly camera work.

Squashes and beans can be really very prolific on the plot, and you soon run out of ideas as to what you can do with them. You could stuff the marrows and patty pans, or cook them them as a curry. Yep, sauteed with some onions, garlic and ginger, you can make a really simple Indian inspired dish. It is up to you how spicy you make it-and if you have some home grown chillies, you can add these!-maybe even add some home grown potatoes.

Squash and beans you tube link.

We had a spot of drama with the tomatoes this year. From not thinking that they would be productive, to quite a few green tomatoes. These were all removed from the vines as dreaded blight appeared and left to ripen. There was soup made at one point, in efforts to use them all up. Tomatoes can be use as the basis of many Indian dishes. Once you have made a tarka base, you can add fresh tomatoes to form a gravy base that gives the dish body and helps to infuse the flavours that you are cooking with.

Tomatoes and squashes you tube link.

Compared to previous years, the plot has produced quite a few chillies and across different varieties. Some have been quite mild and used in Mama F’s, others are bit a more potent. These more potent varieties make really nice chilli jam! Unlike traditional jam, this type doesn’t have to set or wobble; it only has to gloop. This is really simple to make and depending on how hot or sweet you want it, you can moderate this by using different chillies.

Chilli Jam you tube link

Petal, Punam and a preserving pan! #Gdnbloggers

nbtalk

Do I look nervous? I was trying not to pull faces.

I was kindly invited by the Nuneaton Federation of Allotment Associations to their meeting and to talk briefly about preserving. This was my first proper public engagement (beyond the blog) and it was rather exciting to be asked along and share my learning experiences.

What you see above is the photographic evidence of myself, Petal-she is there!-and my preserving pan. There are also yellow tomatoes there, I had also taken along some courgettes, Petal’s Potted Preserves and a couple of books too. I think this helped, especially as I waved around scotch bonnet, declared it was lethal, yet had pots of scotch bonnet chilli jam for sampling. It was really refreshing actually, to see people sampling and enjoying the preserves that are documented in the books.

It was really good fun to meet the allotment holders; there were a number of different allotment committees present from across the Nuneaton and Bedworth area. I spoke about how preserving was a creative way to use your produce when you can’t give away your courgette glut for love nor money. Plus, the only limits to what you can jam, jelly or chutney were your imagination and what you grew. This was a really good experience! I really did enjoy talking about Petal’s preserves. (Petal is the avatar,remember?) It reminded me of how the allotment community is very good at sharing, at learning from one another and helps both people and produce to grow. I certainly would not have got as far I have today without the help and guidance of other plot holders.

Petal-and me-have had our first experience of doing a talk; who knows, there might be more!

(if you want to be part of that journey, hit the contact page, and get it in touch!)

 

 

 

Kindle Promotion: One day left!!!

There is only one day left to get e-versions of both books at 99 pence!

Just think of all the courgettes and things that are now in full scale glut.

Both books contains recipes and ideas that might prevent you from going slightly too doolally and lobbing courgettes and beans as far as you can. If you ever wanted to make your own jams, jellies, pickles and preserves you can find some potentially useful nugges that I have learned from experiments.

You can find links on the blog: right hand side, or you can go click on the page that says books above.

Once the countdown deal is over, both books will revert to their pre-promotion prices. So go have a butchers and share far and wide.

Petal’s Preserve goes a bit…boozy #gdnbloggers

There have been a lot preserves made, in terms of jams, jellies and chutneys. I have also had a go at steeping fruit in alcohol to make liqueurs of a kind. This year, I have used fruit from the plot to test out my home brewing kit that was sat unloved for the best part of twelve months. Plus, we have a lot of courgettes, squashes and spinach flying around and this seemed a way of avoiding the gluts.

The recipe that I have used is simple enough-the Sister Sparrow fruit wine recipe-with fruit being placed into a fermenting bucket. Boiled sugar syrup is poured over the top, with yeast, nutrient and enzyme being added when the must is cool. This is left to ferment, before transferring and racking into an air-locked demi-john. Once clarified, the liquid can be re-racked. (This involves transferring from one vessel to another using a siphon and the best quality gravity that you can obtain. It is a two person job, and I tend to borrow a willing parent.) This involves drawing off the  liquid and avoiding the sediment of yeast et cetra at the bottom.

It all started with strawberries, there were quite a lot of them. This first batch was something of a learning experience, having not had a big enough bucket. I may have got a little enthusiastic with this one, and rushed the process. The wine is now bottled-prematurely,  I think-could have done with sitting for a bit and being racked again. It is however, a rather pretty pink, and tastes okay! I’ve wrapped it in brown paper, so that it doesn’t lose the pink colour.

So that was the starting point, and I have to say I was bit enthused as to what I might do next.

Today, I have some time working with two would be wines. The first, was summer wine. The second was apple wine. The summer wine involved rhubarb, left over strawberries as well a hotch pot of red, black and white currants. This was transferred into a demi-john, and will be left to clarify. This is the second rhubarb wine; a previous version involves the combination of Rhubarb and redcurrant, minus the strawberries. I have to admit, that when it is was in the Demi-John, it looked a lot like I had blitzed a plastic ‘My Little Pony’. (Please don’t do this, you do not wish to be in trouble; that is a figurative statement). That is two. Three, three involves blackberries. As a teenager, I read ‘Blackberry wine’ by Joanne Harris, so this was actually the thought in my head. If wine could talk! The batch made actually involves more than blackberries, there are plums and even more currants in there. The currants were rather rocking it this year! At some point, I will try and make some pure blackberry wine, rather than have additional ingredients.

Apple wine is a little different compared to my previous home brew experiments. I had quite a bit of apples stashed in the freezer as well as some freshly harvested ones. These were cored, peeled and sliced, combined and stewed down to a puree of a sort. Once this has cooled, the magic ingredients will  be added so that it can all ferment for a bit.

Think that actually brings the tally up to five different batches. With blackberry wine being considered, the aim of these is to practice. On the plot, there are three grapevines. These are boskoop glory and Madeline Sylvaner. Whilst these are dessert varieties, I believe these can be used to make home made wine. This is basically why I have grape vines!  Many of the experiments need to stay stashed for a while, they will need to mature and build their flavour. As nice as the strawberry wine was to sample, it will be cloistered away for a while.

Preserving and progress

Rain has stopped play today, it’s grey and grim outside. The perfect opportunity to take stock of what is happening on the plot. Means I can update you on the blog, also work on another creative project. A project that builds on the blog actually, none too dissimilar and to be made public later on this year. Let’s just that whilst the blog is updated as and when I have something to share; the creative project is something of a summative assessment of all plot based learning experiences. That is a story for another day though.

So what has been happening this week?

The chillies are cropping weekly, and with the hungarian hot wax chillies loitering on the window sill I wanted to use the constructively. Mum’s been using them in her kitchen as per usual. They’ve gone into assorted Indian dishes, and even the odd fenugreek stuffed chappati. That is after all what they were grown for. The same goes for the harvested garlic crop.

The plums in the pan aren’t mine, not sure where they are from. I fancied making a jelly, and this is somewhat popular amongst friends and colleagues. I was rather traumatised emptying the jelly bag of the purple pulp; it didn’t look particularly nice. It looked as though it belonged on a medical ward. The juice for the jelly was a wonderful claret colour, and that meant wiping down all the surfaces onto which it dripped.

Chillies and garlic also went into a chutney, and I even did an experiment. I found a recipe for piccalilli and have tried this for the first time. I think its a bit mellow and probably needs more a kick; however it awaits taste testers.

Courgettes have started to crop; no thanks to the confused weather. There are other squashes and crops starting to come through too.

The ghost rider pumpkin is starting to sprawl out with its dinner plate sized leaves. Spotted a few babies, that may or may not have been pollinated. With the scarlet emperor beans in full flower, the climbing french beans have started to form gangly pods.

Hey pesto: An experiment

The basil on the plot has been used a little bit; but could be used a little more. Whilst the pot is small, and needs to grow-I only bought it recently from urban herbs-there are a small amount of leaves that could be used to make an experimental amount of pesto.

I have never done this before.

The recipe that I have followed is from Jamie Oliver’s Pesto. Rather than use mum’s blender, I opted to use a pestle and mortar. Mainly as it wouldn’t involve too much washing up. However, this way felt a bit more traditional. The garlic and basil are from the plot, the rest of the ingredients are from shop. I have yet to grow a tree for pine nuts.

There was bit of huffing and puffing, in thinking that this might be a bit difficult. That the basil and garlic would need a bit of bashing; or pounding as the recipe directs. I wouldn’t call it pounding, and it wasn’t that hard. The garlic mashed up quite easily, I think the freshness contributed to that. As well as the freshness of the basil as well, it had been washed before hand. The pine nuts were toasted on mum’s tava-this implement is normally used to make her chappatis-and the pine nuts were dry toasted. I may have over toasted a few of them, but that actually added to the flavour.

I deliberately made a small amount; enough for a piece toast, I found.

The taste test?

Lovely. Perhaps less garlic, the recipe does actually stipulate less than I used. I was feeling enthusiastic. And more cheese. Will definitely try this again.

Preserving pan playing

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Over the weekend mum and I have been playing with the jam pan. Hoping to get over the runny jellies from before, we used this opportunity to get things right. Plus with all the soft fruit on the plot; this was something of a dress rehearsal for when do have excess crops that we don’t know what to do with. There was a fair bit of rhubharb on the plots so this has been used for two preserves.

We have also learned how to use powdered pectin properly. Rhubarb, raspberries and strawberries aren’t full of pectin. So it was somewhat necessary for set preserves. There were two jellies made as well as two jams. Chutneys and chilli jams are on the schedule in the coming weeks.

#NABLOMPOMO: Preserving pan playing

I learned some valuable preserving lessons today.

And by the way, there wasn’t anything in the goodies that I had actually sown and grown. Just putting that out there.

We’ve had the jelly disaster, of a sort, before. With that rhubarb jelly that didn’t set. Well, I was adamant that I would learn to set it. Rhubarb, I learn, has little pectin. Explains why it didn’t set, plus I probably didn’t boil it long enough.

So we set ourself another challenge. How about yellow plum jelly, as we try to get the jelly to set.

Plums contain pectin, I wanted to make sure that this was the truth. As variable as they are, I want this jelly to well…gel.

We would follow the same process. Boil up the fruit, with a lemon, in water. Till it went squishy, and then we dripped it over the night time. That was okay, I did that. This morning, we boiled up the solution. It had a kick, i had thrown in a scotch bonnet.

Boiling up, there was the jam thermometer positioned on the edge. Ma and I were watching it get to setting temp, 104. We kept it there, and made sure it was at a rolling boil. A rolling boil, for a while, til the solution had reduced, and was harder to stir, and the liquid was gloopy and on the turn as it were.

I learned that this was important, the rolling boil, the turning to gloop. I had clearly missed a trick. This is to be retained for later.

There was lot preserving today, I was in the mood for experimentation and getting things right. I just need to work out how to stop sugar crystals forming.

#NABLOPOMO: That Rhubarb jelly

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!