Category Archives: Preserves

Raspberry fridge jam

raspberry fridge jam

So after making courgette, lemon and raspberry cake, I still had lots of raspberries left over, and rather than add to my ever growing hoard of fruit in the freezer, I decided to make some fridge jam. The names comes from the fact that there is less sugar than usual in this (50% instead of 100%) which makes for a very tasty and fruity jam, but with less preservative it doesn’t keep so well, and therefore needs to be kept in the fridge and used up fairly quickly. So it’s one to make on a fairly small scale. I was actually hoping to only fill one jar, but ended up with a jar and a small dish worth as you can see in the picture.

The method couldn’t be easier. If you find it tricky getting normal jam to the right setting point, have a go with this one, because the setting point isn’t important. Mine made for a fairly loose jam, but once it’s been in the fridge for a while, the consistency is just right for spreading onto hot buttered toast.

If I don’t get through it quickly enough, some jam tarts might have to be made. Sigh!

Wash the raspberries briefly, removing any stalks, then measure their total weight. From this you can work out how much sugar you need (half the weight of the fruit). Put the raspberries into a pan and set over a low heat, stir and mash slightly as you stir until they break down a bit (5-10 mins). Add the sugar and keep stirring until it’s fully dissolved. Turn the heat up as high as you can and boil rapidly for 5 minutes, whilst stirring occasionally to stop any sticking.

That’s it – you’re done. Pour into a clean container and keep in the fridge. It should keep for about a week, but maybe longer.

raspberries

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Beetroot, red onion and cranberry relish

beet relish1

The beetroot has grown pretty well as usual this year. There isn’t a single crop that I grow without some sort of pest or disease to challenge it (or me) along the way, but some are definitely easier than others, needing little attention, and beetroot is one of those. It always germinates okay, grows whether it’s cold and damp or hot and dry, and apart from needing a little thinning in late spring/early summer, it looks after itself. Some grow big, some stay quite small, but that’s okay with me.

The leaves sometimes get a bit nibbled and then rusty towards the end of summer, and the bulbs also get eaten slightly, but whatever it is that attacks them only ever gets as far as a small hole in the side and then gives up. They don’t burrow all the way in and eat the entire build from the inside out like the eelworms in potatoes. So it’s quite easy to chop these holey sections off when trimming and peeling them. And less than perfect veg is always fine for chutney and relish making, nobody will ever know.

I came across a recipe in Alys Fowlers book Abundance (which I can highly recommend) for beetroot marmalade, and decided to adapt it ever so slightly to make this, which I’m controversially calling a relish. To be honest I don’t really get the difference between a pickle, chutney, relish or marmalade. The definition of marmalade seems to universally be a preserve made with the juice and peel of citrus fruit, so where does that leave caramelised onion marmalade? I think (personal opinion alert) it can be anything sweet made with slithers of fruit, veg or peel, suspended in a syrupy juice. Relish perhaps suggests something more savoury, whereas this is sweet, although you eat it with savoury dishes! Confused? Me too.

Anyway, call it what you like, it tastes lovely with a chunk of tangy cheese or cold meat. Anywhere you might use onion marmalade in fact, or cranberry relish, which lets face it, is really a jam! I’ll say no more.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg beetroot (trimmed and peeled)
  • 100ml balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt, to taste
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 large red onions, or a handful of smaller ones
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 400ml red wine vinegar
  • 100g dried cranberries, or feel free to use fresh.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºc. Cut the beetroot and the red onions into quarters and place in a roasting tin with a good dowsing of the balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle over some sea salt and the orange zest. Mix everything together and roast for 40 mins, or until you can pierce the beetroot with a knife. Set aside to cool – you can do this one evening and leave them overnight to make up the relish the next day.
  2. Grate the beetroot into a bowl, and set aside.
  3. Take out the onions and roughly chop them. Put them into a large pan with any balsamic juices from the pan, and the brown sugar and set over a low heat, stir until the sugar dissolves.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan (including the beetroot) and cook on a gentle simmer for 30 mins until the liquid has reduced by about two-thirds. It might take a bit longer. Stir from time to time to avoid anything sticking.
  5. You know when the relish is ready when you draw a spoon across the bottom of the pan and it stays clear for a few seconds before the syrupy juices fill back in. If there are no juices you may have overcooked it, in which case, add a little more vinegar and sugar and cook briefly.
  6. Spoon the relish into warm sterilised jars – I do this by washing the jars in hot water and then placing them into a cool oven to dry. Or you can just run them through a dishwasher.
  7. Place the lids on and store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.

beetroots beets and onions pre roast beet relish 2

Marrow and ginger jam

mg jam in jar

Okay, the signs are all there:

  1. I’ve started picking the autumn fruiting raspberries.
  2. The first sweetcorn has been harvested (recipes to come once I get bored of eating it straight off the cob – might take a while).
  3. I’ve started wearing cardigans again.
  4. I’ve made my first preserve of the year.

No, I’m not turning old before my time (that happened loooong ago), but the signs of autumn approaching are in the air. Autumn is definitely preserve making season, and for that alone, I love it!

marrows

So I harvested 5 marrows on Monday – I knew there were a couple lurking under the mangle of spiky stems, but when I finally got around to pulling them out I spotted another, and then another, and … ‘oh no, not another one!’ I’m not sure exactly when an oversized courgette becomes a marrow, but when they’re almost half a meter long, they have both feet firmly in the marrow camp.

Determined not to immediately resign them to the compost heap, I did a little web search and stumbled across a recipe for marrow and ginger jam. I’m sure I must have come across this before but dismissed it as it doesn’t sound that appetising, but the picture next to the recipe sold it to me. A golden sunshine coloured nectar in a jar that looks too good to be true.

It’s not. What I now realise is that the marrow breaks down completely on cooking and because it doesn’t have a strong favour itself, it becomes just a base (or a sponge if you like) for whatever flavours you throw in there, but I think the stronger the better. So in this recipe, the ginger and the lemon steal the show and it becomes like a ginger and lemon marmalade, but without the need for a sack of lemons and a lot of juicing.

The first recipe I found was from All recipes (links below) which is a very simple method but uses only the juice from 1 lemon. I decided straight away that a bit of lemon zest in there would be nice and make it more like a marmalade. Then I found this second recipe from BBC Good Food that uses the zest as well, but a much larger quantity of ingredients, with more lemon and ginger per marrow.

I happened to have 3 lemons in the bottom of my veg drawer that needed using, and a 20g piece of fresh ginger, plus a bit extra in the freezer. But, I only 1kg of jam sugar in the cupboard. In the end, I decided to keep the ratio of 1kg marrow to 1kg sugar, as it’s sort of the golden rule that works best for me in jam making, but I threw in all of my lemon and ginger stock, what the hell, I love lemon and ginger.

In terms of method, I ended up using the All recipes version, as it’s so much quicker and easier, but you will need a food processor or liquidiser for this.

Sources: Ginger marrow jam (allrecipes.co.uk) and Marrow & ginger jam (BBC Good Food)

Ingredients:

  • 1kg marrow (I started out with one weighing about 2kg, but by the time you’ve de-seeded and peeled it, it will be a lot less)
  • 1kg jam sugar (caster sugar will be fine if you use enough lemon)
  • 20g ginger (this was the weight once peeled)
  • 3 unwaxed lemons

Take your marrow and carefully slice it lengthways down the middle. Despite their size they are fairly easy to cut through. With a dessert spoon scoop out the seeds and woolly flesh down the middle. Take your time over this to ensure all of the seeds have been removed as you really don’t want these in your jam. Then flip the marrow halves over and peel their outsides. Chop into cubes and measure them out to around 1kg (a little under or over won’t hurt). Place into the largest pan you have and put to one side.

Peel the lemons and (if you want to) chop the peel down more finely depending on how you like it (thick cut/fine cut) then juice them. Put the lemon shells and any pips into a muslin bag if you have one (this isn’t crucial, skip it if you don’t). Peel and chop the ginger.

Add a couple of spoonfuls of lemon juice to the marrow and cook over a lowish heat until they begin to soften. Then tip them into a food processor or liquidiser (you might have to do this in batches) along with the rest of the lemon juice and ginger and blitz until smooth.

Then transfer back into the pan, add the zest and the sugar, stir, add the muslin bag, and heat gently until the sugar dissolves.

Meanwhile, wash and sterilise some jam jars (I filled 7 smallish ones, 4 or 5 regular sized would probably do). My normal method here is to wash them in hot soapy water, rinse, and then place them upright (along with the lids) into a baking tin, and place this into an oven preheated to 100ºc for 10 minutes. Also at this point, place a small plate into the freezer for the wrinkle test.

Once the sugar has dissolved in the mixture, bring the heat up as high as you can (be very careful here of molten liquid splattering out) and keep stirring it every so often. It can take up to 10 minutes at this stage, but I tend to use my senses rather than the clock. The mixture will start to thicken as you stir it, and the smell will become very ‘jam-like’, I know that sounds obvious, but the smell definitely changes from fruity to almost caramel like, which I guess is exactly what the sugar is doing.

When you think it’s getting close to done, take your plate from the freezer and put a small dollop of the jam on the plate. Give it a few seconds to cool, blow on it a bit (I do, but you probably don’t need to!) then push the glob with your finger. If it wrinkles up it’s ready. If it still resembles nothing but liquid put it back on the heat for a few more minutes and try again.

Once ready, take your jars from the oven (ensure they’re still hot) and fill them to around 10mm/half inch from the top. Screw the lids on tight and you’re done. Easy!

I’m now pondering whether a different flavour marrow jam could be possible. Marrow and chilli perhaps? Hmm, I am growing lots of those at home!

 

mg jam ingredients

marrow prep

marrow chopped
marrow blitzed
mg jam on knife

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