Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Preserving plums

I've felt a bit 'bleurgh' this weekend so chose to take things gently. This conveniently tied in with getting on with making more preserves, not particularly hard work but I don't like to leave food alone whilst it's bubbling away.

 J and S were in the plum tree collecting a few more baskets of fruit. S was very useful as he was able to clamber on to the thinner limbs. I did my best not to look!

I made a few more jars of bottled plums... and decided that last weeks method of partially cooking them in the syrup was superior after all. By not cooking them they shrank whilst in the water bath and I now have 7 bottles that are only 3/4 full. I'll have to remember this for next year as I think that this is enough bottled plums for us for now!

'Home Made' Maslin Pan
 Needing to get some new seals for my clip top jars (two of which I promptly managed to crack when I got home, I am not going to buy these again) I was seduced into purchasing a maslin pan (what can I say other than my birthday is coming up!). Not essential for making preserves but I already love it. Having the right tools can make a big difference to getting the job done. Talking of the right tools, another that I feel is essential is a jar lifter (can be seen here), this has saved me so much hassle and is well worth it's over inflated price.

For the first time ever I seem to be doing well with tomatoes. Due to previous problems I chose to only grow a cherry variety which means that whilst I have quite a few the overall volume is small. My mum stepped in and gave (which translates to forced me to take!) a bowl of her large, though still green, tomatoes. Whilst some of them have ripened in the bowl I wanted to get rid of them as I need the counter space. So out came Jamie Oliver's 'Jamie at Home' that contains a recipe for green or red tomato ketchup. The result was a bit vinegary but give it a month or two and I think that it should taste good.

Plum jam, green tomato ketchup and plum ketchup
Having made one lot of ketchup I was feeling inspired and googled 'Plum ketchup'. Lots of very similar recipes online, I ended up following the Delia Smith one and just skipped the flavourings I didn't have. This too is promising and I'm looking forward to the vinegar aroma wearing off. I suspect that this might make an excellent sauce for use in stir fry's.

My final creation was a bottle and a half of apple and plum cordial. So simple to make, just takes time but can be left alone for most of it. I boiled up a load of plums and rough chopped apples, stones, pips and all. This was left straining through a tea towel in a colander balanced on the top of my tallest pan overnight (as if making a jelly). I boiled off some of the water (I had added too much initially) and added a guesstimate of sugar. The resulting mix was poured into sterilised bottles. I don't think that my boys are going to take to this but I do enjoy having my own home made cordials as I hate buying squash - artificial sweeteners have crept into all but the most expensive brands.

I'm doing well on the preserving front so far. I also made a load of plum jam this weekend, my pans were constantly in use and my large 5kg pack of sugar is nearly gone, must purchase more for the wine making! I don't have many preserves left to do now other than lots of apple sauce and some damson and apple jam - these still need to ripen. I may try a damson ketchup too but I'm running low on jars. It is lovely to have a shelf full of preserves but creating food that we will actually use is the most important criteria.

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