I got a lot of cherries from the co-op, and bottled them in syrup and Kirsch. I was a bit nervous about this, but they turned out very well. Next time, I might try with another spirit, to add a different twist, for example, absinthe or brandy.
250ml spirit, such as Kirsch
1 star anise or a good pinch of aniseed
1 stick of cinnamon
2 tbsp lemon juice
Stone the cherries. I pushed the stones out with a long metal straw. It took a while, and is not 100% necessary. You can also buy a cherry stoner from Lakeland or other online shops, they are quite inexpensive, and can be used to stone olives as well.
Put the cherries, sugar and spice in a pan, and heat slowly. Stir to dissolve the sugar, and then simmer for around five minutes, and then leave to stand for a further five minutes.
Add the lemon juice and Kirsch, pour into sterilised jars, and seal.
A recipe worth experimenting with to switch the flavours round. The lemon juice is very important though. The cherries are delicious served with ice-cream and pancakes.
I mentioned the large quantities of jam in our house to Spaid, and he started reminiscing about rhubarb jam, the best jam in the world if you come from the Hebrides. I made some, adds good vibes to work.
1 kg summer rhubarb, chopped into very small segments
25 g crystalised ginger
Juice of 1 lemon
1 kg jam sugar
Chop the rhubarb and put it in the jam pan, with the finely chopped crystalised ginger, and the lemon juice. Pour the sugar over the top. Leave the mixture overnight.
The next day, heat the rhubarb and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved, and then quickly bring to a fast boil, and boil until setting point is reached.
Malcolm managed to buy some extremely cheap raspberries the other day. I came home from work and there were mad amounts of fruit in the kitchen. He had also bought some strawberries, and he made some industrial quantities of strawberry jam. I made raspberry jam and it is as red as rubies, and speckled with pips, absolutely glorious on scones.
1 kg raspberries
1 kg sugar
Juice of 1 orange (optional)
Warm the sugar in the oven
Meanwhile, put the raspberries in a large jam pan with the orange juice, and bring to a simmer
Add the sugar, and bring to a hot boil, and keep boiling until you reach setting point. I use the thermometer as a general guide, and the flake test to be sure. Don’t be afraid, a fast boil on full heat works best.
Pour into clean warmed jars and seal.
The flake test: Dip a clean wooden spoon into the jam. Hold the spoon over the pan and twist it to cool the jam, then allow the cooling jam to drip from the edge of the spoon. If the drips run together and start to set, forming wide-based ‘flakes’, then the jam is at setting point.
There are many ways to make marmalade, and lots of advice about the perfect version. This is ‘method 1’ in Bulletin 21 from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, printed in 1971. I got the book at a jumble sale in 1981.
I published this tonight, as I promised the recipe to someone who’d tried the marmalade. I can’t remember if she had the Aperol batch though.
1.5 kg seville oranges
2.25 litres of water
3 kg sugar
Optional extra – 200ml of Aperol – reduce water to 2 litres
With a potato peeler, shave strips of peel from the oranges and lemons. Cut the peel very finely, into strips about 1cm long and the thickness of a penny. You don’t need to do all the peel, it depends on how much you really like it.
Put the peel in a pan with some of the water, and simmer for around 2 hours, until the peel is tender.
Cut up the rest of the fruit coarsely and simmer with the remaining water in a closed pan for around 1 1/2 hours. When cooked, strain through a colander to remove the pips.
Add the strained juice (and optional aperol) to the peel, bring to the boil and then add the sugar, stirring until it is dissolved.
Bring the marmalade to a fast boil, until setting point is reached. When you have decided the marmalade is ready, turn off the heat, and skim off any foamy scum.
Let the marmalade cool quite a bit in the pan: this means that the peel distributes evenly in the jar.
I was looking through my old recipe book, which I have had since around 1990, for keeping notes. This is my recipe for lemon curd. It is a very basic recipe. You can add the juice of other citrous fruit but actually, lemon is still the best.
Juice of 2 lemons
250g caster sugar
Beat the eggs
Put all the ingredients in a double pan (one pan sits on top of the other, boiling water in the bottom pan)
Heat very gently, stirring all the time, until the mixture is fully blended and becoming thick.
I have several recipe books devoted to preserving, jams and other such domestic creativity. This particular recipe for marmalade works well for me and for Mr B, who has very particular standards.
The marmalade should set well, be a pleasing colour, with good distribution of peel. The shreds of peel should be fine and short, about the thickness of a penny and maximum one centimetre long.
1 kg seville/marmalade oranges
2 kg jam sugar
2.5 litres of water
Wash the oranges, and put them in a large covered pan and simmer for around an hour and a half.
Remove the oranges from the liquid, and allow to cool.
Put around 8 clean jam-jars on a sheet in the oven at around 90C to warm and sterilise.
The messy bit; cut the oranges in half, and remove the pips. Scoop out the pulp and add to the pan.
To get a good set, put the pips in a small pan with some of the liquor and bring to the boil, and then strain this back into the big pan.
Next, cut the rind of three or four of the oranges into fine shreds. I do this by cutting the rind into 1cm wide strips, and then running a table knife along the inside of the peel to remove as much of the pith as possible. Then I chop into fine shreds, only adding the best ones to the pan. How much you add is a personal choice.
Start to bring the mixture to the boil, and add the sugar, stirring all the while.
Keep boiling until setting point is reached – around 222 (jam) on the thermometer. Use the wrinkle test and the flake test as well. Pour the marmalade into the warm jars, and leave to set.
A word about the flake test – this is my favourite method of checking that the jam or marmalade will set. I dip a spoon into the boiling jam and hold it horizontally. As the jam drips off the edge of the spoon, it will start to set, and the drips will start to join together, to form gelatinous webs.
I bought a mixed pack of grapes, and ended up with about half a pound of black grapes with a strange texture. Instead of ignoring them until we could throw them away, I made jam. I made it this way
200g black grapes
200g jam sugar
Put the grapes in a saucepan with half the lemon juice and put onto a low heat, and simmer until the grapes are soft
Put the fruit through a sieve to remove the skins and pips
Return the fruit to the pan with the rest of the lemon juice and the sugar.
Bring to a simmer until setting point is reached. I use a combination of a jam thermometer and the flake test to check for the setting point. For the flake test, I lift the stirring spoon out of the jam and see if the drips run together and partially set along the edge of the spoon.
Pour into a warm clean jar (this made only 1 jar of jam)
After Christmas, I have been taking stock of all our left-overs. We must have been expecting a frenzy of people wanting tangerines, gin & tonic, and fresh ginger.
I made this mixed fruit marmalade with all the citrus fruit. Still to work out what to do with a huge bag of fresh ginger.
Tangerines, Limes, Lemons, Oranges, Grapefruit, combined = 1.4 kg
1.4 kg jam sugar
2.8 litres of water
Peel the tangerines, and slice the peel into thin shreds. Put this in a wee muslin bag
Chop all the fruit up coarsely, with the peel on – slicing it works well.
Put the wee bag of peel and the fruit into a large pan with the water, and bring to the simmer, cook for 2 hours. Remove the wee muslin bag about half way through.
Strain the mixture through a jelly bag, and measure the juice – if it is more than 1.4 litres, put it into the jam pan and bring to the boil and reduce.
Add the sugar, dissolve it, and bring to the boil. I use a thermometer to get to jam temperature, then I hold the stirring spoon horizontally to see if the drips start to set and combine together (flake test)
Skim off any foam, add the shredded peel, and let the mixture start to cool. Pour into clean warmed jars. (I warm the clean jars in the oven).