Saturday, July 23, 2011

Supper club dates

Hello all - just to let you know that next two supper clubs are August 14th and September 11th.

20 for four courses including tasting glass of Cordiniu Cava.

Mail for more info...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jam, jam khazam

Yeah yeah I made them yesterday I've already started tucking into the one at the front. Whatevs.

Long live the pissing British summer. It may be raining every few moments, thus scuppering plans for long walks, barbecues, beach days and lots of general outdoor activities but it’s still pretty fun. On Sunday, we took a trip to the nearby Maynards Fruit Farm where we got thoroughly wet but it was worth it. Why? For the jam.

The fruit farm is a wonderful trip, for those of you in the area or even Londoners looking for something a bit different to do with a few hours. Hidden down a small lane in Ticehurst, the farm sprawls over acres and acres of land, belching out (at the moment) raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants, loganberries, blackcurrants and more. In less than an hour, Jon and I gathered an impressive amount of produce with one thing in mind – jam making day.

It’s been a while since Natalie and I have had one of our epic jam/chutney/pickle making days – so what better time to jump back on the wagon than in the middle of summer when the produce for experimentation is right at our fingertips?

Having tried my hand at the basics a few times now, I thought it was a good time to start making/ adapting recipes of my own... so the menu was spiced blackberry jam, blackberry and redcurrant jam, raspberry and gooseberry jam and redcurrant vodka jelly.

Redcurrant vodka jelly

I can’t even begin to say how much fun it was. Gossip and preserving go together like bees and honey... the one definitely runs smoother because of the other. Before we knew it, we were 30 jars down and sipping on the last of our daytime tipples. I think we’re finally at the stage where we may start selling some of the jams, pickles and other preserves that we make so if anyone has any advice or knows of any good farmers markets easily reachable/ in East Sussex I’d be delighted to hear from you.

Of course, one cannot have a jam making day without the odd bottle of wine or two consumed along the way. It was almost predictable that I was going to turn up for my first village WI meeting either in a mild state of inebriation or with the beginnings of a slight hangover. Having realised the error of my drinking ways, I stopped early enough to ensure that it was the latter. Still it was an interesting and enjoyable evening – the local ladies were lovely and many have been living in the village for over thirty years....vive le Rotherfield!

Raspberry and gooseberry jam
1.5kg raspberries
0.5 kg gooseberries
2kg preserving sugar
Juice of 4 lemons

Put the gooseberries into a preserving pan and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring to release their juices. Add the raspberries and cook for a further period until they are soft and quite mushy.

Add the lemon juice and sugar, stir on low heat until sugar has dissolved.

Bring to the boil and boil for 15 minutes or until setting point (105 degrees Celsius) is reached.

Skim any scum from the surface. Test for a set using a cold saucer from the fridge.

Put into sterilised jars, label.

Makes about 8 jars

Redcurrant vodka jelly

1800g redcurrants
600ml vodka
375 preserving sugar for every 500ml juice.

Put the redcurrants in a preserving pan with the vodka, bring to the boil, cover then continue to simmer for 25 minutes.

Put the redcurrant and vodka mash into a muslin sheet or a jelly bag and secure over a large bowl. Leave to drain for at least six hours.

Take the liquid from the bowl and measure. Measure the amount of sugar needed. Add the liquid and the sugar to the pan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil until setting point (around 105 degrees Celsius) is reached).

Jar up – making sure jars are sterilized first, cover and label.

Makes two large jars

Spiced blackberry jam
1 vanilla pod
1 stick cinnamon
3 cloves
1.8kg blackberries
1.8kg preserving sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the pan. Tie the spices and the remains of the pod into a small muslin bag. Place into the pan with the blackberries, water and lemon juice, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the sugar, stir on a low heat until dissolved. Bring to the boil on a high heat until setting point is reached. Test for a set using a cold saucer.

Remove from the heat. Ladle into sterilized jars, cover and label.

I’m not going to put in the recipe for the blackberry and redcurrant jam as it’s very similar to the one above. Omit the spices and replace half the blackberries with redcurrants for a tangy but delicious jam.