What a week! Here we are again with heavy snow and I think we are all tired of it now - some Spring would be nice. Those poor lambs being born into this and all the little birds busy making their nests and pairing off are now shivering in the gloom again.
We've still managed to make progress though - The Old Smithy now boasts a small dishwasher so those of you who have been on courses will know how relieved I am that the pressure is off getting all of the mugs washed before the next round of tea! Many thanks to Trev and Rob for installing. A fresh coat of paint is now called for in the kitchen and then we will be all ready for the tasks ahead.
I've made Piccalilli - see above - and lots of wholegrain mustard, apricot jam ( frozen fruit ) and marmalade.
Really exciting news - my mobile recipe site is now published m.rosiemakesjam.com - it has lots of recipes - of course - and a lot of photographs although I still have some to do. The most exciting thing is though that you can search for a recipe by ingredient, by season, by month, and even by lifestyle. So, if you want recipes for preserves to make for say, barbeques, you can use that as your search. Also, if you have more ingredients than the recipe states, say 5kgs of plums instead of 3 you can scale the whole recipe up, see what other ingredients you may need and shop for them before you go home! More recipes will be added as I find time to do this and I hope it will be a really useful tool for preservers on the move. Optimised for phones or tablets and you can also use it on your laptops or computers of course - let me know what you think.
I have been asked to speak at the WiRE National Conference so look forward to seeing some of you there. I am also going to Jamie Oliver's The Big Feastival in August - tickets for the event have just gone on sale and will disappear quickly so get on and buy them if you intend going. I will be making jam all weekend so come round and have a chat or ask me a difficult question in front of the audience!
I also filmed a DVD on Thursday which was a lot more difficult than I was expecting - we did get through it - eventually - and I will be able to tell you more about that soon. Some of you know that I can talk for Britain but I just wasn't on form yesterday and unable to string two sentences together! Hard to believe, I know.
Many of you will have seen the controversy in the press about Michelle McKenna wanting to get the legal definition for the sugar content in jam reduced from 60% to 50% to accommodate her apple based product. The Guild of Jam and Preserve Makers are working on a response with our patron, Pam Corbin and will be contacting DEFRA as soon as the consultation period on this is opened. In the meantime, a lot of you have been contacting me saying that you agree with the proposal because you add 50% sugar when making jam artisanally and 60% is too high. Please remember that the sugar content from the fruit is also included in this 60% and below 60% the jam will be difficult to set and will not keep without refrigeration - so be careful which proposal you support if you wish to maintain the traditional methods! You can make your opinion known on the website of The Guild of Jam and Preserve Makers and this will help to form the submission to DEFRA.
Finally, I found a bargain in my local supermarket - mangoes on a 2 for 1 offer. So, I snapped some up and made some Mango Chutney today - which is really easy and very delicious. You'll never buy it again if you make this - and its a great thing to make at this time of year when there is not much else around. The recipe I use is shown below for a Sweet Mango Chutney, but you can always add some sliced red chilli about 5 minutes before the end of cooking time if you prefer it hotter.
SWEET MANGO CHUTNEY
1.8kgs/4lbs mangoes, de-stoned, peeled and cubed 2 peeled and chopped onions
450g/1lb cooking apples, peeled and chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed
600ml/1 pint malt vinegar 4 teaspoons ground ginger
400g/14oz demerara sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Makes about 10-11 190ml/7oz jars
Wash the jars and put into a low oven to dry.
Sprinkle the prepared mango with the salt and leave to one side while you prepare the apples and onions
Put vinegar and sugar into a pan and heat gently, stirring, to dissolve the sugar
Add the mangoes, apple, onion, garlic and ginger and slowly bring to the boil
Simmer gently for about 1 hour until thick
Pot into warm, sterilised jars and seal immediately
Delicious with curry, of course, and in sandwiches with cheese or cold meats
Enough galivanting around the countryside winning awards - back to work now. I have a lot of stock to get made, my new labels to re-brand the products as 'Rosie Makes' - I don't know about you but labeling takes up more time than anything else. It all looks really smart though - good old Trev, coming up with another great design. I've been making more marmalade - chunky and fine shred, plus experimenting with a Seville Orange & Date Chutney. If it turns out well I'll post the recipe for you later. There is some more Souper Mix which I can't make fast enough, frankly, it is sooo popular, and today it's been Fiery Bengal Chutney with Scotch Bonnet Chillies. We are off to Legoland tomorrow until Saturday with the little guys but Sunday will be Piccalilli I think.
While I have been making I have also been trying to photograph what I am doing so that the library of 'stills' gets more comprehensive. Not easy balancing the camera whilst stirring the pans! There is going to be an accident one of these days! I am really pleased with the mobile recipe site I have devised it so that you can look up recipes on the go and soon you will be able to interrogate the site to find all that you need really easily. The problem is some of the recipes don't have photographs yet so it is those gaps I am trying to fill first. So bear with me, I will get there. There are just a couple of what I took today at the bottom of the page so a good start.
I'll just leave you the lovely recipe for Apple, Pear and Plum Jam which I also made this week - it is easy to make at the moment as there is not much around to get excited about and it is very delicious!
Apple, Pear and Plum Jam
Makes around 4.5 - 5kgs / 10-11lb
900g/2lbs cooking apples, peeled and cored
900g/2lbs pears, peeled and cored
900g/2lbs plums - I used up some frozen ones I had ( make sure the stones are removed )
grated juice and zest of one large lemon
2.5 kgs/5lbs 4oz sugar
Prep all of the fruits and then put into a large preserving pan with the lemon juice.
Cook until it is softened then add the sugar off of the heat.
Stir until dissolved and then return to the heat and bring to a rolling boil.
Boil rapidly for 15-20 mins until setting point is reached.
Pot up the jam into warm jars - and enjoy.
There are still some places left on my regular classes and the new Master Classes are now available - phone or email me for more details. Next Professional Day for Artisans at The Old Smithy is May 24
I was sitting at the table in The Old Smithy working away, waiting for some marmalade to cook. In walks daughter-in-law Tania and Samuel, just 1 year - and Batman.
Batman lifted the corner of his mask 'Don't worry Nanny, it's only me' Phew! For a moment there . . .he had come to see Daddy, working upstairs. 'Be careful on the stairs Batman!' 'It's alright - I have a cape.'
It's been a strange day - really, really busy email-wise. Making more marmalade, devising a new recipe for a chutney - secret at the moment. Finalising details to demonstrate at a large show in the Summer - secret at the moment. Talking to a major new client - erm, still secret oh - and agreeing to supply a local community shop - can't say about that yet either. Meeting to discuss major new scheme I have planned for you - guess what? No, I can't! Golly - just call me 'M'!
I am hugely excited by all of these things, even though I can't share them with you just yet but nevertheless I still have to go home soon and tackle the cliff face of ironing. My life isn't all rock and roll you know.
Before the jam season finally begins I thought I would share with you a poem sent to me by Brian Cusworth and written by his long suffering wife Shirley - he said it was alright for me to tell you about this!
I have a sticky kitchen,
It’s full of strawberry jam,
Put there by my husband,
Cross? Oh yes I am!
On the kitchen surface,
And the cupboard door,
It’s even on the tea towel,
And on the kitchen floor!
‘How will it be cleaned?’ I ask,
As I see my husband run,
I guess it will be me again,
When all is said and done!
Don't forget the new Master Classes - details on FaceBook - Rosie Makes It Easy
There are spaces on some of the regular classes also
Well, we’re back home from this year’s World Marmalade Awards at Dalemain in Penrith. If you didn’t go, that’s a shame – perhaps you should start making plans for next year now. If you did go I hope we had a chat as I was busily demonstrating my whole fruit method of making marmalade. I talked to hundreds of people and was quite hoarse by the end of the show – at least Trev had a peaceful drive home!
I also took part in the Q&A session on both days with the fabulous Dan Lepard – supreme bread maker, Jane Maggs Gold award winner several times over, Pam ‘The Jam’ Corbin and Jonathan Miller from Fortnum & Masons. Everyone else on the panel is involved in the judging of the event and I always end up feeling inadequate because of their very scientific approach.
My offering is much more on a practical level based on my experience, and a voice for the novice, the amateur, those with little preserving confidence and the person who approaches me with ‘I know this is a silly question . . . ‘ No question is silly, if you need to ask it, and I never tire of answering them if I can. I love people to learn, to understand, and to feel empowered enough to have a go.
Preserving isn’t, literally, an exclusive past-time open to only a few – everyone could – and should – experience the joy of preserving something they have grown or foraged, whether that foraging takes place in the urban setting of a market or supermarket. The ingredients are inexpensive, the equipment is minimal and the methods are simple. So my mission is to get everyone having a go – what’s the worst that can happen? Oh – and since you ask and I wouldn’t have mentioned it – I won Bronze for my Savoury Lime & Ginger Marmalade with Cracked Black Pepper. Next year I hope it is you.