OK - I know I've already posted this but some of you may not have seen it . . .
Quick message - are any of you artisans out there interested in buying bulk vinegar at modest prices? Comes in 25litre polypins in all varieties of vinegar, Email info@(insertguildwebsiteaddresshere) if you are interested as I have to make up a full load of 32 x 25litres. Let me know which you would like and I will get back to you with prices - malt, cider, white wine, red wine, distilled.
Hands up Rosie Makes Jam - confess all to your dear Readers.
OK, OK - I burnt a pan.
Much worse than that - I DIDN'T CLEAN IT UP STRAIGHTAWAY!!!!
It's a good job you can't see my cheeks burning with shame.
Now, here's the thing. I was making - going to make, some gooseberry chutney. I had some frozen gooseberries left from last season and thought I had better get something done with them before this year's arrive. I put them on to cook very low, with about a teacup of water to prevent them sticking before they had cooked down.
THEN I TOOK A PHONE CALL. Never do this Ladies and Gentlemen. The danger is that you will forget all about the fruit cooking on the hob, your phone call will go on, and on, and on. Eventually the burning smell will infiltrate your nostrils and this will be the result.
Now, normally - bearing in mind I hardly ever do this - I would scrape off as much residue as I can, cover the base, hopefully still hot, with a thick layer of bicarbonate of soda, pour in some vinegar and leave overnight to work away. The bicarb foams up in the vinegar and works like a magic potion - most of the burnt bits just come away.
I rootled around under the sink for the bicarb - only to recall that I had used it all on my brick path as it is brilliant at safely killing weeds. Does it by altering the PH of the soil and they don't like it. Very effective it is too and doesn't harm things like weedkiller does. Only weeds - and other plants if you scatter it around too near them. Sprinkle it over the area, water in, or sprinkle before a rain storm. Anyway this meant that I couldn't start this pan saving procedure straight away.
It has been there for 2 weeks now.
I bought more bi-carb at the cash and carry but I knew it would be difficult to effect a cure so late in the day, and so kept putting it off.
It was raining on Saturday and rather than do another job I didn't want to do I set about cleaning this pan. I shook in the bicarb.
I added the vinegar - nothing special just good old malt
Watched it foam encouragingly
After 10 minutes soaking
You can see that after just 10 mins of soaking - I haven't touched it in this time - some of the burnt stuff is being affected by the bicarb+vinegar. It had stopped fizzing so I added about a teacup full of boiling water which re-activated it - I then left it to stand overnight.
Boiling water added
. . . the next day
You can still see a thick layer of burnt gooseberries on the pan but you can also see the bottom of the pan - in quite a few places. When I rinsed out the pan and used my nylon scourer the bare pieces got bigger.
So I decided to set to with my metal scouring pad - no chemicals, just more bi-carb. Well, I suppose that is a chemical, but you know what I mean.
Within 5 minutes
In less than 10 minutes
So, the moral here is - never use all of your bi-carb on your weeds.
The thing is, you can clearly see scratches from an earlier episode which must have occurred when I briefly had help in my work kitchen - I never take a knife to a pan as it sets my teeth on edge! My mate Kev has this theory that once a pan has burnt, it will always burn without very careful management. This seem to prove his point. While there is no visible-to-the-naked-eye residue, I bet if you looked at this through a microscope it would look like the surface of the moon! From now on then, I shall use this pan just for this . . . and no cooking
I have lots of questions sent to me, and the most recent one was from Hannah,
( apologies, no pictures this time, but I think you all know what a cream tea looks like! )
I would like to ask your advice about producing larger quantities of jam and putting into plastic food grade tubs. The size of tub I am talking about is the 3 kg size.
In the village Where I live there is a tea room and the owner has spoke to me about putting my jam on their shelves for selling to the public, which is a great opportunity for me. However she Also suggested that they would like more of the jam in bulk so for them to use when they serve cream teas and also for use with their freshly made cakes and the toast and jam on the breakfast menu.
At present they buy the tubs from the cash and carry and use about 3x 3kg tubs of strawberry jam a week and 1x 3kg of apricot every 2 weeks.
I would love to supply them but I do not know of a cost efficient way to sell it to them unless I put it into a similar plastic tubs. But I do not know how I would go about doing this in terms of the hot jam on the plastic causing it to melt, or how to sterilise them safely and as the strawberry season is short I would hope to make quite a few tubs so storage would also be important.
Would you have any knowledge and advice about this?
I would be extremely grateful for your help.
Firstly, everyone wants strawberry jam all of the time. Why?
I train my customers to understand that there are different seasons for jam and a variety is a welcome point of difference for their business. That takes the pressure off of you because you are going to have to make a ton of jam 'in season' to service this kind of requirement. If you run out you are naturally going to try to replace with expensive, out of season fruit and thereby lose money.
I use the plastic pails for my supply. I fill them hot but don't seal them until the jam is cold and set, mainly because there is excessive condensation which would create mould.
If you manage to persuade your customer to have seasonal jam you won't have a problem with it keeping but you shouldn't have a problem anyway if it is kept sealed and in a dry, cool environment. I am not giving guarantees of this though as I just do not know - my customers use it pretty rapidly. I also make chutneys like this, for ploughman's lunches and sandwiches.
I am trying to get a Jampaign going, where tea rooms and hotels, B&Bs etc do use a variety of LOCAL, seasonal jam and offer a choice on their menues.It is commonplace with tea, coffee, cheese etc but everyone goes to the trouble of extolling the virtues of their freshly baked scones - and then serve it with a dollop of red jam from a bucket from the wholesaler. Why?
It is the same at county shows - you have the rare breeds farmer with their own burgers made from Buttercup, who led a lovely life in their verdant pastures before being hummanely dispatched to make this delicious burger, and then serve it with Happy Shopper sauce! What don't they get?
One positive, proactive idea, offer to do a tasting session with the café, with their staff, explaining the different jams, and let them try them with their scones and cream. Give an outline of the seasonality, what would be available when, and offer to supply the quantity they want - in the variety you have.It may be strawberry, or it may not. You can always give an idea of what next week's will be so that they can plan their cakes etc.In my opinion, a cream tea with hand made blackcurrant jam is hard to beat but I have never been offered this option after a lifetime of eating cream teas!
Be proud of what you do, don't sell yourself short, if they won't pay the price they don't deserve to buy and are not honouring the care and attention you have put into your preserves.If they won't pay the price you are going to end up being a busy fool - and still not make any money. Until we all start to value what we do, the quality of what we produce, how can we expect others to do the same?
Finally, I sometimes use a frozen fruit company who deliver in 10kgs quantities, are well priced which enables you to meet the demands of the customer whilst still providing a traditionally made jam. I make no unreasonable claims with my products, my statement is, 'I use local produce whenever possible.' This company have good quality fruit but it isn't necessarily British - but then mangoes aren't! It comes ready prepped, avoiding waste and 10kgs isn't too large to store in a domestic freezer or to get on and make if not.Don't try strawberries though as frozen strawberries don't make jam. Of course, fresh is always best but not always available in the quantities you need, even in season.
The company is Newberry International Produce their website is http://www.newberryint.co.uk/ and if you give them a call ask for Amy, who will be very helpful. (and no, they are not giving me a discount for promoting them!)
Apologies to those who have already read this on the Jam Guild blog . . . Quick message - are any of you artisans out there interested in buying bulk vinegar at modest prices? Comes in 25litre polypins in all varieties of vinegar, Email info@(insertguildwebsiteaddresshere) if you are interested as I have to make up a full load of 32 x 25litres. Let me know which you would like and I will get back to you with prices - malt, cider, white wine, red wine, distilled.
What''ya been doin' Rosie?' I hear you ask. Well, as is usual at this time of year, everything starts happening all at once. It is always a shock after the peaceful lull of Spring. Now the elderflowers are here bigtime, and they won't wait for no man, the herbs are plentiful and fresh and green and lush before the heat(!) of the summer sun dries them a little. So, of course, I have been making elderflower cordial first as we are supplying a big local lunch at The Mansion House, Burley, tomorrow, making lemon cordial as well.
I shall get on with some other elderflowery things in the next few days and if you need more ideas then have a look at my blog post on elderflowers. I made some Blackcurrant & Bay Vinegar and used the currants that were left over to make Blackcurrant Piquant Relish. I always try to use everything to the max and these currants were crying out to be saved. I had 450g of currants left after the vinegar soaking so I cooked 3 cooking apples in a tiny amount of water until soft, added the currants and bay leaves, 300g soft brown sugar and cooked until all was soft and luscious. It has an amazing flavour especially with soft cheese like Brie or Colwick. I don't yet know how long it will keep but as it has most of the regular preservatives - vinegar and sugar - I guess it should be OK
I have also been making Armagnac Prunes. Simplicity itself and an invaluable store cupboard item. Great for presents as well, you can serve them as is with some plain yoghurt, cream, or maybe on porridge for a boozy breakfast ( Christmas maybe ) My fav way is with a chocolate cake underneath them - plain, dense, moist, and with some of the prunes chopped and mixed into the cake batter. It is an easy cake made in a mixer, cooks quickly and serves at least 10.
Wicked Dark Chocolate Cake with Armagnac Prunes
250g soft brown sugar
125g plain flour
85g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
115g melted butter
120g Armagnac Prunes, chopped
250g Armagnac Prunes to spoon over cake when serving
Preheat oven 180 deg C, gas 4
Sift flour and cocoa powder together into a bowl
Place eggs and sugar into a mixer bowl and beat on high for 5-6 minutes until light and fluffy
Add the flour mixture a little at a time, followed by the vanilla, butter, chopped prunes and mix well
Pour into a 25cm springform cake tin, lined with baking parchment
Bake for around 35 minutes until cooked, cool on a wire rack.
Remove the cake from tin, place on serving plate, dust with a little more cocoa powder and spoon over the whole prunes and serve with thick cream