You can't beat beetroot
Having failed to make the Smooth Beetroot Chutney yesterday, I got it done today. I wore my beetroot sweater ( so the splashes don't show ) and soon had a pan bubbling away. This is how it went.
After prepping everything - beetroot, apples, onions, it all goes into the pan with red wine vinegar, demerara sugar, ground ginger and salt.
Cook it slowly for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours, then, working in about three to four batches, process the contents of the pan through a goblet liquidiser or a food processor until smooth-ish. Tip the batches into a clean pan as they are finished and then stir the whole lot together to combine before returning to a low heat.
Gently re-heat the smooth chutney until it is hot and ready for jarring. Be very careful not to have the heat too high - once it is smooth, this chutney 'bloops' and explodes all over the worktops and walls if you don't watch it. Hence the beetroot sweater! Pot into hot, sterilised jars and seal immediately. This chutney can be eaten straightaway and is brilliant for spreading in sandwiches, with or without cheese. If you don't want the chutney smooth then leave out the processing but cook for a little longer.
Apple and Pears - and Quinces!
Well I don't know about you but I am pretty much buried in apples! The strong winds have 'picked' the rest of the large cookers for me so it's nose to the grindstone now and I am busy making lots of chutney. My Spiced Apple Chutney is a very popular all rounder with my customers - lovely and dark, a nice fruity flavour. There have been plenty of pears too so I have experimented with some Pear & Orange Chutney - I am very pleased with it and it is absolutely delicious.
Another seasonal chutney I have devised is Beetroot & Elderberry - a gorgeous colour and the elderberries' tartness is offset very nicely by the sweetness of the beetroot - very tasty with a lovely smooth Brie as you can see! There are lots more recipes on my recipe site.
Been busy compiling a 2014 Jam & Preserves Calendar. It has a recipe for each month and comes in a handy case similar to a CD so that it can stand on a desk or kitchen shelf. I have also included a very useful jar lid size gauge so that you can be sure to buy the right sized replacements. It would make a great present as it is small and light to post - there will shortly be wrapping paper and gift cards as well.
The New Chix on the Block have really settled down, grown all of their new feathers and now eat absolutely everything they can get their little beaks around. They are laying well and I often have surplus eggs for sale in The Old Smithy. They love scratting about in all of the fallen leaves now and Trev and I have been busy putting up a plastic greenhouse as a shelter from the wind/rain/snow for them - they won't go back in their run once they are up and about - that is for going to bed! They are all very vocal and love 'chatting' to me when I get back from work - goodness knows what they are saying!
A neighbour brought in bags and bags of Quince today - lovely big, fragrant fruits so I am experimenting with an old, French recipe - I'll update you in the next blog when I see how it turns out. Quince keep for quite a long time so be sure to snap some up if you see them on sale, there will be plenty of time to make some lovely jams and jellies. So, more mincemeat - then Cranberry Relish, Butterscotch Sauce, Red Cabbage & Beetroot Chutney - Christmas is on the way!
Feastivals and Jampionships
Well - phew - back from all of our travels, bags and car unpacked, washing on ( except for the lot we left in a Travelodge in Oxford! ) What a rollercoaster three weeks.
It started with judging at Taste of the West Awards in Exeter which is where I first met this year's World Jampion, Susan Young - but I'm jumping ahead. We spent a very happy day together judging some of the contenders and then finally arriving at the Best of the West. It was an absolute clear winner - which was a relief.
On our way home we had a very welcome visit with Guild of Jam and Preserve Makers patron, Pam Corbin. We had a long chat about the new regulations and what the likely outcome was going to be. I reported to her that I had had a visit from Trading Standards who informed me that the new regulations are a European Directive - which means we have to implement them whether we like it or not. So all of the discussions and consultation process is largely a waste of time.
Then, it was on to The Big Feastival at the weekend where we made lots of jam and talked to lots and lots of visitors. Two Table Sessions demonstrating making Wholegrain Mustard sealed what was a very busy two days. Back home with just two days clear for answering emails - more washing - then off to Dundee to The World Jampionships!
Dundee could not have looked more stunning in the sunshine and the setting of The World Jampionships was perfectly staged. Capturing everything good at the heart of jam making, a celebration of the long heritage of fruit growing in the area. It was an acknowledgement of the work and risks that had to be taken two generations ago to make the berry growing industry what it is today - I loved it.
Again we made lots of jam, all sold in aid of Breast Cancer Care Scotland and spoke to many, many people. I spent a jam making session with some youngsters from the No 5 centre - I was privileged to tell them that they had won a Bronze Award for their Raspberry & Cinnamon Jam. It was a pleasure to work with Leon, Eden, Dillon, Scott and Casey and I hope that they will continue to make jam for themselves and their families - and enter next year of course!
Huge congratulations to all of the winners and especially to Susan Young, this year's World Jampion in the artisan class, and Marjorie Paulson, Homemade Jampion.
Back to The Old Smithy now and trying to catch up. Emails, phone calls - not to mention catching up with the chutney making. My mate Kevin, who took one of the classes during my absence - a little too well I might add - brought me a great box of beetroot. They have been almost impossible to get in our area so Spalding came up trumps and I have been busy getting them cooked into delicious chutneys. One of my experiments has been Beetroot & Elderberry, which so far seems to taste great - no reason why it should change, I suppose. I shall do a couple of batches of my Red Cabbage & Beetroot Chutney with Prunes & Balsamic Vinegar - always popular. There is also Smooth Beetroot Chutney as well of course - these recipes are all on the recipe site - I'll post the Beetroot with Elderberries if it turns out OK, too soon to tell.
The New Chix on the Block were pleased to see us when we got back - there have had to be lots of treats of course - I never thought I would be cooking corn on the cob for chickens but there we are.
Thank you to everyone who came to speak to us, and who made us so welcome in Scotland. A big thank you to Kevin as well for holding the fort, and Rob for looking after the feathered ones.