Busy, busy as usual but last Sunday I spent the day with the lovely Marina making just whatever took our fancy. We started off, as usual, with coffee and biscuits and a 'chat' - well - I talked mostly and poor Marina had to listen!
We started off by prepping the ingredients for Courgette & Mint Relish which had to be left in salt to draw out the water. Then we cooked up some blackcurrants and left them to drip through a jelly bag ready for some cordial after lunch and the-e-e-n boom, boom BOOM - we made some lovely Raspberry Jam. More to go through the principles of jam making than anything else.
By then it was one o'clock and very much time for a welcome lunch break, we tried some Lime Cordial and some Limoncello to fortify us for the afternoon session!
I devised this recipe when Trev and I were married, six years ago. We were having a lamb roast and my WI were providing salads and new potatoes - so the classic mint sauce wouldn't really have been suitable. This was a variation to that and proved so popular it is still one of my best sellers today. It is a great answer to the perennial problem of what to do with all of the courgettes - along with Ratatouille Chutney it is a very tasty preserve to make and keep for some of those Christmas buffet parties, and to be reminded of Summer.
I have been quiet of late, I do know that. Trev and I have been beavering away constructing a new website which you might like to take a look at www.lovejars.co.uk
A bigger, better offering than anything we have done in the past, the prices are great - naturally - but I have been sourcing some great products for the artisan producers out there. Many of you need small scale, but beautiful packaging that isn't all over the High Street, and that is just what we have had made for us - and you. I will continue with this theme as we go forward, and whilst anyone can buy from lovejars.co.uk you producers will find it especially helpful.
We know what it is like to run a small artisan preserves company - because we still do it. We know what is important to the small producer, what is needed. That is why delivery rates have been pared to the bone - with great rates for Ireland and the Highlands & Islands and FREE for orders over £100 for UK Mainland. We will always be working to reduce this cost as much as possible and we never make profit from delivery charges - you pay what we pay - and then again, sometimes you don't because it will be FREE - for you! For the first time we will be offering full pallet prices if you need a lot of one size. Delivery is included so all you pay is the pallet price. For now, contact us for details firstname.lastname@example.org .
We have created a login system for you so there will be no repeated completion of your details, saving you time. It will also mean that special prices for artisans on some products will not necessarily be displayed on the website.We will also be able to bring you special deals on ends of lines with some real bargains.We have links to the strong glass industry in the UK so most of our glass will be British - with a small amount from Europe. Soon there will be hard-to-find ingredients like bulk vinegars and spices to make your lives easier.
We have lots more planned to go on the website so check back regularly or you can subscribe to our newsletter ( free of charge of course ) so that we can tell you about new arrivals. We will be linked to my recipe site m.rosiemakesjam.com to give you ideas what to make and which jar to put it in. Don't forget on the recipe site that the recipes are scaleable - if you want to make more - or less, just adjust the weight of the main ingredient and the rest of the recipe will change accordingly.
I'll just put a few pics of the lovely things we have on lovejars.co.uk then leave you to browse around the site. I love jars and hope you do too!
my foraging bargains
Have you any of your special cordial Nanny? Er, no. Damn.
It would so easy to have had some home made cordial but I have just run out - too busy making marmalade. So this weekend I was determined to put it right. Cordials are so easy to make, and so delicious, bearing no resemblance to the highly coloured, synthetic tasting gloop we have come to expect as standard. Most of them don't even require any cooking and if you sterilise the filled bottles in a waterbath they will keep for up to a year, They won't though - as they are too delicious. The recipes for lemon and lime cordials are on my recipe site.
I had two mangoes left from the mango chutney last week, which were lovely and ripe, and when I was foraging for supper in our local supermarket yesterday they had a lovely big pineapple reduced to 60p. So I snapped that up and cooked it gently with the mangoes until everything was lovely and soft and then poured it all into a jelly bag to drip overnight. Today I added an equal amount of sugar to juice, plus a tablespoon of citric acid. I stirred the contents of the pan over a low heat to dissolve the sugar then poured into sterilised bottles. A great way to use up the mangoes. THEN . . .
I put the fruit from the jelly bag into a clean pan with 3 large chopped onions, 3 large peeled and chopped cooking apples, 900ml/1.5 pints cider vinegar, 900g/1.5 demerara sugar, 3 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon grated nutmeg and half a teaspoon of cinnamon. Cook gently together until it is all soft. Finely slice two chillies of your choice - I used Scotch Bonnets - and add to the chutney; cook for a further 20 mins. Pot up into hot, sterilised jars and seal tightly.
And there you have the best possible result - two stunning preserves from one lot of ingredients!
Do try making some cordials - they are so easy to do, and now is a very good time as there isn't much else on the horizon except the imminent arrival of the rhubarb season. Oh, speaking of rhubarb, I bought a small amount of rhubarb on the same trip to the supermarket and made some Rhubarb and Raspberry Cordial as well, with a few frozen raspberries left from last year. So, Nanny is all stocked up again - my next batch will be when the Summer berries are here, Mixed Berry, Beena, Raspberry & Redcurrant, whatever takes my fancy.
All cordials can be diluted with water, or sparkling water, soda, tonic water, add some gin or vodka if you like. They can be poured neat over ice-cream or diluted and made into lovely ice lollies - a brilliant money spinner at the school fete!
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