Just sometimes there is an 'awkward' customer who takes it upon themselves to try to take this apart and set it up again for their personal use. So it was this week. A customer who didn't create a log in so is just passing through - a customer who probably is coasting around for the cheapest price. I don't mind this because, who knows, they might just become loyal and long-term. I do this myself, I try out a new company and return to them and register next time. This customer phoned very close to the end of our call taking day ( the website is around the clock of course ) and asked if she ordered tonight would she get delivery tomorrow. I explained that this wasn't physically possible as the courier had already collected today's orders and she would receive the order the following day after, which was Thursday.
She heard 'yes of course, our warehouse team will remain to process your order of one box of jars and call back the courier who will express deliver in the morning for you.'
Sure enough, by lunchtime on the Wednesday she was on the phone wanting to know where her order was which had been 'promised to her'. Rob tried to get to the bottom of what she was complaining about but she was very rude so he passed it to me as I gesticulated beside him! So, it seems I was lying to her when I told her categorically it would be delivered to her on Wednesday morning as now I am saying it hasn't left the warehouse yet and delivery will be on Thursday!
There was a lot more about our terrible service and lying to customers just to get orders etc etc. I replied that the only way I could have done more to help would have been to put it in my car and deliver it myself. To which she replied - 'Oh, could you? That would be fantastic.'
I was so upset when I came off of the phone as I felt she had goaded me into being rude to her which, after more than 10 years of doing this hadn't happened before and I felt I had let myself down. I was actually waiting for someone - a 'boss' - to reprimand me, or even sack me - then I thought 'you are the boss, stupid!'
So lovely customers, please be understanding of what it takes to produce all of this - we aren't Amazon. There are no robots or 24 hour or even same-day deliveries. Its just me, Trev and Rob doing our best for you.
A loving spoonful
However, it is simple enough. The unusual name dates back to a time when diligent housewives in Greece would make delectable sweetmeats called Spoon Fruit to serve to their friends who may come to call socially. Instead of proffering a cup of coffee and a biscuit, a small tray would be placed in front of the guest who would know that everything had been prepared by the lady of the house. There would be a small cup of strong black coffee, a glass of iced water and a spoon fruit on it's decorative silver spoon, resting on a saucer. It was just a sweet mouthful but plenty to restore spirits and for the guest to know that she was being revered. What a charming custom.
The fruits may have been plums or cherries, or, as in this case, apricots.
I had three large jars to fill so used seven apricots per jar - there were quite large fruits. I had halved and stoned them and packed them into the jars quite tightly. I tucked three pieces of whole vanilla pod down the sides of each jar and laid a sprig of flowering thyme across the top.
The point about the spoon fruits is that they are poached in wine of some kind which generally matches their colour and flavour. I used a 375ml of Beaumes de Venises pudding wine - I emptied it all into a small saucepan and added 50g of caster sugar. Heat this together until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is hot. Divide equally between the three jars - if you don't have quite enough to fill the jars top up with boiling water.
Put the lids onto the jars bit do not do them up tightly. You will need to process the jars in a waterbath for around 30mins - seal the lids when you remove the jars from the pan. Most recipes will suggest poaching the fruit in the wine before putting into the jars but I find just heating them in the waterbath keeps them in better shape. ( For waterbath instructions follow link in red above)
If you don't have visiting friends to impress then eat your Spoon Fruit with good quality vanilla ice-cream or creamy rice pudding as a boozy pud.
It's official name is an Electric Steriliser and the one we have listed at the moment is a 27 litre capacity. It will take 14 - yes 14 - stacked 1 litre clip top preserving jars at once making it a very economic way of water bathing in bulk. This is not a pressure canner so don't confuse the two however it does come with processing times for some soups and meat dishes.
When not being used for your preserving it makes a very good urn for drinks or soup, mulled wine - anything liquid that you want to heat and serve. A convenient tap allows for easy filling of bottles or dispensing of drinks - or emptying at the end of a processing session.
Take a look at the new Electric Steriliser and see what you think.