P is for Plums…and lots of them

plum jam || cityhippyfarmgirl

plum crumble

When a surprise box of plums comes home, there is a tiny pause then a lovely mixture of excitement and ooooh, what am I going to do with them all!

Despite my fervent wishing I still don’t have a walk in pantry, with darkened rustic wooden shelves of assorted heights to store all my preserved goodies on. On the other side of the pantry, I also don’t have a long fermenting bench where I can store all of my current fermenting goodness. What I did have was a box of plums that needed sorting asap, a crowded bench top for fermenting and a small portion of a dresser cupboard to store things in.

I also had enthusiasm, and that should never be underestimated.

So what was to be made with that of box plums?

plum mead || cityhippyfarmgirl

Plum Crumble

Plum Jam

Chilli Plum Sauce

and the most exciting of them all

Plum Honey Mead

Plum Honey Mead was such a great experiment. The picture here is of the mixture at 24 hours old. Already it’s started to bubble a little, which only increased- and almost volcanically. I was happily telling anyone that paused for longer than thirty seconds beside me, (which can be awkward at pedestrian crossings and other generally non chatty public places.) More to come on this intriguing stuff, so in the mean time how about a Chilli Plum Sauce Recipe? Dead easy and surprisingly versatile in what you can smother things with.

chilli plum sauce || cityhippyfarmgirl

Chilli Plum Sauce

8 plums washed, stoned and quartered

100g fresh chilli

1 medium brown onion

4 cloves of garlic

2 cups (420g) brown sugar

1 1/2 cups (375mls) white vinegar

2 tsp salt

Process plums, chilli, onion, garlic together in a blender and then into a pot. Add the sugar, salt and vinegar and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep it at this level until the sauce thickens. Pop into a clean glass jar and keep in the fridge, (or alternatively process and store as you would jam.)

*****************

And to the winner of the little giveaway- Congratulations Zena from Twigs and Twine, I will be in touch shortly to get your address.

As for everyone else that took the time to comment on this post. I have to say, I feel so honoured to be a part of this online community. I know time is precious and there are thousands of incredibly interesting things to be looking at on the internet these days- so taking the time to comment here means a lot.

I also found it so interesting in hearing about what community meant to different people. I think in asking the question, it’s just confirmed things even more for me. Connectedness and a sense of belonging within a community (of any sort) is so incredibly important and so many of us within this small online space here- value that.

As I send virtual loaves of sourdough and little plates of biscuits to you all- again thank you. You all rock. 

Advertisements

Jammin’… Peach Punch and Nectarine

“We’re jammin, jammin’

I hope you like jammin’ too…”

Bob Marley

It’s that season again. Dripping ice creams, long hot nights, sneaky midday siestas, mangoes and jammin’.

Yes, it’s summer…although summer got confused this week and has brought out scarves, and minestrone. I don’t mind though, I can roll with the punches, especially if the punches involve a little Peach Punch Jam. Summer might be confused in Sydney, but elsewhere it’s still producing delicious stone fruit and this time of year it’s all about the stone fruit.

What better way to hold onto those summer tastes than to pop them in a jar and eat them through out the rest of the year. Clearly Bob Marley was a keen preserver of the seasons going by the lyrics of his song.

These make a really easy gift for someone, for Christmas time, birthday time… any old time. It’s seasonal, you can use locally grown fruit, recycle some glass jars, and it’s an inexpensive gift to give that tastes a bucket load better than any supermarket stuff.

Peach Punch Jam

2 kg peaches

1 litre water

2 kg sugar

juice of 2 lemons

approximately 80mls dark rum
I roughly skin and chop the fruit. Weigh it, generally fruit equals sugar amount. Then cooking the fruit up with the water, and gently with a hand held mixer blitz any big lumps. If you don’t have one of these, simply cut the fruit a little finer, (or enjoy your lumps.) Slowly add sugar and lemon juice.Cooking at a rolling boil, until cold saucer test stage. Add the rum once the jam has started to gel. In to sterilised jars and store.
*******

Nectarine Jam

2 kg nectarines

1 litre of water

2 kg sugar

juice of 3 lemons

Same method as above, without the rum.

lime and orange marmalade

If I could choose one thing to successfully grow I would have a lime tree.

A happy one that just insisted on giving and giving with lime after lime.

Yes, that’s what I’d have. No lime tree here, but I do have the occasional access to a short stumpy happy lime tree that gives up plump juicy limes just begging to be picked. Actually the limes didn’t have a choice, plucked from their leafy foliage, and slung into a box rather unceremoniously. I had marmalade on my mind as my stocks were low after last years batch of Cumquat and Lime Marmalade and I needed my citrus fix.

Lime and Orange Marmalade

limes thinly sliced

oranges peeled (I only used the flesh, not the skin)

chopped fruit in a bowl, (I used half orange, half lime) water just over the top, and soaked over night

weigh it all, and equal amount in sugar

cooked up, until marmalade passes the saucer test.

Blueberry Jam

Blueberry Jam

500gms blueberries

250mls water

bring it to a simmer

now slowly add

500gms sugar

1/2 lime juice

stir

a slow rolling boil until the jam thickens and passes the saucer test.

 

So what is the saucer test? Grab a small saucer and pop it in to the freezer while your jam is cooking. If you keep casting your eyes over the cooking jam, you will start to see the consistency changing, it will start to look like a thicker rolling boil. If you think it has started to thicken, get the cold saucer out of the freezer and dollop a small spoonful of jam on to it. Swirl it round a bit, and (hopefully) you will see that it has thickened up. Try running a finger through it. If it’s ready it will wrinkle a little and feel thicker.

summer loving jam


I don’t know if this was the best name for the jam. It’s been such an odd summer. Bakingly hot this week, a huge cyclone hitting the country and catastrophic flooding in recent weeks. The middle of the night being woken by the smell of a fire, it’s certainly been an odd summer. Fruit and vegetable prices are set to increase due to the natural disasters effecting so many farmers, so I actually feel kind of lucky to be able to even make this jam. To be in a position to cook up and store some of summers beautiful stone fruit offerings. Eaten mindfully and enjoying every spoonful that’s for sure.

Jam really is so easy to make. It’s been said countless times before, but it really is such a great way to preserve the season.

Equal parts sugar to fruit, (generally) if needed some pectin of some sort. Cook it up until it thickens and hey presto, done.

Summer Loving Jam

plums- two kinds

peaches

nectarines

juice of one lemon

 

ratio

1 kilo fruit

1 kilo sugar

500mls water

I just roughly chopped the fruit and then gently with a hand held mixer, blitzed any big lumps. If you don’t have that, cut it finer, (or enjoy your lumps.)

Cooking at a rolling ball, until cold saucer test stage. In to sterilised jars and store.

Coconut Sourdough with lashings of Strawberry Jam

Many many moons ago, when I was a footloose and fancy free youngster, I worked in England for a little old lady. Charged with looking after this delightful old lady, it was up to me to make sure she was cared for and entertained. Being a little old lady she didn’t like big meals but she sure liked lots of little ones. There was breakfast, morning tea, 11’ses, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper…alright maybe it wasn’t that many. But it felt like it. Afternoon tea however was a must. At precisely 3pm, a cup of tea and a little something to tide her over until the next meal would be served. Now more often than not, she would be rather partial to a packet of crisps and a quick nod off in the comfy armchair. Only for her to wake up awhile later with fallen crisps surrounding her and only the backpacker carer to blame it on.

Sometimes though, she would like a piece of cake or bread and jam. Accompanied with a little recital from the poetry in “Alice in Wonderland”. As I  was always happy to make cake and love to read this was always a really nice way to spend the afternoon.

Winter sun peaking through the curtains, little old lady with jam and bread perched on her knee and footloose and fancy free backpacker reading… “will you walk a little faster? said the whiting to the snail, there’s a porpoise right behind me and he’s stepping on my tail…”

Coconut Sourdough with Strawberry Jam- just the thing for a little afternoon tea.

Strawberry Jam

750gms roughly chopped and hulled strawberries

750gms sugar

1 lime juiced

1/2 lemon juiced

Cook the strawberries and sugar together. As there is no water in this recipe, keeping stirring continuously until moisture comes out of strawberries (otherwise it will burn.) Add juice of lime and lemon and cook until gets to wrinkle stage or do the saucer test. Bottle it up or just keep in a bowl in the fridge, (it gets eaten pretty quickly round here.)

Coconut Sourdough Loaf

175gms starter

1 1/2 cups bakers flour

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

200-250mls water

2 tbs honey

3/4 tps salt

What I did was mixed, over night ferment, 2 folds over about 5 hours. Final prove in tin for about 20 minutes. Baked at 250C initially for about 15 minutes and then down to 180C for a further 10 minutes. This was only a small loaf as it was an experiment. I’m not sure whether it’s the honey or coconut which hinders the rising process for the sourdough, (or it could be both). There were a few holes, but it is a denser loaf compared to my normal sourdough.

A hit though for The Monkeys when they were whooping it up for a little something to tide them over until dinner time.

The Lobsters Quadrille Lewis Carroll

“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail,
“There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle — will you come and join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?

“You can really have no notion how delightful it will be
When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!”
But the snail replied “Too far, too far!” and gave a look askance —
Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not, would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.

“What matters it how far we go?” his scaly friend replied.
“There is another shore, you know, upon the other side.
The further off from England the nearer is to France —
Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance.
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?

Embracing the Eastern goddess

Labneh and Rose Apple Jelly.

I was given this cookbook (Crazy Water Pickled Lemons) awhile ago. It’s a tantilizing mix of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and North African cooking. At the time I thought it was pretty but  thought a lot of the recipes were above me. All in the too hard basket, both with methods and ingredients. Then I revisited and woah mama! Of course I can cook out of this! Well I can at least hack a few recipes up and mama-fy them a bit.

First up Labneh. Labneh is a Lebanese Cream cheese, that has the taste of yoghurt but texture of cream cheese and couldn’t be easier to make. So easy you may just have to slap yourself  to believe, just how simple it really is.

First up make some yoghurt, or if you couldn’t be bothered…. buy it, a good natural one. Yoghurt is pretty easy to make though. Christine @ Slow Living Essentials has posted two great methods on making yoghurt. I do the quicker boil the kettle one. (and just a note, homemade yoghurt really is so much better than the bought stuff. No added ‘things’, it’s a LOT cheaper, its easy to make, and your cutting down on all those plastic tubs. Easy to flavour as you like.)

Back to the Labneh. Yoghurt made, and it’s time to to put it in a sieve and some muslin, and leave it for 12-24 hours. My book said for 24 hours, I did it for 12- depends on how quickly the liquid drains out of the yoghurt. Unwrap the muslin and voila! Labneh.

Next step in embracing my inner middle eastern goddess was Rose Apple Jelly. Sounding exquisite, and the colour divine, thursday night was jelly making night. (Naturally I was going to hack the recipe up and make it simpler.)

First roughly chop up your apples, seeds, core, skins and all. Cook it up until soft (approx 40 mins) then carefully drain off the liquid into another pot. Now the recipe did say to leave it for 12 hours in a jelly bag (or muslin) but I didn’t have that time so did it the quick way.

For every 600mls of liquid, add 375grams of sugar. Cook up along with juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 long strip of lemon peel. Cook until gels on small cold saucer. Add rose water to taste. (The original recipe asked for rose petals- with no access to lovely roses, I was going to have to skip that bit too. If by chance you would like to make your own rose water, Dana at  Fleur De Sel posted on making it.

Result? A really delicately flavoured, gorgeously coloured jelly. I hadn’t made jelly before and kept taking it up to the light and letting it sparkle.

Sparkle it did.