Category Archives: Preserves

Preserves and sauces all with all natural ingredients from English Country Cooking.

Plum orange and cardamom jam - Christmas Jam! © Sue Todd Photography 2015

Plum, orange and cardamom jam

We call this plum, orange and cardamom jam, ‘Christmas Jam’ and if you make it you’ll understand why.  We first made this last autumn in late September and the whole house smelt of Christmas in the most fabulous way.  So if you have plums in the freezer get them out and give this a whirl.

This recipe is one of Diana Henry’s in a lovely book called ‘salt sugar smoke’ and it is all about preserving fruit, vegetables, meat and fish.  We’ve not used it anywhere near enough yet but this recipe is just wonderful.

Marmalade is great on toast but this jam is possibly way better and of course, there’s also the smell, did I mention the smell?  I’d love to bottle the smell of this cooking.

Plum orange and cardamom jam with home made bread © Sue Todd Photography 2015

Plum orange and cardamom jam with home made bread © Sue Todd Photography 2015

Ingredients:

  • 4 thin-skinned organic oranges
  • 1.2kg or 2lb 12oz plums
  • juice of 2 limes and 1 orange
  • ground seeds of about 20 cardamom pods
  • 800g (1lb 12oz) granulated sugar

Method:

Before you start, put your jam pots to warm ready for the jam when its done.

Start by slicing your oranges into really thin slices, removing any seeds as you go.  Cut the slices into quarters and pop them in a pan with 150ml (5fl oz) of water.  Bring the oranges and water to the boil, then reduce the heat, add a lid and cook the orange quarters for about 20 minutes until they are soft.  The idea is to have the same amount of fluid at the end that you started out with so you may need to add a drop more.

While the orange is cooking, chop the plums in half, removing the stones and cut them up into slices too.  Put the plums into a preserving pan along with the oranges and water, the orange juice, half of the lime juice, and the ground cardamom.

Bring the mixture up to the boil.  Once it’s reached boiling point, lower the heat and simmer gently until the plums are soft – about 15-20 minutes.  The kitchen will now smell delicious and it will begin to permeate through the house – enjoy.

Now add the sugar and simmer gently stirring all the time to dissolve the sugar.  When the sugar has all dissolved, bring the mixture to the boil and keep it at a boil until it reaches setting point.  I use a thermometer but also the old-fashioned wrinkle test.

Plum orange and cardamom jam © Sue Todd Photography 2015

Plum orange and cardamom jam © Sue Todd Photography 2015

Once it’s reached setting point remove from the heat, skimming of any scum from the top before adding the last of the lime juice.

Pot up the jam into dry sterile jars, cover and seal.  This jam needs to be refrigerated once you open it but keeps well in the larder for up to a year – if you can manage to leave it alone that long.

Then just enjoy!  Especially enjoy the smell of Christmas each time you take the lid off. This would make a lovely gift for Christmas too.

 

Seville Orange Marmalade

Seville Orange Marmalade © Sue Todd 2015

Seville Orange Marmalade © Sue Todd 2015

January and it’s that season once again, the Seville Orange Marmalade season!  Once you’ve made your own marmalade its impossible to go back to the stuff you buy from shops, it’s over sweet and so lacking in taste compared to the real thing.  Actually its much the same with any sort of preserves, home-made are always better.

I made this version of Seville Orange Marmalade for the first time just after moving home a few years ago, where I found myself with my very first AGA!   Not being very sure where to start I raced off to get some ‘AGA’ books.  This recipe comes from Mary Berry and her book ‘The AGA Book‘, which I highly recommend, it has a host of useful AGA information in it as well as some great recipes and instructions.  Everything is of course very easy in an AGA, but when confronted with one for the first time ….. it doesn’t seem possible. Continue reading

Pine Needle Vinegar

Pine Needle Vinegar © Sue Todd 2014

Pine Needle Vinegar © Sue Todd 2014

Yes, you did read that correctly.  While I was looking around online a few days ago I stumbled somehow over the subject of Pine Needle Vinegar – I can’t for the life of me remember what it was, that I was actually looking for, in all likelihood it was forgotten after reading about this.

According to various web resources, Pine Needle Vinegar is as good as if not better than Balsamic Vinegar.  Since we  love Balsamic Vinegar, it doesn’t funnily enough appear to come down in price, and there’s an entire wood of pine needles just behind the house it seemed rather stupid not to try it out, so yesterday I did just that.

It is very easy to do, my only issue was the lack of cider apple or white wine vinegar that we seem to have, another thing to add to the shopping list.   It’s meant to work with either one, but we only had a small amount of cider apple vinegar or I’d have made a bit of both.

Ingredients:

  • Pine needles
  • Cider apple or White Wine Vinegar

Method:

Exact quantities are not given and you’ll understand why in a moment.  First of all gather your pine needles.  Gary brought me in twigs, which we washed and dried (probably not necessary but ….) and then you simply pull the needles off and pop them into a Kilner jar or something similar.  Whatever you use remember that vinegar isn’t too fond of metal tops.  Pack them in loosely.

Heat a quantity of vinegar to boiling point and leave to cool.  It may be an idea to measure how much you need to fill your jar before you start filling it – I didn’t bother as my vinegar supply was pretty limited anyways and I wasn’t expecting to have any leftover.

Once the vinegar has cooled pour it over your pine needles and seal.  That’s it!  Leave for six weeks in a darkened cupboard, then use as you would Balsamic Vinegar.

Since this is my first time of making it I’ve no idea what it will be like, but I’ll update this post in six weeks time to let you know.  However its fast, easy and very cheap compared to nice Balsamic so it has to be worth trying.

 

Tomato and Red Pepper Ketchup

Tomato and Pepper Ketchup © Sue Todd 2014

Tomato and Pepper Ketchup © Sue Todd 2014

Tomato ketchup, love it or hate it, it’s everywhere. In some places it’s a standard always available add-on, while other places try hard to avoid serving it all. We’ve generally had a bottle of that famous variety in the fridge along with a few others our boys enjoyed while they were at home. Right now though the house is devoid of ketchup of any sort. I looked at it in the supermarket the other day and decided not to buy anymore. I’m happy to have ketchup, but it needs to be home made, I’m getting more and more fussy over what we eat and what goes into our food. I can almost hear the children groan at that last remark, more fussy? How can that be? But the minute I see a list of E numbers, colours or preservatives or other items I don’t recognise as food, I just don’t see the point in buying it. What I want is food, real food, with JUST food in it, nothing reconstituted, nothing chemical.  Continue reading