Wednesday, 16 September 2009
Ankle Deep in Jam.
I've been working hard over the last few days but haven't produced anything worth blogging about due to the infamous membrillo disaster, the dodgy Quince jelly and the fact that I won't know the outcome of the green tomato mincemeat experiment until it's matured for a few weeks.
I think I'm finally staggering wearily to the end of my marathon jam making season. I've raised my head from the preserving pan and surveyed the wreckage of my household. The cooker top is covered in red wine syrup splashes and I'm sure they're membrillo splodges I've spotted on the ceiling. The living room has disappeared under a drift of empty jam jar boxes which the children have turned into a train and a small heap of jam jar lids still sit in the hallway where I deposited them soon after delivery.
On the plus side the children have become feral *cough* I mean remarkably self sufficient, Xanthe appears to have learned how to use scissors while my back was turned and Willow seems to be reading all of a sudden.
The big question is what am I going to do with it all? Of course I haven't just got jam, there's also chutneys, bottled fruit, ketchups, cordials and stocks of fruit in the freezer. I've been careful to make sure I have a good supply of fairly sharp, 'dry' flavoured jam which can also be used in savoury sauces. A simple one is to mix about a quarter of a jar of sharp jam with minced garlic, ginger and chillis and a generous splosh of white wine or cider vinegar. It makes a sweet chilli style sauce which is lovely poured over tuna steak, pork or chicken.
This article by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall in the Guardian changed the way I think about using preserves. I now can't make a stew or casserole without adding half a jar of something homemade, his tagine idea in particular is genius, I can heartily recommend chicken with apricot chutney.
So, just a few loose ends to tie up before I can call time on the 2009 season. On my to do list is sloe jelly (fab in gravy) membrillo #2, rowan jelly and hawthorn ketchup .... did I say I was nearly done??