Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Using the autumn bounty

I am slightly overwhelmed with all the fruit and vegetables that need attention at the moment.

There are loads of quinces on the tree.  They are not quite ready, but will be perfect for making jelly next week.  I couldn't resist using a couple of the riper ones to make pot-roasted quinces though.  I roughly used Nigella Lawson's recipe, which she says she got from Maggie Beer.

Before you start, wash the down off the quinces.
Put 1/2 a kilo of castor sugar and 750ml of water in a large saucepan and add one chopped up quince (skin, pips and all).

Bring to the boil and simmer until you have a thick syrup.  This can take up to an hour, but I was impatient and only gave it 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200c.
Cut each of the remaining quinces in half (I had three) and place cut side down in a roasting tin.  Pour over enough syrup to come up to about 1cm deep and put the quinces in the oven for an hour.

Turn the heat down to 160 and cook for another 2-3 hours, basting from time to time and adding more syrup if they're drying out.  Turn occasionally to caramelise on both sides.  Mine looked a bit disastrous at this point, but seemed to look okay at the end.  These will be amazing in the AGA.
Serve with cream.

The other tree that is groaning is the crab apple:

I always make enough crab apple jelly to last a year, it is heaven with roast lamb.  Actually I have given up making gravy altogether and use crab apple or quince jelly instead.  I have to make extra this year for the school fete, which is in October.

This is my mother's recipe. Pick a big basket full:

Rinse them and put in a big pot (leave the stalks on and it doesn't seem to matter if a few leaves get in as well) and cover with water.
Bring to the boil and cook gently until tender.  This won't take long.
Strain the liquid through a fine sieve, then if you have one, put the fruit in a jelly bag (which I do, thanks Matt) and allow the juices to drain into a bowl.

Measure the liquid, and Mum's recipe says for each pint (600ml) of liquid allow 1 lb (500g) sugar.  I find this a bit sweet, so I use 400g sugar per 500ml.
Put the liquid and sugar in a large saucepan and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per 600ml and put a few cloves in a gauze bag (a clean square of chux will do, tied with string).
Bring the the boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.  

Boil until it reaches setting point (put a saucer in the freezer for 5 minutes, take it out and put a tablespoon of jelly on the saucer and return to the freezer for a couple of minutes.  If the jelly runs it is not ready, if you run your finger through it and it wrinkles it is ready).  This can take up to 45 minutes if you have a big pot, it depends on the ripeness of the fruit.

Bottle into hot jars ( I do this in the oven, about 100c for 10 minutes).

And there you have it, beautiful ruby red jelly.  Now I must address the apples, pears, quinces, rhubarb, tomatoes, late raspberries and last of the zucchini...

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