Sunday, June 03, 2007

Keep in Step with the Seasons

Summer can be a good time to make up chutneys:
Piccalilli :
3 lb ( 1.35kg) mixed vegetables (cauliflower, small onions, runner beans, cucumber, courgettes, etc)
3 oz (75g) sugar
1 pint (575ml) white vinegar
1 tsp turmeric
1 dessp mustard powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tblsp cornflour
Cut the vegetables into small pieces and put into a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Put a plate on top and a can of beans or something to weigh this down. Leave overnight and next day rinse the salt off the vegetables and drain well. Pat as dry as possible with a very clean towel.
Put vinegar, spices and sugar into a large pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Add the vegetables and simmer for 10 minutes. Blend the cornflour with a little vinegar and stir this into the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 4 - 5 minutes until thickened. Pour into warm sterilized jars and seal with vinegar-proof lids.

Some many years ago I used to make what is called a 'Rumpot'. Made by layering fruits with sugar and rum as they came in season and by the end of the year you end up with a very boozy pot of fruit. The liquid was drunk as a liqueur, and the fruits eaten with ice-cream etc. Here is a different version but made in exactly the same way:
The Brandy Pot:
5 or 6 lb (3kg approx) of fresh soft fruits (see method)
bottle of brandy
2 or 4 lbs (1 kg) sugar
Take a large stone or glass jar, and at the beginning of the fresh fruit season put in about a pound of strawberies (450g), add 8 oz (225g) sugar and cover with brandy. Cover the jar tightly with cling-film.
Repeat this as more fruits come into season: raspberries, peeled and sliced peaches and nectarines, just a few red and blackcurrants, some loganberries and blackberries. Layer each fruit with sugar and brandy stirring gently each time and always cover tightly.
At Christmas it is time to uncover, strain and bottle the liquer, the fruits should keep well in a glass jar for some time but keep an eye on it and serve the fruit with cream, in pavlovas etc.. even add a spoonful to a bowl of muesli.