Saturday, March 26, 2011

Slow cook, No cook...

The first recipe is made with both apples and plums, but also pears (these can be omitted if you have none, just replace these with more apples/plums. The flavour can vary according to the variety of fruit chosen, my personal favourites (for most things) being Bramley apples, Conference pears and Victoria plums.

Apple, Pear and Plum Jam:
equal quantities of apples, pears and plums
grated lemon rind
fresh root ginger
Peel and core the apples and pears, then slice the flesh finely. Stone and chop the plums, the put all the fruit into a preserving pan with a little water (just enough to stop them sticking to the pan before they release their own juice) and simmer over low heat until soft and tender, and the mixture is pulpy.
Measure this pulp, and to each pint (600ml) add 1 lb (450g) sugar and the grated zest of 1 small lemon, plus 2 tsp grated fresh root ginger. Place back into cleaned preserving pan and and stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved, then raise heat and boil for about 10 minutes until setting point is reached. Pot into warm sterilised jars, seal and store.

This next suggestion is a way to make a supply of 'fresh' apples to last through the winter. Use firm, ripe apples (not Bramleys), and when preparing them, immediately place the cut slices into salted water to prevent them turning brown. Of course, if the rings break, smaller pieces of apple can still be dried. In the old days the 'rings' were more useful as they could then be hung on thin strips of wood to dry out over a warm range. Nowadays we use the oven or airing cupboard.

Because meringues are best 'dried out' in the oven, rather than cooked, have successfully dried meringues by piping them onto parchment paper strips and laying these on top of our central heating radiators, no doubt apples could also be dried the same way.

Dried Apple Rings:
First prepare a bowl of cold water, stirring in 2 tsp salt to each pint of water, then place this at the side of where you are preparing the apples.
Peel and core the apples, then slice them across (not too thinly) in rings and immediately place these in the salted water. When enough apples have been prepared, remove the rings from the water, pat dry with kitchen paper, and lay out to dry on a wire rack that has been covered with butter muslin/cheesecloth. Then place to dry in an even temperature (48 - 65C/120-150F) either in the oven (with the door slightly ajar, or in a warm airing cupboard.
The time taken will vary according to the thickness of the rings, but the rings will be dried when they have become leathery and slightly crisp at the edges. Cool thoroughly before being packed in paper bags (NOT plastic as this makes them sweat and go mouldy).