Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Art of Jelly Making!

Jelly jelly, good for the belly!
We used to say that, as kids when mum gave us jelly for dessert.

Well I have been making lots of jelly but a slightly different kind.
Jelly for putting on toast or a teaspoonful in your bubbly if its too dry!
This time its pear, apple and nectarine jelly. I had the fruit sitting around and it was starting to get old. A great way to preserve old fruit. Make sure some of it is apple as it has lots of pectin in it and you need that to make it jell.

beautiful colour and you can taste the nectarine even though I only put 4 in. About 8 pears and enough wild apples to fill the pot..
Roughly chop the fruit. No peeling or coring required just cut off any bruises or coddling moth damage. Cover with water and boil till soft, about an hour, you want it pretty soft so the juice runs out of the fruit readily.
Pour it into a cheesecloth suspended over a large bowl or pot and hang it there overnight or for 2 days, till it finishes dripping. Don't squeeze the pulp or your jelly will go cloudy. An upside down stool is good. I use a towel rack.

You can reboil the pulp again with more water and have a second lot.
I did this recently and added the second lot to the first lot which I had sitting in the fridge.
Actually I didn't turn all of it into jelly. I poured some in a glass with ice and some vodka and cold water or soda water. Mmm what a nice drink.

So when you are ready to make the jelly, add roughly 1 cup of sugar per cup of liquid. I try to put less than that, particularly if it is already sweet.
Boil it up in a big pot, no need to stir like jam as no pulp to get stuck to the bottom. So boil for some half hour or more. It should start to bubble up to the top of the pot, watch it doesn't boil over. When its at the top get your clean jars into the oven on 150C for 10 minutes or more of heating. Lids in a saucepan of water and bring them to the boil.
Have a saucer in the freezer all the time for jam and jelly making.
Put a few drops of jelly onto saucer, wait a mo and then push it with your fingernail, if it wrinkles its ready. If it globs and starts to jelly up, its ready.

Get your jars out of the oven and have them close to the pot. they are incredibly hot so be careful.
The lids should have boiled. Use some of that water to sterilise funnel, tongs and ladle. Your tea towels on the bench under the jars should be fresh and clean too.
Use tongs to take the lids out and turn them onto towel to dry.

Now focus, here is the scary bit. Well not really but be careful.
Ladle the jelly into the funnel over your jars, sometimes it fizzes and can boil in the jars and even boil out the top. If it rises poke it with your funnel to break the surface.
Fill the jars quickly or the jelly may set in the pot and then its impossible to get it into the jars and have it look nice.
The idea is to not have any bubbles suspended thru the jelly. Get good and you can win a prize at the show!



Saturday, March 9, 2013

preserving again!

Hi there, I have been preserving again, or should I say still. This is a jar of pinot noir grape and wild apple jelly held up to the window so you can see the dark red loveliness.
On the window sill are jars of fermenting tomatoes that I will collect the seed from for next years crop. Fermenting helps to kill any pests and pathogens that are in the fruit and will affect next years crop.

Here are the jars I made just now. All sizes for interest. These will go down onto my roadside stall to sell.
I was bloody lovely to eat, sweet and delicious.
I reckon a teaspoon full in a glass of bubbly would be awesome.

Actually I kept some of the uncooked juice out and put it in a glass with a slug of gin and some ice blocks. A bit of soda water and it would have been sensational but I didn't have any. It was still really nice.

This is some tomato ketchup I made yesterday. Using 6 kg of tomatoes I made 11 Jim Beam and cola stubby bottles of sauce. Should sell well I reckon!
You heard that Rosella is gone out of business? Well I have to make my own sauce now as I only liked Rosella tomato sauce. Actually I hardly ate it but if I was to that was the one.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Pinot Noir Wine

Hey there,
my wine making has been energised. A friend was given 50kg of Pinot noir grapes that were left over from their winery harvest. She gave me 2 buckets of them.

Pinot noir grapes
M helped me squish and squeeze them in our hands to make enough to fill a demi-john which holds a gallon.

Squished and squeezed
Here it is in our demi-John with yeast  and yeast nutrient. An airlock fitted and within an hour it is gurgling as the yeast gives off carbon dioxide and turns juice into wine.
I am enthused and eyeing off some ripe pears on the table. I even read a recipe for parsnip wine? Wonder what that would be like?

Friday, March 1, 2013

water bathing your tomato sauce

And so after you have separated the skins and seeds out of your tomato sauce. Put it on the stove in a big pot and add your flavourings. I use onions, garlic and grated zucchini (as I have a glut of them at the moment), also lots of basil. I saute the onions and garlic in some butter for more flavour. I cook this for a while until it is nice and thick. Then I decant it into large jars that I have washed in hot soapy water, rinsed and put into the oven for 20 minutes or so on 150 degrees C to sterilise them. I boil the lids in a saucepan to sterilise them. Make sure you sterilise any other equipment that may come into contact with the sauce like ladles and funnel.
Then put the jars carefully into a largest pot with a cake rack in the bottom so jars aren't sitting straight onto the pan bottom. Fill with hot water. You are trying not to shock your hot jars, so don't add cold water. Bring to the boil gently, can take an hour. Allow to gently boil/simmer for 20 mins. No hard and fast rule here, a friend of mine brings it to the boil and then turns it off and allows them to cool in the pot. I have read you should do it longer in the water and then take them out with special tongues and leave them to cool.
The lids should pop inward as they cool.
When they are cool if the lids haven't popped in then they will not keep. Either redo them, get new lids or decant into plastic containers and freeze or eat!
Here is a picture of mine just put into the bath. These will keep for a year or two, who knows how long our always get eaten before then.
Give it a go!

 Here is some I did recently along with 2 jars of zucchini soup.

I don't know why the first lot looks yellower than the second lot.

Most of my garlic harvest and some brown onions.

some jams and compotes I have made

These are my preserves for selling at the gate.
zucchini and onion soup, Yum!

Some of my white onions, I love to plait them and hang them around the house.

And the zucchini plague continues. But we don't really mind.

Tomato Time

Hi there,
Yes its that time of the year when I am glued to the kitchen, processing our produce for use later in the year.

Aren't they beautiful?

Mostly cocktail tomatoes in this bowl. I will try to sell some at the front gate on Sunday.

These are called Giant Pear tomatoes, well that's the common name. I have no idea what they are called in official circles. I had never seen them before last year when my neighbour gave me some. I saved the seed and grew my own this year. I love them, they are sweet and have little juice. Lots of flesh, good for sauce.

This is a collection of tommies I am saving for seed. I have romas, italian roms which are longer, giant pear, another flat fluted large variety, black russian, black Krim, yellow pear, a small red one which is sooo hardy, an apricot sized and coloured one, and a green zebra.

Freezing tomatoes is a great way of softening them up so they go through my wizz bang machine for separating the skins and seeds from the flesh.

Giant pears compared to a pear.
And here is the star of the show!

Feed soft or cooked tomatoes in the top and turn the handle, one side has juice the other seeds and skins. Fabulous.
Then when that is done I cook it up to reduce some of the liquid, add onions, garlic and lots of basil. This year I am adding some grated zucchini as I have lots.
When its cooked to a nice consistancy for putting over pasta, ladle it into large sterilised jars and put them into a water bath.
More of that in the next post!

A babe was born!

This sweet colt was born just down the road from us.

Here he is running with his mother only 2 days old!


Garden Photos

Indian Bean tree
Hi there,
just some random garden shots from Spring 2013.
Calla Lillies


Red Hot Pokers


Mini snapdragon