How To… make any jam.

This post is part of the Nutritional Health Series, check the tag for the other posts!

Jam is a great way to make use of large amounts of fruit or slightly damaged or defrosted fruit. Many people don’t think they have the time for jam, but really, it’s fast, simple and will save you a lot of money on wasted fruit and buying jams!

1: The basics.

Jams come in three distinct forms. A jelly, made from only the juice. A jam, made from crushed fruit and juice. And a compote, a jelly with whole fruit preserved in it. They are all made largely from fruit and sugar, but sometimes use gelling agents like pectin or gelatine to help them along.

2: Fruit.

You need fruit for a jam or jelly. At least 500g or 1lb of fruit is needed to make a large portion of jam, but with the microwave method you can make smaller batches! Fruit juice is also an option.

In some jams, like marmalade, you use the rinds of the fruit as well as the flesh and juice.

3: Sugar.

The most efficient sugars for jam are crystal sugars, like white sugar, demarera sugar or brown cane sugar. But soft sugars like honey, palm sugar or maple syrup can work too, with a bit more patience.

The perfect ratio for jam is between 50/50 and 1/3 sugar to 2/3 fruit.

4: Gelling.

If you’re really not sure your jam will set, consider using a gelling agent.

  • Pectin is a natural fruit gelling agent you can use to firm up a jam.
  • Gelatine comes from animal bones and collagen, but may make your jam too solid.
  • Packaged jelly is easier to use for a bit of flavoured firmness.
  • Agar is a seaweed product that is used instead of gelatine in veg*n dishes.

5: In a pot.

The traditional way. You put your fruit in a pot and simmer until it begins to break down and release fluids. Then you add the sugar slowly, stirring the whole time. Reduce the jam and let it cool.

6: Microwave.

Small batches of jam can be made in the microwave. Just crush the fruit and sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl, cook for a minute at a time and stir in between until it becomes viscous.

7: Raw.

If you combine gelatinous fruit, like bananas, persimmons or lychee, with your sweet fruit and sugar of choice, you can make a tasty raw jam. Just blend 1/3 gelatinous fruit with 1/3 fruit pulp (mash the sweet fruit and squeeze the juice out) and 1/3 your sugar of choice. A viscous sugar like palm sugar, maple syrup or honey works best.

8: Jars.

Traditional jams can be preserved in a jar. Be sure to soak the jar in boiling water first and fill and seal it while it’s still hot. If you have a canning station, this may be the best option, but otherwise hot jam into a hot jar and seal works fine. My jams last a whole year like this without going off.

9: Fridge.

Microwave and raw jams are best kept more aerated in a bowl with a lid in the fridge. They keep 5-10 days, less if less sugar is involved.

And that’s how to make any jam you fancy. Almost all fruits can be jammed, but gelatinous fruits, apples, pears and berries will jam easier due to their high pectin content!

What’s your favourite jam or preserve?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

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How To… make any ice cream.

Everybody loves ice cream. Or should. It’s a delicious frozen treat. It can taste of whatever you want it to. The only pity is that the best ice creams are sort of expensive.

Well, here I am to remedy that! I love making ice cream at home and it’s so simple and easy that you’ll wonder why you didn’t make it before.

1: The cream.

For your ice cream you need a creamy base. This doesn’t actually have to be cream, believe it or not. Just something that’s thick and smooth at room temperature.

Some ideas:

  • double cream
  • hand-whipped cream
  • evaporated milk
  • coconut cream
  • nut butter
  • mashed bananas
  • mashed avocado
  • frosting
  • blended persimmons

Again, anything that’s thick and creamy at room temperature.

2: The jam.

The second stage is the sweet or flavoured element. It doesn’t have to be a literal jam, but it needs to have a runny consistency and a strong and pleasant taste. This could be anything. You can even make a savoury ice cream if you want.

Some ideas:

  • jam
  • honey
  • smoothie
  • ganache
  • chocolate spread
  • nut butter
  • sauce

Anything that is runny but not liquid and adds taste.

3: The extras.

A teeny, tiny bit of something for taste. Can be anything as long as it doesn’t ruin the consistency of the ice cream.

Some ideas:

  • herbs and spices
  • essential oils
  • alcohol
  • nuts and seeds
  • fruit juice
  • honey and other sweeteners
  • salt

4: Blend.

Take a blender and mix the three elements together. Pour into a freezer-safe tupper.

5: The toppings.

A bit of colour, texture and flavour to sprinkle on top. Something light and contrasting.

Some ideas:

  • nuts and seeds
  • fruit pieces
  • berries
  • melted chocolate
  • melted toffee
  • candy bars
  • leaves
  • salt
  • pieces of ginger or cinnamon

6: Freeze.

Once you’re happy with how it looks and tastes, put it in the freezer for at least 24h.

7: Lightly defrost.

Some cream bases freeze very hard. Others freeze very softly. Make sure that it is perfectly scoopable before you try and serve.

8: Serve.

Dish it up, maybe with extra toppings.

Consume within four months for best taste.

WWW. Spring Lamb, Nutty Bread, Ice-Cream.

Apologies for not being around as much! Due to exam-panic among GCSE students, I’ve been very busy so non-scheduled posts and comments sat on the back burner for a while.

I have now scheduled Wednesday and Friday afternoons as blog time, for working on the Wok, FitFriday, processing comments and working out next week’s posts.

This week, making the most of the good weather, the best meals were a light lamb stir-fry with fresh spring veggies, some nutty bread I made for Jon to have burgers in and apple and rhubarb ice-cream! Bonus recipe: Summer Fruit Punch.

Recipe 1. Apple and Rhubarb Ice-Cream.

Ice Cream-Apple And Rhubarb, Peach, Elderberry

Ingredients:

(Makes 1L.)

-500ml double cream

-1 large cooking apple

-1 small sweet apple

-2 cups rhubarb stems

-2 cups sugar

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-large pot and spoon

-heat-resistant and freezer-safe mold

Apple and Rhubarb Ice Cream Recipe2

Recipe:

1: Finely chop the apple flesh, removing the core and stem.

2: Peel the rhubarb.

3: Finely chop the rhubarb, careful to remove the leaves and, where no leaf is visible, the top of the stem.

4: Place in a pot without water at a low heat until they secrete fluid. Turn the heat up to medium.

5: Once the fruit is soft and losing shape, add the sugar. Stir continually from now.

Apple and Rhubarb Ice Cream Recipe

6: Cook until the fruit is a paste like applesauce.

7: Pour the mix into the mold. Add the cream and stir until combined. Freeze.

Recipe 2. Nutty Burger Buns.

Walnut Burger Bun Recipe

Ingredients:

(Makes 4.)

-300g flour and raising agents

-1 cup sunflower seeds, flax seeds and walnuts

-warm water

-1tsp salt

-1tsp pepper

Utensils:

-mixing bowl and spoon

-baking tray

Recipe:

1: Mix the dry ingredients well.

2: Slowly incorporate the water until the mix feels a bit too dry. Look for a single mass with some flour falling off and slight crustiness.

3: Work the dough until it feels smooth and elastic.

4: Form 4 flat, 1″ high discs. Leave to rise on the baking tray.

5: Bake at 140C until they bounce back when you poke them.

6: Turn upside down to cool.

Recipe 3. Spring Lamb Stir-Fry.

Spring Lamb Stir-Fry Recipe

Ingredients:

(Serves 3-5.)

-500g lamb mince

-2 cups cauliflower leaves

-1 yellow or red bell pepper

-400g bean sprouts

-200g cannelini beans

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-frying pan or wok and spatula

Recipe:

1: Pan-fry the lamb until browned. Its own fat should suffice.

2: Chop the peppers and leaves. Add, alongside the bean sprouts.

3: When the leaves start to wilt, add the beans and heat through.

Recipe 4. Summer Fruit Punch.

Ingredients:

-double shot of gin or brandy

-frozen fruit (do not defrost)

-lemonade

Recipe:

1: Place everything in the glass. The lemonade and alcohol will bring out the berry taste and the frozen berries will chill the drink.

2: Enjoy.

And those are our favourite recipes of the week!

What’s been cooking at your place?

WWW. Cheap to Glorious Burgers and Frozen Cakes.

Seeing as Jon’s work is now very different, the Wok will be a little different. Rather than making the nicest, most elaborate or most interesting meal on Wednesday, I will make them as and when he needs them and choose the best food of the week for the Wonderful Wednesday Wok instead.

This week, the main’s some burgers that I made turning cheap, value brand, reduced price beef mince into something with the bite and texture of steak mince and the flavour of a BBQ patty. And the pudding’s an ice-cream cake in a cup I made for Valentine’s day. There were five flavours: pear, blackberry, pear and currant, strawberry and peach. I had the pear and currant one as a carby treat on Valentine’s, but the rest were Jon’s for the week.

The rest of the Valentine's meal.

The rest of the Valentine’s meal.

Cheap to Glorious Burgers.

Ingredients:

-500g cheap mince; ground beef is not suitable, but cheap, unfrozen pork mince or turkey mince would work too

-1 egg

-2tsp herbs

-2tsp onion granules

-2tsp paprika

-2tsp salt

-1tsp pepper

-1tsp soy sauce

-butter or tallow for frying

Utensils:

-mixing bowl and fork

-frying pan

Recipe:

1: With high quality beef you’re told not to overwork the mince or the burger will lose its consistency. With cheap mince you want to do the opposite. Mash it together before adding the spices and the egg. Mash thoroughly until everything is mixed in.

2: Form patties by making a ball, flattening it in the palms of your hands and pinching the middle so it’s got a little “bowl” at either side. This ensures good browning and even cooking.

3: Heat the fat in the pan at medium temperature until all melted. Add the burgers.

4: Cook for 5 minutes either side.

5: Serve with sides of choice. I went for salad, Jon went for beans and cheese.

The burger’s texture is firm and meaty, the taste is subtle, salty and very beefy, the grease levels are minimal and the crust on the outside tastes of soy sauce BBQ.

burgj

burga

Fruity Ice-Cream Cake in a Cup.

Ingredients:

-1 conference pear

-1 peach

-15 blackberries

-8 strawberries

-40g mixed currants

-150ml double cream

-50g 85% chocolate

-80g 55% chocolate

Utensils:

-microwaveable bowl and a fork (not to be put in microwave, obviously)

-chopping board and knife

-mixing bowl and blender / food processor

-jelly molds or other freezable cups/pots

Recipe:

1: Crush the 85% chocolate and share between the bases of the containers.

2: Cut up whatever mix of fruit you like and share between the bases of the containers, leaving room for the chocolate ice cream to drip through.

3: Microwave the cream and 55% chocolate together on medium until they form a smooth chocolate paste.

4: Share the paste between the containers, making sure to get it down into the chocolate later and to cover the fruit. Freeze.

5: Blend the remaining fruit into a smoothie-like paste.

6: Once the chocolate ice cream is frozen, add the fruit paste on top and refreeze.

7: To serve, gently warm the container’s sides only, turn it upside down and squeeze or tap until the cake is released. Leave a little to soften for easy eating.

Pear and currant version.

Pear and currant version.

So those were, in my opinion, the best meals we had this week. What was the best meal you had this week? Recipes, anyone? 🙂

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

WWW. Spicy Pizza. Also, we have a cat.

First of all, warm-blooded-rat-trap update 1: He’s home. Meet Wally/Wallace. He’s not good with adults, children, other cats or dogs. I accidentally scared him because the pheromone spray that’s supposed to be used in the corners of the room to soothe him actually sounds like a cat hissing. It’s taken a day to show him I am not hostile. However, now he’s settled he’s eating, fairly affectionate, not disturbed by my stinking of chickens and coffee and starting to get playful. We ended up with this fiend of a creature because the non stray/feral cats ran away from Jon, while Wallace wanted attention off him. He was also apparently supposed to take weeks to settle, yet 48h in he’s happy to go about his business in front of us and can’t get enough of being patted.

 

However, I did manage to find the time to make a pizza for dinner. There are far too many tarts and with Jon’s birthday coming up, there will soon be crumble and cheesecake, so I opted against making another pudding.

Ingredients for the dough:

-450g self-raising flour

-1tbsp olive oil

-1tbsp paprika

-1tsp ginger

-cold water as needed

Ingredients for the filling:

-300g tomatoes (crushed or paste equivalent)

-100g strong cheddar

-30-50 marjoram leaves

-40g chorizo

-50g ham

Utensils:

-mixing bowl and fork

-greased flat baking tray

-rolling pin

Recipe:

1: Mix the flour, paprika, ginger and olive oil.

2: Add water, continually mixing until the dough is dry to touch but elastic and soft.

3: Roll it out with a rolling pin into the shape you want it, then throw or spin it a little to stretch it fully.

4: Place on the tray and allow to rest.

5: Roll up the crust. You can add a crust filling if you like.

6: Spread the tomato over the centre. Add the marjoram leaves.

7: Grate or slice the cheese and cover the centre.

8: Add the toppings.

9: Bake at 160C for 1h.

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Return and Recipes! [Stew of the week and jam tarts.]

So, with all that has been going on, I’ve hardly had time to think of blogging! The baking, wok and reading continued, but no time to write about it all and I daresay it would be more dull than usual if it were just a basic, typo-riddled recipe every two days.

On the plus side, we’re getting a cat to deal with our variety of garden rodents (mice and rabbits and rats, oh dear!), so I’ll update you on him weekly, starting Thursday after he’s had a day to settle. I’ve also had time to finish a few books, made £250-ish a week instead of the usual £50-100, been doing some painting, had another meatfeast, tidied the garden, etc.

On the minus side, two of the hens fell ill and had to be put to sleep, I apparently can’t drive any vehicles on-road at all (for now) as my attention-span is too short and my attention to details is too broad, so I’m an accident liability and the therapist stressed and confused me so much she made my depression worse, so I’m back to my usual coping mechanisms and almost recovered.

The pluses of the minus side? I can now save my bike-money for babies, am away from that therapist and the other two hens are doing well and getting tubby for Winter.

Everything is looking up again from here and I’ve adjusted enough to my new schedule to reintegrate weight training and blogging.

 

We have also concluded that making one big stew a week out of cheaper ingredients is helpful to the budget, so I’m aiming to make at least one a week. Here’s this week’s:

Stew of the Week: Smoky Hellmince, Carrot and Bacon Surprise.

Accidentally burned the base of this, but once transferred to another pot it actually has a kind of nice smoky flavour.

Ingredients:

-1kg carrots

-400g swede

-300g rice

-600g frozen beef and pork mince

-300g bacon

-300g mixed frozen vegetables

-4tbsp paprika

-2tbsp pepper

-water to cover

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-large pot

Recipe:

1: Wash and chop the carrots and swede.

2: Add all the ingredients to the pot in this order: water, vegetables, meat, rice, seasonings.

3: Boil until cooked-through.

The next recipe is for jam tarts from scratch. We collected so many elderberries and were given a load of plums, so it was definitely worthwhile to make some jam!

Ingredients:

(Makes 24 small tarts and one large flat stripy one.)

-600g fruit

-500g sugar

-500g plain flour

-500g butter

-cold water as needed

Utensils:

-one pot, stirring spoon, jar and funnel for every fruit variety you want to jam separately

-chopping board and knife

-mixing bowl and rolling pin

-24 tarts worth of cookie trays and one large baking tray

Recipe:

1: Boil the kettle and fill the jar with boiling water. Close tightly and put to one side.

2: Wash your fruit. Slice any larger fruit into 2″ segments, leave berries whole.

3: Place the fruit in its pot. You shouldn’t need extra water yet.

4: Heat them through, stirring all the time. They should start bubbling away nicely. DON’T LEAVE THEM FROM THIS POINT. I’ll say when it’s safe to turn your back again! 🙂

5: When the fruit has basically dissolved into lumps of fruit and fruit paste, gradually add the sugar. Keep stirring. The fruit should release more fluid. Now is the time to boil it down until it’s thick.

6: Take it off the heat. It no longer requires 100% of your attention!

7: Check your jar. It should still be so hot you can’t touch it without a glove or teatowel. Pour the water away.

8: Once the fruit is thick but pourable, place the funnel into the jar and spoon it all in. Tighten the lid ASAP and place in the fridge to ensure it seals and is sterile. Check the pop-tab on the lid of the jar once cool. Once it is locked in like they are at the store, your jar is sealed.

9: Mix the flour and butter until crumbs form. Add water until your dough is soft but not sticky.

10: Grease your trays.

11: Use half the dough to line the 24 cookie spots and roll out half to fill the baking tray.

12: Spoon your jam/s into the tart bases. Maybe do something creative with the huge one!

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13: Bake at 170 for 20min for the small tarts and 25 for the huge one.

14: Leave to cool before removing from trays.

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WWW. Chicken and Peas, Home-Made Ice-Cream.

Been a little run down lately and the FF is on hold until my arm is better, so here’s what we had on Wednesday.

Recipe 1: Chicken and Pea Fry.

An excellent way of using leftover chicken and veg or of just putting together a meal when you’re in a rush.

Ingredients:

-4 chicken drumsticks

-300g peas

-300g beans

(can swap peas and beans for legumes of any variety)

-5-6 leaves of lettuce

-4 medium carrots

-2 rashers of bacon

-30g butter

Utensils:

-chopping board and knives

-frying pan

Recipe:

1: Slice the chicken from the bone and roughly cube it.

2: Dice the carrots.

3: Heat the oil in the pan.

4: Seal both sides of each piece of chicken before adding the carrots.

5: Cook the chicken and carrot right down before adding the legumes.

6: Turn the pan to a lower heat. Slice and add the bacon and lettuce.

7: Once the lettuce is wilted, serve.

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Recipes 2 and 3: Strawberry Jam and Ice-Cream.

Jon doesn’t normally like strawberries or anything related to them, but he enjoyed this so that’s a success.

Ingredients:

-400g strawberries

-10tbsp sugar

-300ml double cream

Utensils:

-mixing bowl (microwave safe)

-funnel

-fork

-jam jar

-plastic tupperware (freezer safe)

Recipe:

1: Mash the strawberries.

2: Add the sugar.

3: Microwave until thickened.

4: Pour the excess fluid into tupperware.

5: Use fork and funnel to put the thickened jam into the jar. Secure the lid tightly and place in the fridge.

6: Mix the cream into the strawberry fluid. Freeze.

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