Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Peach and Apple Jam

Divine Homemade Peach and Apple Jam

With summer warmth comes the arrival of apples.  I always thought apples were a cold climate fruit as Tasmania is called 'The Apple Isle' and apple trees are not prevalent in the mid north coast of New South Wales. 
MOH (My Other Half) protected the green Granny Smith and the dwarf Pinkabelle tree from invading apple eaters.  Late last year we were so excited to see the Royal Gala and Golden Dorset apple trees growing side by side bloom firstly with gorgeous pink/white blossoms which were then replaced with small apples that slowly but surely grew to be gorgeous, edible apples.

These apples were close to being harvested in late November when we went away for a few days.
On our return we were devastated to see the apples had been seriously culled, some hanging half eaten off the trees.  Thinking they were birds, MOH netted the tree and that evening, just after dark, you could hear creatures settling on the tree and getting trapped in the net.  They were flying foxes!  Much like a bat, there were 5 flying foxes caught in the net and the night was still young.  Needless to say it was not easy disentangling these hapless creatures and we realised we would not be eating any of those apples.

Thus when the other two apple trees, the Granny Smith and Pinkabelle (which is basically a dwarf Pink Lady tree) were slowly ripening, MOH constructed a PVC plastic pipe structure and netted it on the sides so it could be moved from one fruit laden tree to another.  Very creative and we managed to harvest 6kg of apples which was brilliant considering the trees have been in the ground 1 -2 years and this was their first fruiting.

We have had apple pie, apple danish, apple crumble, bakewell tart, apple sauce, and fresh apples but there was still some remaining so my thoughts turned to jam.

I had previously made fig and apple jam at Christmas so this time decided on purchasing some beautifully big, juicy yellow peaches to combine with the apples.

Firstly I measured 1.8kg green apples, washed them which was probably not necessary as using the clever apple slinky the apples are simultaneously cored and peeled in one movement.  I know there were no pesticides used in the manufacture of these apples, but washing fruit is purely a learned habit.  Then they were chopped to a small 'suitable for jam' size.

The gorgeous peaches were plunged into boiling water for one minute then refreshed in cold water to enable the skins to be peeled easily.   Then the peach stones were removed but reserved for special use.


The peaches were similarly chopped to the same size as the apples.

The chopped apples were simmered alone initially prior to adding the chopped peaches and lemon juice.

I placed the apple cores and peach stones into a square of muslin, then tied the ends together and hung this into the chopped apples.  There is pectin in the cores/seeds which helps the jam to 'set'.

Removing the muslin bag before adding the sugar.

Simmering away with the sugar added to the jam.  After the sugar is dissolved, don't stir the jam again.

Peach and Apple Jam Recipe

1.8 kg fresh green apples, cored, peeled and finely chopped
10 large peaches, skinned and stone removed
250ml water (1 cup)
250ml lemon juice
1.2kg sugar, approximately
muslin to store the apple cores and peach stones in during cooking.

Place chopped apples and water in a large saucepan, bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and allow the tied muslin bag with the apple cores and peach seeds to nestle in the fruit, then simmer covered for 10 minutes. Add the chopped peaches and lemon juice, then simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until the fruit is soft.    Remove the muslin bag, squeeze to remove any liquid and discard.
At this stage it is suggested by many jam makers, including my mother, that you measure the jam and add 3/4 cup of sugar for each full cup of jam.    I find this an unnecessary step and as we don't like our jam too sweet I added 1.2kg white sugar which was just perfect.  Sugar can be added to taste.
Boil uncovered for a further 10 minutes, do not stir after the sugar has dissolved.  Jam is ready when a little placed on a saucer that has been in the freezer 'sets', that is, forms wrinkles when pushed with your finger.
Pour hot jam into hot sterilised jars and seal while hot.

This jam will last for a long time, about two years, but I suspect strongly that the family will eat all the jars before we can do a time test.
Buon appetito!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Anniversary Cake and Cupcakes

Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary to Moyna and Gordon.

 It was my parents 50th wedding anniversary on 30 March 2013.
It is an amazing accomplishment and one which must be sincerely congratulated.

Here are the accompanying celebratory cupcakes.

Here is the happy couple pictured on the left.

The lady in the middle is my Aunt Dawn, who created this amazing anniversary cake;
with Uncle Terry seated to her left.  I wanted to record her creativity and huge ability.
Cake decorating is inspiring and time consuming.
What a wonderful family day was shared by all.

Home made Sriracha

Stunning Sriracha made at home

Fermented Chilli Paste  

Sriracha is a very versatile, long lasting, hot and delicious fermented chilli paste.  
During the warmer months we have an abundance of chillies and after chilli jam, bottled whole chillies, dried hanging chillies and simply frozen chillies are processed, there is still an abundance of these gorgeous, fiery red chillies.

After reading The Hungry Tigress  http://hungrytigress.com/2012/10/fermented-sriracha/  post on Sriracha (pronunced 'see-ray-shah') I was inspired to make some of this delicious fermented chilli paste.
I weighed 650grams of freshly picked hot chillies for this recipe then washed and dried them.

After cutting off the stem and removing any soft chillies, I put them in the blender to chop them.

When they were processed finely, I added three cloves of minced fresh garlic and 2 tablespoons fine sea salt.

This is how they look at the start of the process.
Cover with plastic film, leave at room temperature and stir once or twice each day for 5 - 7 days.

After two days, they look a little more dull.

After four days, they appear less shiny.

At the end of seven days, at approximately 27 degrees Celcius each day, the Sriracha looks like this :-
and has a slightly sour smell.

At this time place the chillies into a sieve and extract as much liquid as possible from them by pushing down on the chillies to remove the juices that have been extracted.

 Then place chillies into a food processor with 1/4 cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of caster sugar.

Process until a paste forms and store in a sterilised jar in the refrigerator.
This paste will last for months and is useful for many purposes.  

Add Sriracha to mayonnaise for a tasty condiment.  
Use alone with barbecued grilled meats for a hot flavour burst.  
Mix a little with scrambled eggs before cooking.  
Use in marinades for chicken with soy sauce, garlic, shao hsing wine and sugar.
Mix with butter and freeze in a log shape to offer with grilled steaks.
Add to fried rice.
Use in place of sambal oelek in recipes.

The uses of Siracha are endless and you will appreciate a jar, or two of this in your kitchen, and at work, as well as in your mother's kitchen for when you are visiting.