Cucumber Relish

Cucumber Relish

Cucumbers are still being produced virtually daily from the three Diva plants in the polytunnel, and this slightly spicy relish puts them to good use. Whoever would have thought we would still be harvesting cucumbers into October?

What you need: (This quantity filled four 400ml jars, only three are in the picture)

7 cucumbers - mine were 8ins long - thinly sliced. 
3 medium sized onions - peeled and thinly sliced inot half rings
2 large red peppers, seeds and pith removed and cut into thin strips
3 tbsp salt
600 ml white wine vinegar
450g white granulated sugar
1 level tsp ground turmeric
8 cloves, finely ground
2 tbsp mustard seed, either black or yellow

What to do: 

1. Put the cucumber, onion and peppers in a large bowl and mix in the salt. Leave overnight.

2. Prepare your jars and keep them warm 

3. Rinse the vegetables in several changes of water to remove most of the salt and leave to drain

4. Put the vinegar, sugar and spices in a pan and warm to dissolve the sugar

5. Add the sliced vegetables, bring to the boil and boil for 1 minute. Take off the heat

6. Using a slotted spoon, pack the vegetables into the warmed jars

7. Reduce the liquid in the pan on ahigh heat for 10 minutes, carefully pour this hot liquid into the jars using a funnel, and put on the lids

This keep well in a cool dark place, lasting for at least six months. The relish is a great accompaniment to burgers in buns, cheese and biscuits or cold meats. A nice reminder of Summer in the depths of Winter really

Fruity Chutney

Fruity Chutney

After a week away I came home to a surprising number of ripe tomatoes, a courgette plant that had decided it was time to produce more fruit, and a lot more windfall apples. This mirrored what we had in the fridge already, so this recipe handily made use of the fridge fruits, making space for the freshly picked ones to be stored for a couple of days. I used a combination of some of my favourite spices, but you can change these or leave out anything you are not keen on of course

What you need: (These quantities made just over 750ml)

500g chopped up tomatoes, large white inner pieces removed

500g sliced and cut up courgette

200g peeled apples, cut into 0.5cm cubes

200g sultanas

350ml white wine vinegar

250g sugar (I used half white and half soft brown, as that was what I had in the cupboard)

4tbsp black or yellow mustard seeds

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

5cm piece of ginger, grated 

12 whole cloves

12 green cardamom pods

1tsp fennel seeds

2tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg

What to do:

1. Sort out your jars and sterilise these. Keep them warm

2. Using a mortar and pestle, grind all the dry spices, removing the pods of the cardamoms to only leave the seeds in the mix. Aim for a coarse powder

3. Put all the ingredients, incuding the ground spices in your preserving pan and heat gently, stirring from time to time to ensure the sugar is fully dissolved

4. Now use enough heat for a steady simmer, and cook until the chutney is thick and unctuous, and there is no "loose" vinegar evident when you make a channel across the mixture to expose the bottom of the pan. This took 40 minutes, but it could take longer depending on how juicy your fruit and vegetables are. 

5. Pour into warm jars, wipe the edges of the tops and put on the sterile lids

This needs to sit for 2 to 3 weeks to mature and will easily keep in a cool dark place for about  a year. There was a little bit that I couldn't sqqueeze into the jars, and it did taste rather good. I am looking forward to eating this with cheese and biscuits, in sandwiches with cold meat and stirred into stews too. 

 

Fermented Cauliflower Pickle on Day 1

Fermented Cauliflower Pickle

This is the first time I have attempted any sort of fermented pickle. After reading round and round I settled on a slight adaptation to a recipe from Cultures for Health. One issue I already have is being able to keep the pickle jars warm enough (60- 70 degC is the recommendation). They are currently sitting on the lid of the fish tank, where there are small but satisfying bubbles now visible

I am using two kilner jars with new seals, but it all you have is screw top jars that is fine (see instruction No 6)

What you need:

Cauliflower, broken into small florets. I measured the amount by what would fit in the two jars I had, and it was one medium sized head. Also keep some of the smaller leaves, as these are useful for keeping the florets under the surface of the brine

2 red peppers, seeds and membrane removed and cut into squares a little smaller than a centimetre Optional really but I thought they would look good with the cauliflower

500 ml water

3tbsp sea salt or kosher salt

4 heads of garlic, peeled and crushed

4tbs yellow mustard seed

½tsp chilli powder or dried flakes

4 tsp ground cumin seeds

2 tsp ground coriander seeds

½tsp ground turmeric

What to do:

1. Once you have measured the volume of cauliflower needed, put this is in a bowl with the peppers. Wash and sterilise your jars

2. Pour the water into a pan, add the salt and heat, stirring until the salt dissolves. Allow this brine to cool to room temperature

3. Divide the spices and garlic equally between the jars

4. Pack the cauliflowers and peppers tightly into the jars, then pour in the brine, leaving a 2cm space at the top. You may not need all of it

5. Use the leaves you saved to tuck in over and down the sides of the cauliflower, to ensure the vegetables stay submerged. Dry the edges of the jar and close

6. Stand the jars on a tray in case of spillage. Keep in a warm place to allow fermentation to begin. You will need to "burp" the jars every day to allow the built up carbon dioxide to escape, by slightly opening the lid. Don't be put off by the cabbagey smell when you open the jar

7. Now this is the imprecise part: warm fermentation needs to continue for between 2 and 6 weesk, to allow the required flavour to develop. I shall try mine after two weeks, and then every week until I like the flavour. The cauliflower will become more yellow as the turmeric circulates

8. When the flavour reaches a spiciness you like, firmly close the lid and move the jars to the fridge. (I have been told that the flavour can continue to develop even in the cold)

And as I am only on Day 3, that is all I can tell you: I shall update when I move the jars to the fridge

 

 

Hot Chilli Jam

CoolHot Chilli Jam

This recipe was adapted from one of Dave Dakin's, so thank you to him, although whether he intended it should be quite so volcanic I am not too sure. If you would like a milder version, substitute less hot chillies, such as cayenne, or reduce the number included to your taste. It is quite a flexible recipe really, and is a beautiful colour in the jar.

Words of warning though, if you do use hot chillies: be careful not to get juice in your eyes, wear gloves to prepare them and when washing the pan, add hot water slowly or the sudden release of chilli oil into the air can be breathtaking, quite literally!

These quantities made 1700 ml of jam. Sterilise the jars in advance, keep them hot, and ensure the lids are ready to sterilise with boiling water just before they are needed

What you need:

8 large red peppers, seeds and pith removed, roughly cut up

10 ripe red, hot chillies, such as serrano, ideally ones that are a bit fleshy, seeds and pith removed ( see warning above) and roughly cut

8 large red tomatoes, roughly cut up, no need to skin or de-seed them

4 ins piece of ginger, grated 

8 garlic cloves, skinned and finely chopped

450 ml white wine vinegar

700 g white granulated sugar

What to do: (see note above about jars)

1. Using a food processor, in several batches, finely chop the peppers, chillies and tomatoes. Add some of the vinegar to make the mixture more fluid if needed.

2. Put the mixture in a large preserving pan, ideally non-stick, with any remaining vinegar, the ginger, garlic and sugar. Heat gently, stirring to dissolve the sugar

3. Bring to a rolling boil and continue to cook until it is thick and is almost ready to set (I cool some on a saucer from the freezer and if it wrinkles a tiny bit when pushed it is ready) You do not want it too thick so slightly runny is good. 

4. Take off the heat (This is the point when you should sterilise the jar lids) leave for three minutes, stir and then pour into jars. Screw lids on immediately, using a cloth to hold the jars to avoid burning your hand

5. This stores for several months in a cool dark place... approach with caution if you have used chillies with a lot of bite!

The jam is good as an "on the side" chutney with biryani, or to accompany cheese, cold meat etc. 

Apple & Mint Jelly

Apple & Mint Jelly

This is excellent with lamb, or in a cheese sandwich come to that! It makes good use of those windfall or maggoty apples, and the last big harvest of mint from our plot this year. It is one of those recipes that start with very vague quantities but later on you can see how the balance works out, to arrive at a reasonably savoury jelly.

What you need:

Apples. Any that are damaged and need to be used up, or perfect fruits. Cooking apples, eating apples, a mix of apples, anything except crab apples as these are best kept for their own special scented jelly.

Sugar - a pound for every pint of apple juice you make. White sugar gives the best result imho as it does not detract from the flavour of the mint

MInt - a double handful of a bunch, plus a third of a cupful of finely chopped mint per pint of juice

White wine vinegar (or cider vinegar) - a half cupful for every pint of juice

What to do:

1. Wash the apples and cut out any rotten, bruised or maggoty bits. Do not peel them or remove the cores (Unless they are rotten) as this makes sure there is plenty of pectin to set the jelly. Chop them into small pieces or blitz in a food processor until around a centimetre or so in size.

2. Put in your preserving pan with enough water to come about half way up the apples in the pan. If you put in more it does not matter, it just means a longer boiling time at the end. Add the big bunch of mint.

3. Cook for about 20 minutes until the apple is very soft and the contents of the pan looks like mush with mint stems in it.

4. Tip this mush and stems into a jelly bag and leave to drip over a large bowl for about three hours. Do not squeeze the bag if you want the jelly to be clear.

5. Put a saucer or small plate into the freezer to use when you test the jelly for a set later. Make sure you have sterile jars warming, and pour bioling water onto the lids in a small bowl.

6. Measure the juice before pouring it back into the (washed) preserving pan, with the measured amount of sugar and the vinegar.

7. Bring to the boil, and boil for around 25 -30 minutes, skimming off any scum resulting from the waxes in the skin of the apples

8. Test for a set with a teaspoonful of juice on the cold saucer. If this does not wrinkle when pushed as it cools, boil for a further three minutes. Repeat every three minutes until setting point is reached

9. Take the pan off the heat and cool for 5 minutes before stirring in the chopped mint

10. Stir again and pour into jars, putting on the sterile lids immediately

The colour of the apple juice varies according to the apples used. Last year's batch was very pale, translucent pink, made from Greensleeves apples, but this year I used all Bramley's Seedlings and the resultant juice was a much more robust colour. It also tastes less sweet than last year's as the apples themselves have less sugar in them. If you find yours too sweet for your personal preference, add a little more vinegar before the setting point is reached

Cherry tomatoes in olive oil

Another tomato recipe! This one makes a change  from chutney or sauces and again, uses a nice lot of tomatoes if you need to reduce your personal tomato mountain. You can also make a smaller quantity perfectly well of course!

 

 Oven- baked cherry tomatoes in olive oil

This quantity makes two 350ml jarsful.

 

 

 

 What you need:

1.5 kg of cherry tomatoes (I used a mix of colours, and supplemented it with a few medium sized tomatoes cut in half)

2 cups of olive oil (Use one you like the flavour of)

6 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly

½ cup of chopped herbs of your choice (I have made three batches and used rosemary, thyme and oregano - not all at the same time)

salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

What to do:

1. Line a large oven tray with foil, turn on the oven (100 °C) and make sure your jars are sterlised and kept warm

2. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl with the garlic and herbs

3. Pour in the olive oil and mix gently with your hands, making sure all the tomatoes are covered

4. Tip the tomatoes onto the tray and spread them out evenly

5. Sprinkle with salt -sea salt is nice - and pepper to taste

6. Put the tray in the oven and cook for around 2 hours, mixing them around carefully a couple of times 

7. When the tomatoes are shrunken and slightly dark around the edges, they are done. The time this takes depends on the juiciness of your tomatoes. The first batch took 2hrs 15mins but the second was ready after 1hr 45mins.

8. Taken the tray out of the oven and remove as much of the garlic as you can - this does not always preserve well and might affect the tomatoes.

9. Carefully transfer the tomatoes into the warmed jars. Use a bamboo skewer to ensure there are no trapped airbubbles.

10. There will probably be enough oil to completely cover the tomatoes. but if not, top the level up with more olive oil

11. Put on the lids.

Opinions vary as to how long this stores for. In a cool place it should last at least three months and I would actually be expecting six. Keep the oil topped up to cover the tomatoes if any are sticking up after you take some out.If you keep the jar in the fridge, the olive oil may solidify. Don't worry, it will be fine as it warms up again, it is perfectly normal.

The totmatoes  are delicious spread on hot toasted bread, added to a home made pizza topping, as an addition to pasta sauce, sliced into a salad, or as a side dish with a barbecue. I am sure you will think of plenty more ways to use them.

 

 

"Cook-in" tomato sauce

Recipes that use up a lot of tomatoes in one go are very appealing at this time in the year, as we often have a huge glut. Here are two that use up 2kg each, one old favourite and one which is new to me:  "Cook-in" Sauce and Tomato Ketchup

Tomato "Cook-in" Sauce

There are lots of "cook-in" sauces available commercially, and their list of ingredients is many and varied, not always something I would necessarily want to eat. The convenience of being able to open a jar of sauce, add it to some meat, fish, lentils or other vegetables and quickly have a tasty meal is very tempting, so I tried to come up with a home made version... and this it it! I make several batches each year with different flavourings, to see us the year round. We don't have enough freezer space for this amount of tomatoes, so these jars of sauce enable us to preserve our bounteous harvest in a practical way, with a method used for many years before refrigeration was an option.

The basic recipe can be varied to suit your personal taste by adding spices or herbs, or leaving it plain to be added to when you use it. There is one vital criteria however: you must have at least 7 cups of tomato to no more than 4 cups of the other vegetable ingredients to ensure the balance of acidity allows the sauce to be kept safely without danger of botulism.

Read through the whole recipe before you start to ensure you will have the equipment you need to hand for waterbathing the finished sauce.

What you need:

2kg of large tomatoes (at least 7 cups when processed, usually 8 or 9)

1½ cups of chopped onion

5 cloves of garlic, chopped

2½ -3 cups of other vegetables, measured after chopped - courgettes, runner beans, coriander leaves, carrot, beetroot, green or red peppers etc. (Not potato) I put them in the food processor so that the pieces are very small and almost unidentifiable as individual pieces when cooked

1tps salt

2tsp sugar

1 cup of white wine vinegar

3tbp sunflower oil

spices or herbs to taste - just think of the number of jars you will be making and what quantity you would use for that volume. In this batch I used 5 heaped tsp each of black mustard seeds,  ground cumin and ground coriander, 5tsp grated fresh ginger, 3tsp ground turmeric and 5 large red chillies, which were chopped with the onions and garlic.

What to do:

1. Sort out your jars and lids and sterilise them - this quantity makes between 2.5 & 3l of sauce, depending on how much your veg cooks down...coriander cooks down far more than runner beans for example. I find 350ml jars a useful size.

2. Finely chop the onions, garlic, and chillies if using, and put in the preserving pan with the oil. Cook until onion is soft

3. Add spices if using, including the ginger and fry until seeds are popping and there is no raw smell of spices (not dried or fresh herbs at this point)

4. While the onion is cooking, skin the tomatoes and remove the cores ( I slit the skins and pour boiling water over them, leave for 10 minutes and then, wearing gloves, pull off the skins and squidge out the cores, directly over the food processor bowl. The gloves save my hands from turning orange, especially if I am making two batches!)

5. Put the tomatoes in a food processor and blend until well chopped (You can also chop them by hand of course) and then add them to the pan.

6 Finely chop any other vegetables and add to the pan, together with all remaining ingredients (Add herbs at this point if using)

7. Now bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, without a lid on the pan.

8. Warm the jars, sterilise the lids and get the waterbath ready - part-fill a large pan with boiling water. You will need a trivet in the bottom to stand the jars on, so that the glass is not in direct contact with the metal pan.

9. Adjust the seasoning to your taste, with a little more salt or sugar, or more vinegar if too sweet

10. Pour the sauce into jars and put on lids immediately. Do not overtighten the lids though as air must be able to escape when the jars are in the waterbath. Fill the kettle and boil.

11. Now carefully stand the jars on the trivet in the waterbath. Use an oven mitt to protect your hands as the jars and the water are both hot!

12. Pour in boiling water from the kettle so that the water is up to the top of the sides of the bottles. (Some recipes tell you to submerge the jars completely but my pan is not quite deep enough for that, and it has always worked fine with slightly less depth)

13. Keep the water at a high simmer for 20 minutes and then carefully lift out the jars. Tighten the lids slightly, and leave to cool. If you have pop-in centres to the lids, you will hear them pop down as the sauce cools.

This sauce keep safely for over a year in a cool, dark place. We find it especially enjoyable in the long dark days of winter when there is little variety in fresh crops: a lovely reminder of early Autumn flavours!

Tomato Ketchup

 

Tomato Ketchup

This is the healthiest, tastiest version of tomato ketchup I have ever had, and you may well think the same! This is the first year I have made it, and it is so good I have already made a second batch. 2kg of tomatoes are needed for 500ml of sauce, so it certainly made a dent in the tomato mountain in our kitchen right now!

The original recipe was published in Delicious magazine

 

 

 

 

 

What you need:

2kg tomatoes - big, fat red ones are best

2 chopped onions -- a good way to use up some that are not suitable for long term storage

2 chopped garlic cloves

150 ml red or white wine vinegar

100 ml water

2 bay leaves

6 allspice berries (or two heaped tsp of ground allspice)

6 black peppercorns

4 cloves

1 blade of mace

1 - 1½ tbsp light brown sugar

What to do:

1. Roughly chop the tomatoes and put in a large preserving pan with the onions and 50 ml of the vinegar and the water, bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes

2. Put the remaining vinegar in a small saucepan, with the spices and 1tbsp of the sugar, bring to the boil, then leave to infuse. If you are using ground allspice, add it to the tomato mix, not the vinegar

3. Once the tomato mix is cooked, leave it to cool so that you can work with it without burning yourself

4. In a food processor or using a stick blender, reduce the tomato mix to a pulp. Rub this pulp through a fine sieve using a wooden spoon (Took me about 10 minutes)

5. Put the sieved pulp back into the washed preserving pan. Take out the whole spices from the vinegar and pour this in with the tomatoes

6. Cook down gently, until there is about 500ml left. If you can draw a wooden spoon across the bottom and it does not fill back in with sauce, it is thick enough

7. Taste, and add more sugar if required.

8. Using a funnel, pour into a sterilised bottle and screw on the top immmediately.

The sauce will keep for at least six months in a cool dark place, and I suspect much longer. However, once it is opne, keep it in the fridge. I shall be looking for some smaller bottles to divide the next batch into two