Poached Quince with rosewater & aromatic spices (reduced sugar recipe)

wpid-2015-03-04-06.55.36-1.jpg.jpeg

Today I’ve embarked on a “quince mission”…. I spotted these beauties at the veggie shop and have delved into production kitchen mode, preserving these lovely, fragrant fruits.

I’ve opted to make reduced sugar versions of both poached quinces and paste. In the past I used to make it a lot, usually with the more furry varieties of quince. As you can see from the picture above, my final poached quinces aren’t particularly pink or ‘rosey’ in colour as they should be. I’ve done quite some research about this on the web, trying to determine if indeed, my reduced sugar varieties are to blame for the lack of colour.

IMG_5101

Smooth quince variety

There are 5 factors which are usually discussed when it comes to final quince colour:

  1. Quince variety (perhaps mine below are more of a ‘white’ variety).
  2. Sugar content of the recipe.
  3. Lemon or acidulator added to recipe.
  4. Length of cooking time.
  5. Use of cartouche (baking paper lid directly on the surface of the quinces as they cook)

I found this amazing write up about quince science: for those who have trouble with ‘beige’ quince products…..

http://www.woolfit.com/wordpress/2011/06/13/quince-science/    Or:

https://puttingby.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/quince-jam/#comment-816

Apparently there is a chance my poached quinces will turn pink in the jars with time. Perhaps I did not cook them for long enough or it is because I used the lid of the pot to cover, rather than a cartouche! My paste however is another story; I cooked it for at least 1.5 hours (once it was in paste form) and it didn’t turn pink! Perhaps this is because I only used 1/3 of the weight as sugar (rather than an equal ratio of puree:sugar).

wpid-2015-03-04-07.04.19-1.jpg.jpeg

Regardless of all the quince colour research out there, the quinces were delicious! With less sugar they were still fragrantly sweet, if you’re wanting a healthier version this is a good option!

Poached quince is absolutely delicious with rich salty meats such as pork belly or confit duck or serve on top of yoghurt & muesli for a delicious fruity breakfast.

Recipe:

1 Litre water

150g Sugar

1 Tbsp Rosewater

2 star anise pods

1 cinnamon stick

3 cardamom pods

1 bayleaf

1 lemon, peeled and then sliced, seeds removed (use both peel and slices in the poaching stock)

4 Quinces (approximately 800g weight before peeling)

  1. Place all the ingredients apart from the quinces in a large pot. Heat over medium-high heat to bring to the boil.
  2. While the sugar stock is heating, prepare the quinces. Top and tail the fruit and use a speed peeler or sharp knife to peel off the skin.
  3. Cut each quince through the core into quarters. Remove the core with a sharp paring knife, being careful not to cut yourself as the flesh is very hard. At this point you can decide if you want to keep the quince in larger pieces (such as the quarters you now have) or you can choose to cut each quarter lengthwise again for smaller segments (8ths)
  4. Once you have prepared the quince, plunge into the sugar stock.
  5. Cover with a lid (containeing a steam vent) and reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer. The slower you can poach your quinces, the faster you will achieve a pinky colour. They will however get pinker as they are stored.
  6. Cook quinces until tender: approximately 20-30 minutes for eighths and 45-60 minutes for quarters. Test using a sharp knife to determine if they are ready.
  7. Bottle in sterilised jars or store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Raw red cabbage sauerkraut with ginger, caraway & fennel

wpid-img_20150210_164051.jpg

Wow! I’m amazed by how delicious homemade sauerkraut is! I thought that perhaps the fermentation process would be a little off-putting, and I’m glad that many people are actually starting to embrace this way of preserving now. A wee word of warning though: If you’re suffering from Irritable bowel, cabbage is high in FODMAPs, therefore it is not advised if you are struggling to control your symptoms!

If you’re like me, you buy a whole cabbage for a super-cheap price, use half and then more than often it ends up getting slightly wilty hanging around the veggie draw in the fridge. After a while when you have that ‘lightbulb’ moment one evening to make a ‘scraps from the fridge’ quiche or stirfry, that cabbage finally gets another chance!

wpid-2015-02-25-15.53.33.jpg.jpeg

I’ve decided that its worthwhile getting involved with the hefty cabbage. Its pretty delicious steamed in blocks with a few juniper berries and herbs in the steaming water, then drizzled with a nice olive oil or butter and sprinkled with a touch of salt & pepper. Equally delicious is raw cabbage wedges, dipped into wasabi or miso mayonnaise. Or massage whole leaves with a little salt to soften, rinse & use to make healthy wraps full with veges and all sorts of goodies.  Getting hungry now!

Anyhoo, I thought I’d share this nice sauerkraut recipe. I love making my own because it is more crunchy than canned varieties. You can leave it to ferment for as little as 3 days, and as long as 2 weeks. It really depends on how much sour flavour you like. Pair it with a nice German sausage in a hot dog or with some potatoes tossed in herbs. For the less-fermented kraut, this is superb in salads to lend a bit of crunch and amazing colour & flavour.

kraut production (2)

Ingredients:

1 head red cabbage

2 tsp sea salt (not iodised)

2 tsp caraway seeds

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 cm knob fresh ginger, finely grated

Method:

  1. Shred the cabbage as thinly as possible. The thinner you slice it, the softer it will become when massaged with the salt. Place the cabbage in a large bowl or pot (as photo above)
  2. Add the salt and massage into the cabbage for about 10 minutes using clean hands so that the salt crystals begin to dissolve.
  3. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes, then return & continue to massage until the mixture becomes nice and juicy. Depending on how big the salt crystals are, you may need to massage & rest the mixture several times. You want it to be nice and juicy to allow the cabbage to soften.
  4. Add the caraway & fennel seeds. Combine well. (Ginger gets added at step 10 as it can prevent/delay the fermentation process)
  5. Prepare a clean, large glass jar (I used a large gherkin jar) by boiling water and filling to the brim. Leave to stand until the water cools back to a warm temperature and then tip out. This acts to sterilise the jar from any nasty bacteria that may have been present.
  6. Pack the sauerkraut & liquid into the jar, pressing down firmly so that the liquid brims to the surface.
  7. Next, you need to prepare a weight for the top of the kraut, to ensure it is packed down firmly and the liquid can cover the kraut for the fermentation process to be even. I chose a small jar or sealable bag which fits in the opening of the large jar. Fill with water to act as a weight. Sit on top of the sauerkraut and seal around any opening with plastic wrap or a bag to keep fruit flies out!
  8. Place the jar on a windowsill or space in your house out of direct sunlight. It does not necessarily need to be in the dark.
  9. Allow to ferment for 3-15 days. After 3 days you will be able to smell the souring aroma. How far you ferment is up to you!
  10. When you’ve fermented the kraut enough, stir through the grated ginger and pack into smaller jars and pop into the fridge. It will keep for months! (If you don’t end up devouring it all before that 😉 )

Spicy Black Doris plum & ginger chutney

image

I’ve had to get a little more creative this year as I’m struggling to get through the amount of plums laden on our trees this summer. There is only so much jam you can make (and give away)! To be honest, I usually prefer something savoury: a bit of bite, a kick of passion and a little bit of something to tickle those taste buds…. And of course, if it goes with cheese….. well that’s just perfect isn’t it?!

image

Black Doris plums are black to dark purple in colour, firmly fleshed and their flavour is broodingly intense and sweet compared to other varieties of plum. They make the best jam, and (hopefully) the best chutney…..but if you have another plum at hand, go for it. If you want to achieve a little more depth of colour and flavour, you could also try adding 1-2 tablespoons of pure tamarind concentrate (the deseeded variety).

Spicy Black Doris & ginger chutney (makes 6 – 7 x 500ml jars, depending on consistency)

Ingredients:
2kg Black Doris plums, washed
6 small or 4 medium red onions, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
50g knob of ginger, peeled (with a spoon is easiest)
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 Cups sultanas
1.5 – 2 Cups soft brown sugar
125ml spiced vinegar
125ml cider vinegar
3 heaped tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
Cracked black pepper to taste

Method
1. Begin by removing the pits from the plums. The fastest way is to cut down the side of the pit, slicing wedges of flesh off the pit as you go. From each plum, you should get 5 – 6 pieces. Set aside.
2. Warm a large pot over a low to medium heat (without oil) and saute the onions with the garlic and ginger until softened.
3. Add the plum segments, cinnamon stick, chilli flakes & sultanas.
4. Continue to cook the chutney until the plums are softened and the sultanas look plump.
5. Next, combine the brown sugar, vinegars, curry powder & ground coriander in a bowl. Add to the pot with the plums.
6. Cook the chutney until the plums start to fall apart and the liquid looks syrupy in consistency. Season with salt and cracked pepper.

To test if the chutney is at the required consistency, ladle a teaspoon of mixture onto a saucer and allow to cool. If the chutney is a watery consistency you may need to continue to cook the mixture further and evaporate extra liquid. If it is nice and syrupy with a gooey spreading consistency and a rich bold flavour, you are ready to start bottling!

image

To bottle the chutney, make sure you have sterilised jars with well fitting lids.
An easy way to sterilise jars is to boil a large pot of water and immerse the jars and lids in it for about 5 minutes (making sure you fill the jars with the boiling water). Remove jars with clean tongs, ensuring you do not touch the inside. Watch that you do not burn yourself. Drain of water and fill right to the top with the hot chutney using a sterilised ladle. Seal with the clean lid. The jars will make a popping noise when the seal is officially formed. Label and date.