Green Fig Preserve

I’m always really excited when I find a fig tree – like something in me forgets that I live in England now, and I’ve yet to pick a ripe fig from a tree – even here in the very South of England.Fig on Cheese

Fortunately a South African friend of mine invited me round to her house last year, and out of her cupboard she brought a jar of green fig preserve, reminding me how, back home, we used to deal with the figs before the birds could get to them.

Fig PreserveThis is one of many recipes – in reading up on it, I realise that it’s also something the Turkish do, so who knows how it made it’s way into the South African diet – to me it’s definitely a South African staple, so here’s the recipe, should you too have access to a big fig tree that never bears fruit. You’ll never look back.

Fig Boiling

Two things: it’s a bit fiddly to get the figs to the point of ready, but well worth the effort. Also, I don’t tend to add the spices in the boil. I add them to jars when they’re ready to be bottled up – this means I might have a fig and cardamom, a fig and cinnamon or a fig and clove, slightly different flavours, which keeps it fun and exciting.

Sometimes the figs we find are really big – too big to fit into gifting or ‘single portion’ (aka, enough for one meal) jars. If that’s the case, halve or quarter the figs before adding them to the sugar syrup. It doesn’t look as pretty in the jar, but in reality, when you pull them out to eat on your crackers you would  rarely eat a whole one on a single cracker anyway.

Green Fig Preserve
 
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Author:
Recipe type: South African
Cuisine: Preserves
Serves: 1kg
Ingredients
  • 1kg unripe figs
  • 1kg sugar
  • 1.250 ml (also 1.25kg!) water
  • Spices (cloves, cinnamon stick or cardamom all work well)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil - just enough to cover the figs. Add the figs and boil for ten minutes. Empty out and refill the pot, bringing the figs to boil and boiling for another ten minutes. This is important, as it's what makes them lose the bitter/unripe taste.
  2. Drain and leave to cool.
  3. Once cool enough to touch, squeeze the figs - there may may be some white liquid that drains out. If there's still a lot of white juice, boil again for ten more minutes, then squeeze again. It seems fiddly, but is well worth it!
  4. In a clean pot, bring the 1.250ml water to boil and add sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the squeezed figs. They will resume their original shape during this process, unless of course, you've cut them.
  5. Add the spices of choice* and boil figs in the sugar syrup for about 25 minutes. Add the lemon juice and boil 5 minutes more.
  6. Pour into sterilised jars, making sure the syrup covers the figs. *I tend to leave out the spices in the previous step and add different spices into the jars at this point so that I have different spice varieties. Close while hot to create a vacuum seal.
  7. Keep in a cool dark place, and transfer to the fridge once opened as it's actually best cold, served with goats cheese and parma ham - or just goats cheese if you're veggie.

 

Strawberries in Cardamom or Vanilla Syrup

Strawberries in syrupWhile I use frozen fruit, it’s not a favourite as I don’t always like the consistency once it defrosts. A great way to save fruit for the winter months is by freezing it though, so rather than just saving as is, I’ve made strawberries to freeze in a syrup, so that when they are defrosted, you have a ready made desert to have on yoghurt, as is, on a cheesecake or on ice cream if you’re so inclined.

Add a flavouring of your choice to infuse for a whole flavour sensation.

You can use them later in the summer on ice cream, or eat them as is. Or save them for the festive season to fill up a glass of fizz – or to bring a sweet pleasant surprise to lemonade in the summer. I’m sure you’ll find a way to enjoy the strawberries in flavoured syrup.

Strawberries in Cardamom or Vanilla Syrup
 
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The amount of strawberries depend on the size of your container and the strawberries themselves. I used two 500ml kilner jars, and didn't overfill them although I could probably have put a few more strawberries in each jar. You need to put enough syrup in that the strawberries are covered. I have chosen cardamom pods and vanilla pods for the two jars, but you can use anything you like - orange peel, liquer, whatever takes your fancy.
Author:
Recipe type: Desert, Snack
Cuisine: Foraged, Make Ahead, Freezer
Serves: 700ml
Ingredients
  • 700g water
  • 140g sugar
  • Flavouring: cardamom/vanilla etc
  • 1 punnet of strawberries
Instructions
In the thermomix
  1. Add the water and sugar
  2. Boil Veroma/Speed 1/ 10 mins
  3. Leave to cool completely
  4. Fill containers with fresh strawberries and pour the cool syrup over it and add the flavours.
  5. Place in the freezer, giving it time to naturally defrost when you want to use it.
Regular cooking
  1. Add the water and sugar
  2. Bring to the boil for 10 mins
  3. Leave to cool completely
  4. Fill containers with fresh strawberries and pour the cool syrup over it and add the flavours.
  5. Place in the freezer, giving it time to naturally defrost when you want to use it.

 

Strawberry Elderflower Jam Recipe

Strawberries in Syrup

Strawberry and Elderflower JamI took the children fruit picking and foraging this week and we had a fantastic haul, certainly more than we could eat, so I made beautiful fresh Strawberry and Elderflower jam. In the Thermomix® it’s such a simple recipe too – no thermometer required. I love this recipe!

 

Strawberry Elderflower Jam Recipe
 
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If you're not using jam sugar you need to cut a grannysmith apple in quarters and add it to the mixtures. I use jamming sugar for this recipe. If you don't use Elderflower, add an extra 10g strawberries
Author:
Recipe type: Jam, Condiments
Cuisine: Foraged
Serves: 400ml
Ingredients
  • 250g jam sugar
  • 440g strawberries
  • 10g Elderflower
  • 2 tbs lemon juice (or ½ fresh lemon juice)
Instructions
In the Thermomix®
  1. Put the jam sugar in the bowl and turbo two or three times to make it finer.
  2. Add the strawberries and elderflowers, if using, and mix Speed 4/10 Seconds
  3. Add the lemon juice.
  4. Boil Veroma/ Spoon Speed/18 Minutes
  5. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

 

Damson Jam / Damson Jelly Recipe

Damson Jam Recipe

Autumn bounty includes Damsons in the UK, and the trees are laden with them. People can’t get rid of them fast enough. The problem with damsons is that unlike, say, blackberries, you can’t eat them raw, so they often go unappreciated till they fall to the ground.

My daughter came home from a walk in the forest with her pockets bulging with damsons, so I decided to turn it into jam, something I’ve never done before.

Damson Jam / Damson Jelly Recipe
 
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Use equal parts of fruit to jam sugar, boil and store. Easy peasy Damson Jam. You can of course buy your Damsons, but half the fun is in the foraging!
Author:
Serves: 200ml
Ingredients
  • 200g Damsons
  • 250g (9oz) Sugar
  • 1 orange, washed
Instructions
  1. Wash damsons and drop them into your pot.
  2. Squeeze the juice of the orange out over it.
  3. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes till the fruit is soft. (20 mins/100C/speed 2).
  4. After 20 minutes, remove from the heat. It's useful at this point to remove all the pips. If you keep the orange in at this point, you'll have a slight marmalade undertone to the damson jam. I'm not a fan of marmalade, so I prefer to remove the orange before adding the jam sugar.
  5. Boil for another 20 minutes at 100C/212F.
  6. Remove from the heat and tip the pot slightly. If the jam looks like it is creating a wrinkle, remove from heat and pour into steriised jars to keep for later, or into a jam jar to start using straight away.
  7. If it doesn't seem to be wrinkly yet, cook for a further five minutes before dispensing into jars. Remember that damsons have a lot of pectin in them and will set as it cools.

 

 

Awesome Autumn Apple Chutney Recipe

Around this time of year, the apple trees are laden with juicy, lovely fruit, just waiting to be picked. A few years ago we lived in a house with a huge apple tree in the centre of the yard, and I learned to make apple-everything! I’ve missed this beautiful apple chutney since then, but where we live now the apple trees line a public walk way, free for anyone with a long enough arm to help themselves.
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I’ve made a few batches of this apple chutney this year – with apples from a friend’s garden, actually – and it gets rave reviews every time. I core the apples too, but don’t peel them. If you do, however, sprinkle the skins with cinnamon and pop them in the dehydrator over night or a low oven for two hours for a lovely apple crispy snack.

Great with cheese and crackers, or mixed in with mince or other cooked meats, this is my favourite home made apple chutney.

Awesome Autumn Apple Chutney
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Chutney, Condiment
Serves: 500ml
Ingredients
  • 5 green apples, cored
  • 3 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 large onions
  • 5g fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 80g raisins
  • 30g orange juice
  • 20g lemon juice
  • 225g soft brown sugar
  • 200g apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Chop the ingredients finely. (Chop lightly in a food processor if you can)
  2. Add the liquids and sugar into a pot and stir till the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Simmer on low heat for 2 hours.
  5. Pour into warm sterilised jars and keep for up to a year.
In the thermomix
  1. Add the apples, tomatoes and onions to the Thermomix® and chop 10 seconds/speed 4
  2. Remove to a large container.
  3. Add the ginger and garlic to the Thermomix® and chop, 5 seconds/speed 8
  4. Add the raisins, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar and cook for 3 minutes/speed 3/ 90C
  5. Add the apple mix back to the Thermomix® with the apple cider vinegar
  6. Cook at Varoma temperature for 40 mins/REVERSE speed 2 without MC.
  7. If it's still too runny, do the same for another 20 minutes. Just keep an eye on it.
  8. When it's finished and looks like chutney, pour into sterilised jars.

 

Blackberry Jam ( Blackberry Jelly)

Blackberry Jam Blackberry JellyIt’s been a beautiful summer, and I’ve focused largely on my children, and very little on anything else, including these pages. I’ve often taken a photo of things, thinking I’d publish them when I have a moment, and that moment has just never come, and here we are, just in time for autumn.

Nature is a beautiful thing though, and knowing full well that the barren months of winter are coming, Autumn blesses us with a bountiful harvest of apples, blackberries, rosehips, damsons and more. My children and I have spent time foraging in our local area, trying to take advantage of the free fruit as much as we can. Over the next few days, I’ll share some of the results of our foraged free food with you.

Today’s recipe is a bit of a cheat: Blackberry Jam. It’s a cheat because I used Jam Sugar with added pectin rather than making my own. We were lucky, I think and got the berries at just the right time, as they were sweet, full of juice and just delicious.

I use a jam strainer to catch all the seeds and skins, leaving me with a beautiful clear jam.

Blackberry Jam
 
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The flavour of this jam depends a lot on the blackberries you use. We picked plump, juicy, ripe blackberries to make a sweet, delicious jam for toast, home made doughnuts and more.
Author:
Recipe type: Condiments
Serves: 250ml
Ingredients
  • 250g (9oz)fresh blackberries
  • 250g (9oz) jam sugar
  • 2tbs lemon juice (if from a bottle)/ juice from ½ lemon if using fresh lemon
Instructions
  1. (If you're using a stove to make jam, you'll need a sugar thermometer to check when your mixture is at 100C/212F. If you're using a breadmachine with a jam function, follow manufacturer instructions. For a Thermomix®, cook at 100 degrees at speed 2. )
  2. Place all ingredients in bowl and cook for 40 minutes at 100C or 212F.
  3. To check whether your jam has set, tilt the bowl slightly, being careful not to spill boiled sugar! Check to see whether a slight gel forms on top. If not, return to heat for five minute intervals. Your external temperature will affect how long your jam has to boil.
  4. It shouldn't take over 50 minutes, but if it does, turn the heat up as high as possible (watching it doesn't burn) for 3 minutes.
  5. Pour jam into sterilised jars and leave overnight to cool.