Beetroot, Blackberry and Walnut Relish
Apparently nonsensical, it is often colours that define choices of food combinations. Not quite for this reason alone, I decided to give a touch of the wild to a conventional Beetroot Relish, with the addition of Blackberries and Apples. More likely, I based my choice on an only-part-forgotten Beetroot and Blackcurrant Relish espied once in the Riverford Cookbook, but the colour, as well as the gluts of berries nearing their end on plentiful briars outside the house, were certainly influential factors in the concoction of this recipe.
On cooking, my head was chiming with shouts of Chilli! Horseradish! Ginger! But I forestalled such fervour, deciding that the addition of Blackberry was quite quirky enough. Indeed, on bringing a pot to dinner that evening, there was already a raised eyebrow, a giggle, a sneer...
1/2lb Blackberries, 4 medium Beetroot, 1 Apple, 1 Onion, 100ml Apple Juice, 100ml Cider Vinegar, 100ml Balsamic Vinegar, 1tbsp Blackberry Jam (optional), 100g Sugar, Port (optional), handful Walnuts (optional).
Heat half the Blackberries in the Apple Juice, till cooked, strain and keep the juice. Grate the apple into this juice, bring to simmer, stir in Jam, set aside. Heat Vinegars with Sugar and add grated raw Beetroot and chopped Onion, turning so that all the ingredients are covered. Add Apple and Blackberry Juice. Stir. Add slosh of Port rest of Blackberries and Walnuts, simmer a minute longer. Press into hot sterilised jars, seal. Leave for a month (although it is lovely immediately) and serve as a sweet/sharp addition to rich wintry meats.
Unlike the Bullace, Port and Walnut Jam, which is given edge by the tartness of the fruit, this is incredibly sweet. In the future I would indeed add something fiery to lift it. If making this yourself, why not slice in a Chilli with the Onion, or grate in some Horseradish...
Despite my convincing myself this is a Relish, it has turned out not unlike my Beetroot Pickle, I rather thought the Sugar and Jam would make it more of a spread - I understand a Relish to be something between a Pickle and a Chutney. In future to make it more Relish-like I shall try cooking it for longer.
Blackberry and Cinnanmon Whisky
I have had to turn my thoughts from simply: preserving, to: preserving in the most practical manner... So, despite enjoying the flamboyant, the flippant and the fun, I have started questioning what is really necessary. It might seem odd that I am talking about practicality under the seemingly superfluous heading of Blackberry Whisky. But, I am headily conscious of living in a chilly house, am predicting another icy winter, and know well that a nip of something sweet and strong is not only pleasant, but vital on those winter eves...
My recipe went thus: Fill a very large bottle (1.5lt) to a third with Blackberries (about 250g), cover these in Sugar (about 250g), add 1 bottle cheap Whisky (1lt) and a splash of very good single malt. I also added a Cinnamon stick. Shake the lot, and leave in bottle, shaking on occasion, for three months. Strain through muslin, drink when necessary. The addition of the Single Malt ( a tip for any impoverished Whisky-lover) is said, in a mere drop, to transfer the flavour of the malt to the cheaper stuff.
Blackberry and Elderberry Vinegars
Another practicality is how can we make what we tend to buy. So, vinegar-phile that I am, I was delighted when Carl Legge shared Sandor Ellix Katz's recipe for DIY Vinegar. Having a so-far-successful Apple/Crabapple Vinegar on the go, I decided yesterday to try Blackberry Vinegar, Elderberry Vinegar and Quince Vinegar. Rather than using the whole fruits, I have used the Apple and Quince skins and cores, potting and pasteurising the fruits themselves (see pic below).
Briefly: Fill a 2pt Mason Bowl with washed cores and skins of Apples and about 100g of Berries. Cover with 1pt of 10% Sugar Solution at room temperature. Place plate on top to keep fruit under liquid and cover with tea-towel. Leave until starts fermenting, stirring on ocassion if deemed necessary. After about a week of fermentation remove fruit. Continue as before, when convincingly vinegar-like, strain and bottle - there's your Vinegar!
For the Quince, I took the skins and cores of a pile of windfalls, fallen during last week's storms, and did as per Carl's recipe.
Of course, I'm only at stage one, so will relate whether this method is succesful or not once I can confirm. For further information, please refer to Carl's blog and Sandor's website.
Quince in Syrup - Elderberry and Apple Compote