Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Potted Figs, Bullace Jam, Pumpkin Chutney...perpetual preserving

Halved Figs to be macerated in Honey, Lemon and Vanilla.

The Figs have been wondrous this year, and indeed, it seems a pity to cook them at all, when, despite an impoverished summer they are sweet, soft and nearly-not-quite comparable with memories of those bursting, bulbous falling from the trees of the Andalusian countryside.  If your tree hasn't produced same sumptuous crop, do bear in mind, as far as I understand, that Fig Trees like stress and sun.  They are often put in pots or planted in amongst builders' rubble against a South-facing wall to encourage fruiting and ripeness.

But, we are unable to eat them all, and besides piling them into a Tagine, as I did last week, potting is an excellent way of preserving them.  That said, drying now comes to mind.  A solar-dehydrator would do the trick, as would a hot no-too-damp greenhouse, or strung up inside the car.  Whether our Figs are sweet enough to preserve successfully dried, and whether Autumnal Norfolk has enough heat, I don't know. (Do let me know of any of your own experiements...)

Potted Figs.  I posted the recipe here when enjoying last-years potted figs, and simply mention it again as it's the season and I've been taking great pleasure in doing so at the cottage.  On this occasion I replaced the Whisky with Brandy and for lack of Vanilla Pod I used good quality (Nielsen-Massey) Vanilla Extract.

As, it seems to be the season of perpetual preserving, do bear in mind that you can also pot Pears, Peaches, Apples along these lines.  In most cases I would take the precaution of pasteurising as well.  On another note, the tradition of Rumtopf offers a great way of preserving fruits for pudding.


Bullace, Port and Walnut Jam

This recipe was shared by Jules Jackson of De-lish (@dehyphenlish).  It's so good that I was near' pouring scalding hot spoonfuls of the stuff down my throat...only some last hold on reason prevented me.

Place about 2kg of stoned Bullace (Plums, Damsons etc will do equally as well) in a bowl.  Cover with Port and leave to macerate overnight.  The following day bring to the boil.  Take off the heat and add 2kg of Sugar, stirring until dissolved.  Add 400g of Walnuts, halved or quartered as desired.  I also added a good slosh of Balsamic vinegar (red-wine vinegar would do equally) to give the jam a slightly sharp edge.  Bring to heat again and simmer hard until setting-point is reached.  Pot in warmed, sterilised jars.

Despite being called a "Jam", a touch tart, this is really more of a confiture, to be served with savouries, such as Cheeses, Pork and Game.  Mr Jackson resolutely sticks to the term "Jam" merely, I suspect, due to a certain pleasure in the mundanity of the word... Or, indeed, he simply prefers to spick with the Anglicised version. Either way, I am sure this would be quite as dreamy on toast, but, truth told, I'm not really one for spreading jam on toast, and much prefer the savoury combinations...


Pumpkin and Apple Chutney

Again, it seems a pity to put a Pumpkin in chutney as they store so well as they are.  This chutney was really a result of half a Pumpkin sitting around not being eaten and the eternal Apple glut.  I have quite a variety of Apple Chutney recipes up my sleeve, but this is a blend of the quirky and the traditional.

Chop 2 Onions, half a small Pumpkin (Uchiki Kuri), 8 large Apples (peeled, cored), oh, I see, a handful of green tomatoes (optional!),  1 Chilli (more or less depending on heat) into small pieces.  Grate 2 in. Root Ginger.  Put the lot in a pan with 1lt Cider vinegar.  Bring to the boil then take off heat and add 400g Demarara Sugar, 1 tbsp Corinader Seed, 1 tbsp. black Peppercorns, 1tbsp Brown Mustard Seed, a handful yellow Sultanas, a pinch of salt.  Stir and bring once again to the boil.  Simmer gently for several hours, stirring to prevent sticking.  Once the mixture is considerably reduced and of a thick, sludgy consistency which holds a wooden-spoon upright, it is ready to be potted.  Pot in warmed, sterilised jars.
Leave several months to mature before eating.


  1. I have a constant battle with Him indoors about spicing and alcohol in jams. the ghost of his Gran, a GPs housekeeper, fine cook but plain, backs him up,and it's hard to argue with a ghost at the best of times. Wish, wish, wish I had seen the bullace, port and walnut preserve before today, but Will not forget and have bookmarked now.

  2. Oh Joanna! lovely comment... I can quite picture it... all those ghosts we're forever trying to dispute with/release to the past. This is certainly a great jam.


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