test kitchen: persimmon

persimmon (fuyu)_003I’ve had a bowl of unripe fuyu persimmons keeping m company in The Lab for weeks now, picked by Ollie when he was out filling buckets (and buckets!) with quince. They’re gorgeous to look at piled in a purple bowl but what to do with them… eat a few when they ripen, scooping out the silky-slimy flesh with a spoon; toss a few that start oozing; try a chutney recipe; yes, that all sort of works. But my real love is jam so today, with nothing urgent pending, is a day to play with persimmon. And straight up, this is not going to be a sellable jam – it’s messy, fiddly prep. Yanking out the caps then squashing or pulling or chopping or scraping the fruit depending on the ripeness. Then there’s this funny papery peel the really ripe ones develop. Puts me in mind of mushrooms which is never a good thing.  Weighed, my bowl of persimmon comes in at 1 and a bit kilos, calling for 2 3/4 cups sugar although I might add more later. Zest of 1 and juice of 2 Tahitian limes. 1/2 tsp of cracked pepper for contrast – colour, texture and taste. 1/2 a vanilla bean split and scraped because this is JAM (even if unofficial) and vanilla bean is default. So the jam is macerating… I can wander round chanting ‘fuyu… fuyu persimmon’… feels good!


Lime Marmalade

Do I really owe the pesky possums a debt of gratitude? Looking at 8 jars of Lime Marmalade lined up on the kitchen’s granite countertop, I think I must. I really did not expect a good set across 8 jars; 7 yes, 6 absolutely, but there was wrinkling on the back of the spoon and in the pan so I switched off the light and left the 8 to rest overnight.

This morning: perfect set.

Has to be because I picked the limes while they were still quite hard in order to save them from the furry marauders who ninja-d through the wire cage enclosing the two Tahitian limes and a lemon tree. The fruits have yellowed a bit while I waited for the pallet of jars to arrive from Portugal (and that’s another post) but they’re still firm and the pectin must be high. So guess what I’m making today?

Yes, 3 or 4 more batches of Lime Marmalade … not treats for possums, though. I’m not quite that grateful.

love the shiny things

Watching Series 6 of Hustle the other night and almost missed a bit due to the nicely shaped jar of red berry jam in the background of the breakfast scene. How sad is that? There’s sadder yet: I recognized the damn thing! Label is creamy white with black accents, features a Victorian/Edwardian femme with a bicycle of some sort, brand starts with a B… but I couldn’t see the details and most jars around here have the labels soaked off. That nice shape, naturally I’d have recycled the jar. I did. It’s partially full of pickled quince chunks and is in the fridge. Even better, it has the original lid identifying it as Mrs Bridges stock.
I may be becoming a little obsessive.

chill out

Still exploring the apple theme for the hilbarn cocktail jams … this month, take a big box of mixed apples, a bag of bright Amigo Jalepeno chillies, some apple cider vinegar, the best water, a lot of sugar and even more patience to make many jars of Chilli Jelly.
Can patience be an ingredient?
Oh yes.
‘Do not squeeze the jelly bag’ should be painted on my kitchen wall as it’s hard to resist when the apple stock must be left to drain for about 8 hours to release as much pectin rich juice as possible. Squeezing would definitely speed up the process but at the cost of a cloudy jelly. Oh no! So I have to walk away to resist the temptation. While away (sipping tea on the veranda, tapping away at the keyboard, reading another Elizabeth Peters, plotting what to do with a box of bananas, talking to the dog) I’m also thinking happy thoughts about those plump red chillies. They could quite easily have been small, bright, orange habeneros!

feed me 52 ways

Ta-dah! My copy of Food52: Volume 2 has finally landed in the letterbox and it is so nice to hold, to flip the pages and reach for a bookmark… and another…. and oh, yes, I definitely want to try making that.

The one teeny tiny drawback is some of the odd measurements: converting ounces and pounds I’m pretty good at now but ‘sticks of butter’ requires Google to the rescue.

stoke the fire

Winter Solstice is almost here and I’ll certainly be mulling wine atop the wood heater. But why wait? At the moment I have the beginnings of Triple Lemon Marmalade simmering there, with another pot of oranges softening up, and once the beetroot have boiled for a minute or so on the gas I’ll move that pot to the fire as well. Makes perfect sense, plus perfumes the house. The trick though is getting the right mix of wood. Wattle is key. It burns hot, often too hot for long-term cast-iron health, so some regnum, possibly peppermint or anything else from the woodpile plus a few bits of judicious wattle keeps us all simmering along nicely on these brrrr June days.