Sep 21, 2013

I've been having fun putting food in jars

Forget sewing, I think I've found myself a new and delicious hobby. Stuffing yummy things into jars and boiling them for 10 minutes!

Yesterday I made more strawberry jam (as it's the last of our local strawberries) and just because the pot of water was still hot I decided to try out some Pickled Asparagus, with only two bunches of asparagus. I'm hoping these will taste great as they are very simple to make and asparagus will be pretty cheap in the next few weeks.

Today I made fruit chutney.

I used this recipe but changed the plums to apples and pears, and for the dried fruit I used a mix of dates, sultanas, prunes and cranberries. It is delicious! I actually made some a few weeks ago (just after my first jam success) and it's nearly all gone. This time I doubled the quantities. The house smells like barbeque sauce as it's cooking (I think you could actually water it down a bit and purée it and it would pass as barbeque sauce).

Both the recipes that I used above are written by Marisa McClellan, who has a fantastic blog called Food in Jars. She creates recipes that may only make 2-4 small jars of food, so you don't need to spend all day cooking or need to spend a lot of money on produce (or need a big area to store it all). I'm so excited by her recipes that I've ordered her book and am impatiently waiting for it to arrive!

As you can see from the photo above, I've been making a few small batches over the last few weeks:  Strawberry and blueberry jam (the best!), strawberry and apple jam (with less sugar) and just plain strawberry with grated orange and lemon peel. I think I now have enough strawberry products to last us until next year!

In other fun food news, I also made some Chai Tea/Milk Flavouring out of condensed milk.

It's just a can of condensed milk (I used the skim stuff) with a couple of teaspoons of ground cinnamon, some freshly grated nutmeg and ground cardamom (maybe three quarters of a teaspoon of each) and about a quarter of a teaspoon of ground cloves. Mix it up and store in the fridge.

I didn't have any pre-ground cardamom or cloves so I bashed them in a mortar and pestle. It's unfortunately a little chunky, so I'll definitely use pre-ground spices next time. To use it, just add two teaspoons to a cup of black tea (I also add a splash of milk too) and drink it up. Just don't drink the very last bit if you grind your own spices as it kind of makes your mouth numb...

The kids love it in warm or cold milk too. I shake it up in a unused jar and they drink it with a straw!

And with my flat-leaf parsley about to run up to seed, I quickly harvested a gigantic bunch, gave them a good wash, picked out three small caterpillars, spun it dry (the old fashion way - crazy spinning arm holding a bundled up tea towel outside), chopped it coarsely (just the way I like it), packaged into zip lock bags and placed it lovingly into the freezer with a big smile. There it will sit until I need a bit of parsley for some pasta sauce, and it's long gone from the garden (and it's overpriced at the shops).

Parsley freezes really well (and stays green), and if you don't chop it too finely (as it extracts too much liquid) it freezes all loose and not in a giant hard clump, making very easy to use in cooking.

I'm just hoping I got all the caterpillars out of there first!