Tag Archives: preserves

Make your own marmalade

20150106_170946 (1)A calming January marmalade-making session is a good antidote to the mayhem of Christmas and New Year. Put the radio on, get peeling, slicing and simmering, and fill your house with the distinctive bittersweet aroma.

We buy our Seville oranges from Ave Maria Farm in Mairena del Alcor near Seville, which is run by Amadora and her two daughters. They produce wonderfully gnarly, knobbly, thick-skinned fruit with the incredible aroma and unusually high pectin content that make them so valued. There have been orange groves on their 60 hectare farm since 1867 and they were the first orange farm to be awarded organic status in Andalucia. Riverford founder Guy Watson visited them in 2011 and was hugely impressed by the crops and wildlife on the farm, not to mention the energy and orange-devotion of Amadora and her family!


Seville Orange Marmalade Recipe
We’ve won awards for our marmalade, which is made to this recipe. You could substitute in a few of our glorious blood oranges to get a rich, caramel-coloured preserve or use our incredibly perfumed bergamot lemons to really crank up the aromatics.

Guy’s tips:

  • Make sure the pan is big enough – if it is too full it will boil over and all that sugar will be a nightmare to clean off your cooker
  • When you are dissolving the sugar, don’t heat it too vigorously as it will catch on the bottom and you will end up with burnt marmalade – not tasty.
  • Don’t boil it too for long; if you go past the setting point you will end up with jars of concrete!
  • Skim off any scum before potting up to get a clearer set.
  • Let the marmalade stand for 15 mins before jarring – this will stop the fruit from settling at the bottom of the jar.

makes 6 jars, prep 30 mins, cook 3 hrs

1.5kg seville oranges
2 lemons
2.5l cold water
approx 2kg granulated sugar
a large pan
muslin
string
sterilised jars
screw top lids or wax discs
cellophane covers
elastic bands

 

  1. With a sharp knife, peel the skin from the oranges and lemons, leaving as much white pith on the fruit as possible. Chop the peel into 3mm strips and put in a large pan.
  2. Line a large bowl with a piece of muslin, leaving plenty to overhang the sides of the bowl. Cut the oranges and lemons in half. With your hands, squeeze the juice from the fruit over the bowl, dropping the leftover squeezed fruit (pith, pips and flesh) into the muslin.
  3. Lift the muslin out of the bowl, gather the sides and squeeze any remaining juice into the bowl. Tie the muslin together with string to keep the fruit in and form a bag.
  4. Place the muslin bag in the saucepan with the peel. Add the squeezed fruit juice and 2.5 litres cold water to the pan.
  5. Heat until boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours, until the peel is tender. Put a few saucers in the fridge to chill.
  6. Remove the muslin bag and squeeze all the sticky juice from the bag into the pan. (An easy way to do this is to put the bag in a colander and use a spoon to press it out).
  7. Measure the contents of the pan in a jug (include the shreds and liquid). Return to the pan and add 450g sugar for every 500ml liquid.
  8. Gently heat for 15 minutes, until the sugar crystals have dissolved. Increase the heat and boil rapidly for 15 minutes.
  9. Test that the marmalade has reached setting point by putting a teaspoon of the liquid on a cold saucer and gently pushing with the back of the spoon. If the liquid starts to wrinkle, setting point has been reached. If no wrinkling happens, keep boiling and re-test every 10 minutes. Turn off the heat as soon as you reach setting point.
  10. Skim any scum from the surface. Leave the mixture to stand for 15 minutes. Stir gently, then carefully spoon into warmed sterilised jars (use a jam funnel if you have one). If using screw top lids, put the lids on while the marmalade is still hot and turn upside down for 5 minutes to sterilise the lids (or boil the lids for a few minutes and leave to dry before use). If using cellophane, put a wax disc on the marmalade while warm, then seal with cellophane and an elastic band.

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guy’s newsletter: british edamame beans & squirreling inclinations

Reportedly Victoria Beckham puts her svelte figure down to a diet of frozen grapes, steamed fish, raw vegetables and edamame beans. For several years these immature soya beans have been dubbed a ‘superfood’ and are the snack of choice for urban, barfly hipsters while they wait for their sushi and discuss their omega 3 to 6 balance. Who knows what inspired John Walter Symons, a cider-making veg grower and one of our founder farming co-op members to sow a field of edamame on his Devon farm this year. Most of our crops are meticulously planned before the seed is even bought, but the first we heard of this was when a few bean-laden plants appeared on my desk last week. Always up for a challenge, I spent the evening researching and cooking, and they got a firm thumbs up from all, so John’s fresh edamame beans (most are sold frozen) will be on our extras list for the next couple of weeks at £2.75 for 200g, including a recipe. They are best lightly boiled, salted and eaten out of their pods as a snack; no-one will get me eating frozen grapes or claiming superfood status for anything, but they must be better for you than a pork scratching.

Meanwhile we’ve had a wonderful growing year and as the days draw in, contemplating winter’s approach with a shelf laden with your own preserves is hard to beat. We’ve a good range of kits to make this even easier, so for those of you with squirrel tendencies, this is the time to get your preserving pan out.

Guy Watson

plan your pickling

Our preserving kits will soon have your shelves heaving with flavourful additions to your cooking and snacking.chilli-drying-kit

choose from:

  • cucumber pickle preserve kit (a Watson favourite)
  • red onion & raisin chutney kit
  • green tomato chutney kit
  • pickled jalapeño chilli kit
  • chilli drying kit

 

The joy of tunnels

For years we agonised over whether the benefits of tunnels (earliness, quality and cropping reliability) justified the eyesore. Last year we took the plunge and covered three acres of our best land with polytunnels, doubling our area of protected cropping. Despite the lack of sunshine, these three acres have been the most prosperous on the farm this year, providing good harvests of winter salads, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and peppers.

We are now harvesting the last of the sakura, sassari and cheramy cherry tomatoes and should be picking these for another week. Unfortunately we’ve had to abadon the larger dometica and mecano tomatoes which have now lost their sweetness and are showing ghost spotting due to low levels of botrytis.

There is always a lot of green fruit which will not ripen by the end of the season. This will be picked and made into chutney by my brother Ben (sold in our farm shop), or perhaps by you. From today, green tomato chutney kits are available to order, complete with a recipe and ingredients, www.riverford.co.uk/chutneykit. There is nothing like a well stocked preserve shelf; it makes me feel ready for winter and prepared for any forgotten presents.

As the cucumbers and tomatoes are cleared we are cultivating and replanting the tunnels with rocket, mizuna, claytonia, baby leaf lettuce and chard, for harvest through the winter. Outside, most of the autumn and winter crops have established well and in the dryer east are going into autumn as we would like. In the wetter west we continue to suffer from a combination of low light levels and leaching carrying soluble nutrients beyond the reach of our crops roots, but we stay optimistic.

Guy Watson

pumpkin day – free family day out
Saturday 20th October Mole End Farm, Kent
Saturday 27th October Upper Norton Farm, Hampshire; Sacrewell Farm, Cambridgeshire; Wash Farm, Devon
Sunday 28th October Home Farm, Yorkshire

Anna’s preserving blog – now is the time for chutney

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It’s remarkably satisfying to capture the season’s fruits and vegetables in jars. And it makes sense to use up what’s growing now while it’s plentiful and at its best. In winter I’d much rather cook with a jar of the tomato passata I made in summer than buy tasteless, pallid specimens grown in gas-guzzling hothouses. Who wants strawberries at Christmas? Not me. But some fruity jam on my morning toast – yes please.

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Now is the best time of year for making chutney, whether you’re using up the windfalls from the garden or trying out Riverford’s new green tomato chutney kit – a genius solution for the end of the crop that missed out on the summer sun. Squash also makes a delicious chutney, especially when combined with pears and dates, so I intend to snap up one of Riverford’s squash boxes before they go. Chutneys can be made with all manner of fruits and vegetables and usually also contain onions, cooking apples, dried fruit and spices. Follow a trusted recipe to get an idea for the quantities of sugar and vinegar in relation to fruit and veg, as these are essential for preserving the chutney.

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For the best flavour, use whole spices tied up in a muslin bag and submerged in the chutney as it cooks. You can yank it out when the mix tastes spicy enough. Peppercorns, cloves, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, orange zest, fresh ginger and mace all work well. Chutneys benefit from long, slow cooking in a heavy-based pot. It’s ready when a wooden spoon dragged across the bottom momentarily reveals a streak of pan. Chutneys also taste better given time, so try to resist the urge to eat them immediately. After a few months the flavours will have magically combined and deepened.

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One of my earliest culinary memories is of raiding trees and hedges on my street for crab apples, rosehips, hawthorn berries, rowans, elderberries and blackberries and cooking them up together to see what I could make. I must have been about 7, and it must have been about this time of year. Recently I’ve been making lots more hedgerow jelly, which I now do in classes for those keen to master the craft. It’s deep purple, full of flavour and tastes fantastic with roast lamb, venison or duck, or cheese.

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It’s easy too: Roughly chop 1kg of Riverford’s cooking apples (skin, cores and all), place in a big pot with 1kg of berries and barely cover with water. Cover and boil for an hour until the fruits burst, then strain through a jelly bag. Heat the resulting juice in a large pan, add 1lb granulated sugar for every pint of juice, stir gently to dissolve and then boil to setting point.

See my preserving guidelines for reaching setting point and filling sterilised jars. And don’t pick any berries you can’t identify!

Whether you’re an experienced or novice preserver, please let me know how it goes, ask me any questions and share your own tips by commenting on this blog below, writing on our Facebook page or sending a tweet to @Riverford with the hashtag #cooksquestion.

Riverford pickles + preserve blog from Anna Colquhoun

My name is Anna and I am a preserver.  Yes, it is an addiction, a bug which I hope you catch too.  If you do, you’ll understand why my shelves are five-deep with jars of translucent orange, yellow and purple jellies, assorted jams and pickles, maturing chutneys, berry vinegars, cordials, bottled stone fruits and slabs of quince ‘cheese’.  Through this blog and our new preserving kits we hope to inspire you to get preserving too.

Our first kit is the famous Watson cucumber pickle – something of a family heirloom.  Get it here, complete with everything you need including step-by-step instructions.  If you’re from America you might know it as ‘bread and butter pickles’.  Whatever you call it, it’s important to salt the veg first to draw out excess water which would otherwise dilute the vinegar.  Look out for the green tomato chutney kit next month, and check out my preserving guidance notes for the do’s and don’ts of sterilising and sealing jars and more.

A bit about me – I trained as a chef in San Francisco and now teach cooking classes and run a supper club in London, under the name Culinary Anthropologist.  I love making things from scratch – be it bread, pasta, ham or jam – and investigating the origins of ingredients and dishes and their journeys across the globe.  I’ve been a Riverford customer for years and I’m also part of the network of Riverford Cooks.  You’ll find us dotted across the country, running cooking classes, demonstrations, supper clubs and more.

Over the coming months I’ll be sharing some of my preserving tips and recipes and answering your queries.  If you’ve ever pondered turning your hand to preserving, now is the time.  Plums can be relied upon to make a delicious jam which sets easily.  Almost anything can be thrown into a slow-cooked chutney as long as there is enough vinegar and sugar to preserve it.  And now is the perfect time for piccalilli, one of my favourites.

Whether you’re an experienced or novice preserver, please let me know how it goes, ask me any questions and share your own tips by commenting on this blog below, writing on our Facebook page or sending a tweet to @Riverford with the hashtag #cooksquestion.  I do hope you catch my bug….