Category Archives: preserves

Home alone with Lemons

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I’ve been holed up with a box of lemons – literally. I inherited an entire box when we closed the shop this week because of the coronavirus and have been merrily making my way through it ever since.

I have a big kilner jar of pickled lemons , or should I say pickling lemons as they’re not ready to eat yet. I found the recipe in the Guardian, a lemon pickle to eat with samosas which required 25 birds eye chillies which I just happened to have in my chilli bucket.

IMG_7363We recently harvested the last of our chillies in our tunnel to make room for this years seeds and now we have quite some chillies to make our way through. The pickle sounds exciting  – lemons, chilli, nigella seeds, mustard seeds, oil , vinegar and what sounded like an alarming amount of salt – !00g salt and only 2tbs sugar.

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It has me curious. Anyways it’s going to take two weeks before I can try it so l have to be patient.

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The rest of the lemons, bar a couple held back for the gin and tonics, were finely sliced and left over night in water. I put them into a big pot today, added sugar and cooked them for more than an hour .They made the house smell a lot better than sanitiser!

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Here’s the recipe, scale it back to make less. I think one quarter would make a sensible family amount unless you are marmalade freaks. It  does taste seriously good. Lemony, sweet and sharp at the same time – just as marmalade should taste.

 

Lemon Marmalade

 

25 lemons

3.5 litres water

4kg sugar

about 20 clean jam jars

 

Wash the lemons well and slice very thinly with a sharp knife.

Put the lemon slices in a large bowl and cover with the water and leave overnight.

The next day, put everything into a large saucepan and bring to the boil, then simmer until the lemons are very tender, about one hour.

Put a small plate into the fridge or freezer to chill

Add the sugar to the pot and bring to the boil. Keep the marmalade at a rolling boil for about twenty to thirty minutes. Do not turn to a low simmer as the marmalade needs to reach 104c to set. You need to keep the heat as high as you can without boiling over so stay close by. Fish out any stray pips that float to the surface. To check whether the marmalade is ready to set put a spoonful of onto the chilled plate and leave for a few minutes then gently push your finger sideways on the surface. If the marmalade is ready to set small wrinkles will appear. If this doesn’t happen put another clean plate to chill and boil the marmalade for another five to ten minutes then try again. If it’s ready take the marmalade off the heat and let it rest for ten minutes. This will stop the peel from sinking to the bottom of the jars. Wash the jam jars well and put them in a hot oven for five minutes. This will sterilise the jars and also prevent them from cracking when they are filled with the hot marmalade. Wipe any spilt marmalade from the sides and top of the jars with a clean cloth and cover with clean lids whilst still hot.

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Syros – Herb Central

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Walking around Syros is like tramping through a herb garden. We have been exploring the island, driving to the north of island as far as the road goes and then heading off on foot. It’s not only beautiful but smells delicious too. We’re sure all the goats that graze are self marinating!.

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There are swathes of thyme, rosemary, fennel and sage and carpets of camomile with lots of bees buzzing happily about their business. There are plenty of hives dotted around the countryside and the honey is delicious.

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The paths lead down to hidden beaches, it can a bit of a clamber but the destination makes it worth it.Lots of hidden coves that are deserted and clean blue sea. The sea is cold. Too cold for me to enjoy swimming but I keep trying!

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Capers are growing on the rocks. This is all news to me – I have to admit I had never considered where capers did grow, but there you go – little bushes sprout out of craggy rocks with capers on the end of the branches and very funky flowers. Apparently June is the real caper picking and pickling season but they are beginning now. No wonder so many dishes are served with capers here.

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We had delicious basil and caper pesto the other day, drizzled over goats cheese.
Very simple and very delicious. It’s certainly worth a try and I’d say it’s equally delicious served with fish.
Here’s the recipe

Basil and Caper Pesto

1 cup basil
1 cup parsley
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1tsp Dijon mustard
2dsp capers
approx 150mls olive oil

Put everything except the olive oil into a food processor or blender and buzz to a paste then drizzle in the olive oil. Don’t add salt , the capers are salty enough

Eat with whatever you fancy – cheese, pasta, fish……


Breakfast Gold

Homemade marmalade is so delicious that even though each time I make it I say ‘ never again’ , come the next year somehow I don’t resist the temptation to buy Seville oranges. Especially when they are on special offer. I was passing by Urru in Bandon where, just beside the door, was HALF PRICE Seville oranges. Before I knew what was happening I had bought the lot. Five kilos.

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Each year the epic chore of marmalade production seems to hit some kind of memory lapse. Maybe the hard work  entailed to achieve the result’s a bit like having a baby. The results are so magnificent the human brain conveniently bypasses the agonies involved in bringing this wonder into the world. My daughter says it’s obviously a long time since i had a baby!!

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But I have to say five kilos was bit excessive. I spent two and half hours juicing, scraping out all the pith and pips and then finely slicing the orange peel.

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And I only did half. Two and a half kilos of juiced , pithed and sliced seville orange peel lolling around in my kitchen in a bath of juice and water. The pith and pips have been parcelled up in a piece of muslin and are marinating overnight together withe the peel to encourage the relase of the pectin.

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Fingers crossed tomorrow I just have to hop up, cook the peel then boil the lot up with some sugar to make marmalade.

Meanwhile it’s relaxing on the kitchen counter.

And there are another two and half kiosk looking for attention or a good home!!

 

 


Bottled Sunshine

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Our grandson has discovered the raspberries.He grazes his way around the plants everyday looking for the ripe ones, it’s become part of his daily routine. At least it’s not the birds this year. I enjoy hanging out with him and his enthusiasm is infectious. We usually end up about fifty fifty which means I have a cupful and he has a bellyful.

I’ve been taking my cache down to the kitchen and putting them into bottle of white wine vinegar. At this stage I’ve just about filled bottle no 2 and they look and smell delicious.

It’s the simplest thing to do – just get bottle of white wine vinegar and post the raspberries in, leave to macerate on the windowsill for two weeks giving the bottle the odd shake.

After two weeks strain the vinegar through a sieve lined with muslin or a piece of clean j cloth and bottle up into clean sterilised bottles and you’ll have a supply of bottled sunshine for your winter salads.