Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Harvest, cooking more than sewing!

It is autumn again, and the damsons have been long disposed of- into damson pickles... I made some in 2014, and then, as you do, I forgot about them. Then, this summer I came across them, when I had friends staying for the weekend.
With four years to mature, oh, wow! but they were good. 
So, almost all my damsons that had not been made into jam, went into pickle... If you never made damson pickles, and you have a glut of damsons...

Wash and prick your damsons. A kilo or so... believe me, you cannot have too many pickled damsons!

prepare some sweet spiced vinegar, Why does cider vinegar come in such small bottles?

Ok, 2 bottles of cider vinegar. Do not be over fussy, you could use wine vinegar, and if all else fails use distilled malt vinegar.  These go into your saucepan.

Add around a pound and a half of sugar. Yes, I used common or garden white, but I think brown would add a depth of flavour.
Add some spices.
Maybe, cinnamon , cardamom, star anise,allspice, what is in your cupboard that you love?

and the zest and juice of an orange or a lemon.

Bring that lot to the boil. You can be pricking those damsons while you are bringing that up to boil. Boil it for 5 minutes or so. , and allow to cool a little.
Add the damsons now, and bring back to the boil.

Let them simmer gently for a little to ensure they are tender, and then pack the damsons into sterilised jars, use a slotted spoon, to drain most of the vinegar off.
Now bring that vinegar back to the boil, and boil quite hard to reduce the liquid.
Pour this over your damsons and seal those jars.

Hide them for about 4 years and then they will be glorious!

No, seriously, let them mature for about a month, or two,.

I was told they are good with cheese and cold meats. They are also gorgeous with two or three dropped into greek yogurt, with a drizzle of that vinegar liquor.... ahhhh. Good stuff!

So this year my little pear tree also decided to produce a crop! I got two whole kilos of pears!

So I have also made pear pickles. An adaptation of Delia's recipe...

 11 little jars of pear pickles...

And there is the left over sweet spiced vinegar, which I cannot bring myself to throw away...

I have come to the conclusion that with just two of us at home now, all children having left the nest, small jars are the way to do it. They are big enough for a good taster, but not so big that the stuff goes off before being eaten once opened.
Also a perfect size for mini gifts!

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