Christmas present making is underway and I am determined to actually make all teacher, neighbour, postman, market providore gifts this year. The postman has been delivering a few more Thermomixes to my door in the last couple of months and he deserves something for having to put up with me answering the door in pjs and bed hair. The apple man at Kelvin Grove Markets regularly gives me a bag of slightly scarred fruit for free, so it is only fair he gets a jar of that produce back in return.
I have posted a winter fruit jam – perfectly timed for school fetes – with Pear and Ginger Jam. Now for your summer fruit jam recipe. Peaches are a great fruit to jam with because they are often found squishy in your fruit bowl or at least a few battered ones at the bottom of the bag when you get home from the store/market. Nothing better to do with squishy fruit than turn it into jam. This jam also makes your house smell wonderful while cooking it. And if you steam the fruit first as per instructions below to make removing the skin easy you end up with a rosy coloured water that is perfect for making Turkish delight without having to use food colouring. See further posts once I perfect my jelly setting techniques for this one.
Take a kilo of peaches. Any kind you like. If you have a lovely fruit providore relieve them of peaches that have scars or are slightly bruised and won’t sell. You are likely to get these either free or much cheaper than your perfectly formed, photogenic fruit. Cut a cross in the bottom of each peach and fit into the steamer basket and Varoma. Pour water to 1Litre mark (halfway up) in Thermomix bowl. Insert steamer basket, lid and put Varoma in place. Select Varoma heat, 20 minutes, speed 2. Check peaches to see if skins can be easily peeled off. If peaches still too firm cook for a further 5-10 minutes.
Allow the peaches to cool a little so you can peel them without burning your fingertips. Pour out the water from the bowl – keeping it if you plan to make jelly with the peach hued liquid. Peel peaches and remove the stones. Set peach flesh aside. Peel the zest from two limes. Quarter a granny smith apple, leaving core in. Place zest and apple in Thermomix and blitz for 10 seconds on Speed 9. Scrape down sides and check if its all chopped finely enough. If not, blitz again.
Press scales button and weigh in peach flesh. Juice zested limes and add juice to Thermomix bowl. Match the total weight of peaches and juice with raw sugar. I ended up with around 600g peach flesh and lime juice and so added 600g raw sugar to the bowl. Put the lid on and select Varoma heat, 25 minutes, speed 2. Put as many jars as can fit in Varoma and put on top. This way you can sterilise and heat your jars while you make your jam. Put a saucer in the fridge so you can test the setting of your jam.
Cooking time will depend on how much water is in the fruit, which varies from fruit to fruit. Once the timer finishes, open the lid and spoon a little onto the cold saucer to see if it sets or runs around. This is a good opportunity to taste test as well. For my last batch I needed to put it back on to cook for a further 10 minutes until it was at a setting stage. This gives you extra time to steam some more jars. Once it is setting on the cold saucer decant the jam into your sterilised, warm jars. I find doing this over a tea towel helps with cleanup.
Just a note – if you find the jam is too chunky, resist the urge to blend it after cooking. This will cloud your jam. It will still taste the same, just won’t look as nice. I speak from experience. Now, just to see who the cloudy jam will go to. Might be a good test to see which members of my family read my blog.
After my earlier attempt at jam (see Plum Sauce I & II) I decided to have another crack. In order to motivate myself, I put my hand up for the jam stall at the school fete. Also, the P&C chair is a lovely woman and she put in a late tuckshop order for me. So I owed her. I’m new to the school and you never know how the P&C is going to work. I figure most people work on a mob-like favour system, hopefully with less violence and horse heads. I want the neighbourhood to know I know how to return a favour.
Jam is not something I would have bothered with before Thermomix. It sounded like something that you need to clear the kitchen for, get in heavy equipment and risk burns and ruining a large pot of something just because you forgot it was on.
There are some excellent jam recipes in the Everyday Cookbook. I plan to make the citrus marmalade and the strawberry jam, but first I wanted to try something more my Grandma’s style. She is a ginger fan. Ginger wine (by the thimble, she doesn’t want to get silly), crystallized ginger and, when the local markets are on, ginger jam. This keenness on ginger is interesting because aside from this she has a rather bland palate. Forget spices, salt and pepper are exotic and unnecessary in her meals. Her tea is taken with a mere wave of a teabag over some hot water, with very weak powdered milk added. On a night out at the club she will occasionally order a shandy with strict instructions for only 1 finger of beer, with the rest of the glass filled with lemonade. I like my shandies the other way around.
I found a pear and ginger jam recipe here, which suits because I needed something to bulk out the more expensive ginger and pears were a pretty good price from the apple man at the Kelvin Grove Markets. He sells produce from the orchards around Stanthorpe. Mainly apples, but also whatever else is dropping from the trees at any particular time of the year. I have bought quinces from him (short season this year – too much rain to keep them from rotting), huge Golden Queen peaches and every variety of apple you can think of. He had some called Champagne Apples, which I had to buy. They look very interesting and I am mulling over how to use them.
So with piles of fruit around me I peeled and cored a kilo of pears and half a kilo of pink lady apples. Keep the apple peel and core to add pectin to the jam. Peel 125g ginger and cut into chunks. To chop the ginger finely I put it in the Thermomix first and blitzed at Speed 7 for 3 seconds. Scrape and blitz again if not fine enough for you. Add the rest of the prepped fruit and chop at Speed 5 for 3 or 4 seconds. Check if the right texture for your liking. If you like it extra chunky maybe even just Turbo it a couple of times. Add juice of two lemons, reserving the seeds to add to the apple offcuts.
Add 800-1000g sugar. I didn’t want it too sweet, so I stopped at 800, but the original recipe said 1kg. It will take it right up to the maximum level in the jug, but it cooks down, so I didn’t get overflow during the cooking. Mix it all up on Speed 5 for 2 seconds.
I tied the apple peel, core and lemon seeds into a clean chux cloth and rested it on top of the fruit and sugar. You could also blend the peel and core (but not seeds – will add bitterness) all first up with the ginger so they are very fine and incorporate them in the jam mixture. I didn’t think of that until now, so went with the bouquet garni style. According to the lady I buy milk from you could also just stick a whole apple in the mix as it cooks and pull the core out at the end, the rest will have cooked down with the rest of the fruit and sugar. If you use the chux method just remember to check now and then that the bundle hasn’t become caught up in the blades. It is not a chux jam we are making. I found it stayed on top quite well and cut down splatter through the lid. Close lid, cook for 20 minutes at 100 degrees, speed 1. If you have blitzed apple peel, core and lemon seeds with the ginger you can increase speed to 2 as no issues with getting anything caught up. Put a clean saucer in the fridge.
After 20 minutes check jam is setting by spooning small amount onto the cold saucer. If its ready it will set in 30 seconds and be jelly like instead of runny. If still runny cook again in 5 minute increments until you are happy with it. This recipe filled 5 of my jam jars which I figure is the biggest yield possible, given we started out with a maximum capacity amount in the jug.
Sure. It doesn’t sound like the most exciting soup. Or vegetable. But whiz it up with some potato to thicken, perhaps some truffle oil if you are being fancy (I just happen to have some in the pantry at all times), sprinkle with cracked black pepper, fresh parsley and some crisped pancetta chips (bacon will do) and you have yourself a high end meal. Even for those ‘soup is not a meal’ folk out there, pair this soup with some gruyere on toast melted in the grill and it will be hard to argue that all the food groups are not getting fair representation.
Having a Thermomix has made me enjoy making soup in a way I have never before. I have dabbled with soups in the past. They have never met my standards. The cooking of the vegetables then transferring to a food processor was the kind of hassle that loses that therapeutic feeling most cooking gives me. Or the draining of a giant stockpot into a colander over a bowl in the sink. I’m not very coordinated so many times hot liquid was splashed about causing not only interesting shaped burns but also a mess that made me regret embarking on the whole process in the first place. Also I have a talent for always choosing a container that is too small for whatever I am trying to pour into it. I don’t know why. But I do it every time.
However, forgive my bias, the Thermomix has changed things. Soups are a breeze, a joy. Just chop onion and garlic in the bowl. Add around 20g oil and saute on 100 degrees for 2-3 minutes on speed 1. Fill the basket with your vegetables of choice (in this case mostly cauliflower, plus about 2 peeled potatoes cut in half). Pour 1 litre of water plus 3 tablespoons of your concentrated vegetable stock (or if you want to keep the soup a whiter colour use 1 litre of chicken stock, which you have of course made previously in the Thermomix) into the bowl. Place the vegetable laden basket inside the bowl and cook for 15 minutes at 100 degrees on Speed 1. Test that the veggies are soft. If not, cook for a further 5 minutes. Add a good splash of truffle oil at this stage, maybe some cumin if you feel like another layer of flavour. Then blend it to a smooth puree (with the MC on) on Speed 9 for 1 minute. Decorate as described above for maximum wow.
The Everyday Cookbook has another version. Recipe Community has a Neil Perry conversion as well which sounds extremely tasty. Of course it has more cream and such. Thermomix recipes are there for the experimenting. Its so easy to do. You’ve just got to try it.
I was very happy to see a big box of quinces at a reasonable per kilo price at our local market recently. It meant I had an excuse to try out making quince paste!
They are a less than appealing looking fruit and the preparation methods you generally find for them don’t help their cause. But if Maggie Beer can do it so can I. For I have the added super power of a super kitchen tool.
I followed the best bits of a few recipes and hints I found from Thermomixer, Tick of Yum and Recipe Community, which were variations of recipes from the beautiful (but not yet mine) Thermomix recipe books In the Mix and Devil of a Cookbook. Keeping the peel and core in the process, but separating them from the flesh while cooking made it really easy to follow and the paste set beautifully. So much so that I allowed it to cool a little too long and then had a lovely set jelly in the processing bowl which I then had to lever out and squish in to molds. Just over a kilo of quinces makes a shed load of quince paste. I am now in search of a gigantic wheel of stinky cheese to eat with it.
This is just a small part of the quince paste produced in my inaugural batch. You will note that the result is not quite as neat as Maggie’s. Next time I won’t get distracted once I’ve finished cooking it. Apparently it keeps for an age as long as you take the least precautions against the extreme wildlife or weather that are an everyday part of living in Queensland. As with everything I am making for the first time the use by dates are an experiment in mould identification and the sniff it and see test.