So, I was thinking to myself, now it is the jamming and preserving end of the year, that a cook can never have too many books on the subject. Not that I am very good at all at following other people’s recipes – but I like to flick through and be inspired by ideas etc, before coming up with my own plans. Anyhow, there I was thinking that there was that new book out from the river cottage people, about preserves and how I wouldn’t mind having it, when a faint glimmer of memory struck me, and there, sitting with a couple of other neglected items (the cheese making kit, and a particular ordnance survey map) to my left, was the book. It’s what is left of my Christmas present stash (the chocolate was not forgotten!!). It’s not that I don’t appreciate my pressies,,, it’s just that I never found the time.. and somehow its August already. Gah!. So, that was a nice surprise and treat. It was flicking through this book that inspired me to pickle the beans, only I used french instead of runners, and garlic instead of allspice… and changed the sugar content.. and only used half the beans.. you see? I’m bad at following other people’s recipes.
It’s a very nice comfortable book, with a nice feel. It doesn’t cover everything, of course, but focuses mostly on preserves made from food that could be grown in the UK, or found in the hedgerows (citrus fruits aside). The title ‘preserves’, to my mind, implies jams and chutneys, but it also covers cordials, vinegars, sauces etc. What it does well, is explain the science behind preserving, and guidance on how to make a chutney or jam with the ingredients you actually have , and it covers bottling, water baths and longevity of the products. I am glad I remembered it!
The page on cordials inspired us to make apple and blackberry cordial, using their proportions guide, and it came out very well, and used up some windfall apples and a couple of boxes of blackberries from the freezer. We toasted our success with a glass of the new cordial, and congratulated ourselves on making freezer space (like we shall be able to get a couple of pigs in there now!)
Apple and Blackberry cordial
1kg apples (windfalls are fine, just cut off the manky bits before weighing)
1 kg blackberries
Chop the apples - no need to peel or core. Put in a large pan with the blackberries and water and cook for 30-45 minutes, until its all mushy.
Strain using a jelly bag overnight.
Measure the resulting juice and add 700g of sugar to each litre of juice.
Bring to the boil just, stirring the sugar to dissolve ( you don’t want to cook this a long time or the pectin present might result in jelly rather than cordial!)
Bottle in sterilised bottles. Keep in the fridge and drink within a couple of weeks, or freeze.