I know I wasn’t the only one whose routine was thrown out of whack when we had Easter, a few days back at school, then school holidays! We’ve been enjoying some family and friend time 🙂
But school went back a day or two ago, so I’ve got time to get a few things done!
We eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, but eating plans are often thrown awry in the holidays. Last minute decisions to eat with friends or family…you know how it is!
We get a weekly bag of fruit and vegetables, so everything gets topped up regularly and if we fall behind I have to come up with some ideas. Thankfully, all the produce is very fresh and lasts longer than what you may buy at the supermarket. (And if you are a Sydney-sider, I can definitely recommend Harvest Hub!)
So I had some apples, pears and plums to use 🙂
I peeled and roughly chopped the apples and pears, then put them in a large saucepan over a medium heat. All I added was a couple of spoonsful of my sister’s delicious Apricot, Cardamom and Vanilla jam, and a sprinkling of cinnamon. No liquid, and no extra sugar. There’s enough sweetness in the jam, and besides, they’re fruit and have their own sugars and juice. Gently cook them until they are only just soft. I can then use them to make crumble, wrap them in pastry, or just have with yoghurt, ice-cream, or whatever. If I use them for crumble, or wrapped in pastry, they will be cooked again and will become softer, which is why I cooked them just a little.
Then on to the plums, and time for some jam making. Again, I chopped these up roughly, but left the skins on. Usually I would make jam in the microwave, following Annabel’s instructions. But since I had already used a saucepan to cook fruit, I just threw the plums, sugar and lemon juice in there. Simmer it all until the sugar has dissolved, then test it by dropping some on a cold plate. If you can draw a line in the jam with your finger, and the line stays there, then it’s ready. In this case, it took about 10 minutes. I blended it briefly with my stick blender. Generally you would then pour it into sterilised bottles, but I put it into a few small containers. One in the fridge, the rest into the freezer. Since they are only small portions, they will be ok to use up quite quickly.
Look at that gorgeous colour!
If you haven’t tried jam making before you really should! It’s quite easy, and tastes so good! You just need equal amounts (by weight) of fruit and sugar, and a squeeze of lemon juice to help it set. So it’s easy to make even if you only have a small amount of fruit to use. I put in less sugar than fruit and it’s still perfectly good 🙂
The last little bits from the saucepan I added to a glass of water like a cordial. Shhh, don’t tell anyone! A little treat for me 😉 (I added a little extra lemon juice as it was far too sweet on its own.)
And if it doesn’t set properly, use it as a sauce over pudding! Annabel has a great list of ideas on uses for jam. Make sure you read the comments for even more ideas. You don’t have to just spread it on toast!
Of course, all the fruit scraps went to feed the worms. I bet they will enjoy them!
Lastly, I decided to try my hand at drying some herbs. My Thyme was a bit straggly and needed some pruning, and my Oregano was taking over. I know you can just hang up bunches to dry naturally, but mould is a problem in this area, so I wanted to try another quicker way.
I picked my herbs and washed them gently in a bowl of water, being careful not to squash or bruise the leaves. I laid them on a towel to dry, planning on later putting them in a very low oven. But because it was a sunny day, I moved the towel out to a spot in the sunshine. Even though we are into Autumn, we were expecting 25C! They dried very quickly, so I thought I would leave them out to completely dry out. But that would still take at least a couple of days, so I ended up putting them in the oven the following day.
They were almost dry anyway, so with the oven on 80C, they only took 10 minutes before I could crumble the leaves in my fingers. Make sure to put something in the oven door to prop it open a bit for airflow – I used a wooden spoon. When they were cool, the leaves easily separated from the stems, and I tipped them into a glass jar. I didn’t bother separating the thyme and oregano, although I will next time.
I’ve been trying to use things up from the freezer, as it was so full I couldn’t put anything else in it. So now that there is a bit of space, I’ve filled it up again with fruit and jam!
Now my kitchen feels a bit emptier (of fresh fruit), and I have elements ready for some delicious Autumn meals! Now I’m off to make some sausage rolls!
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