Apricot Twist Jam

 Prep Time : 20 Minutes | Cook Time : 30 Minutes | Total Time : 1 hour | Difficulty : Jam

Hello my lovelies! It’s jam season. I won’t shut up about it. Sorry not sorry. Apricot is my all time favourite jam. Today we are putting a zesty citrus twist on it. Sunshine in a jar. Apricots can be very sweet when cooked and need a bit of acid to perk them up. Oranges and lemons will do the trick. It will also help the jam to set because pectin loves acid. Right now fruit markets are full of apricots in NZ. Carefully choose firm ripe fruit that isn’t too hard. I know choosing a good apricot is a bit of a mission. I have a friend who insists that apricots are firmly in the category of better cooked than fresh. On the whole is this is probably true because the chances of getting a delicious fresh apricot can be low even though a good one is simply magnificent. And they’re always good in jam. If your apricots are a bit hard let them ripen for a few days before cooking them. I will have a recipe or two coming your way to help use up some of your jammy bounty so stay tuned. Or you can just make some pikelets… In the meantime let’s get this show on the road.

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Chilli + Lemongrass Jam

 Prep Time : 10 + 10 Minutes | Cook Time : 20 + 30 Minutes | Total Time : 2 hours | Difficulty : Preserves

Hello my lovelies! I love preserving season. I am going mad with all the jams and pickles I want to make. I have already made plum jam with some of my smuggled crop from back home. I’ve made feijoa and ginger with my freezer stash. I’m looking out for good apricots. Watch this space for that one. Right now we are making sweet and savoury crossover joy. Perfect for spreading on our crackers, dabbing on our dinners and gobbling with our cheeses. We are adding ginger and lemongrass to give this sweet, tangy, sticky, spicy chilli jam another layer of flavour. While this is called a jam it is technically a chutney. It’s on the soft spreadable side which we like. Don’t skip the roasting step. It really deepens the flavour of the tomatoes. Use good ripe flavourful tomatoes. I like to use the smaller ones as they roast and caramelise a little faster. Please don’t use low acid tomatoes as it can affect the acid levels and the keeping quality of this jam. Allons-y.

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Brandy + Ginger Christmas Fruit Mince

 Prep Time : 15 Minutes | Cook Time : 20 Minutes | Total Time : 1 hour | Difficulty : Easy

Hello my lovelies! Just one recipe this week while I recover from my germs and catch up on my other jobs. It’s a good one though. At Christmas you are either on team dried fruit or you’re not. I am clearly on team fruit. I do understand that it’s a polarising food group. But I also think a lot of people have been abused by unimaginative, raisin heavy offerings. Today we are going to make a major improvement on the pre-prepared options for making my beloved Christmas mince pies. They’re pretty ubiquitous here and in the UK. It’s a British colony thing. You should get on board America. No real mince to be seen these days. Just dried fruits and lashings of brandy. So long as you have 650 grams of dried fruits altogether feel free to riff as you see fit. But I totally recommend this version with a generous helping of candied ginger and brandy.

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Lemon + Vanilla Marmalade

 Prep Time : 30 + 30 Minutes | Cook Time : 1 1/2 Hours | Total Time : 2 1/2 hours | Difficulty : Jam

Hello my lovelies! Jumping back into it with one for all my lemon loving friends out there. You never see marmalade made with just lemons. We’re totally going to make it a thing. It’s so delicious. It’s much mellower than you would think and the vanilla takes the edge off any bitterness. Choose ripe, unblemished lemons of a thin-skinned variety. We don’t want too much white pith. This marmalade is made in two stages with an overnight soak in the middle. This method gives the absolute best textured marmalade. Allow about 30 minutes the night before to prep the lemons and the rest of the time the next day to boil and jar the marmalade. I used up some amazing lemons from the Hawkes Bay gifted to me by my friend Marie. They were very dark yellow and perfect for imparting lots of lemony flavour. Be patient. The timings are estimates. Look for the signs of doneness at each step before moving on to get the best results.

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Honey, Raspberry + Thyme Gastrique

 Prep Time : 15 Minutes | Cook Time : 15 Minutes | Total Time : 30 Minutes | Difficulty : Easy

Hello my lovelies! Gastrique. Sounds pretentious. But you should totally get in on the action. Quick and simple to prepare. Packed with balanced flavour. Ready for your salad, grilled meats, roasted meats. Your everything. Shake up with a little oil for a salad dressing that packs a punch. Drizzle onto roasted everything. It’s even great on vanilla ice cream. The contrasting flavour notes are fabulous. Gastrique is a vinegar based sauce. I learned about it from one of my favourite books – Beyond Canning by Autumn Giles. I had forgotten about it. I made a lovely plum version probably a year ago. This one is close to the original recipe which is also made with raspberries. I put a twist on it with thyme. Balancing out the fruit with some herbs. Perfect. Just make this up, pop it in a jar in the fridge and use at whim. It will last for ages in the fridge. If you want to make a bigger batch and keep it in the pantry, you will need to sterilise jars and follow proper canning procedures. If you can get it, I highly recommend using part thyme flower honey.

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Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Peppered Pickles..

 Prep Time : 30 Minutes | Cook Time : 10 Minutes | Total Time : 3 hours | Difficulty : Easy

Hello my lovelies! It’s all pickles all the time around here at the moment. It’s a great way to experiment with flavours with very little effort. I love classic cucumber pickles. I am the only one at home who does. It’s okay. I eat enough of them for both of us. This recipe is adapted from one given to me by the lovely Nic Murray. Who is incidentally now my boss. I added chillies. Natch. My first attempt didn’t come out very spicy at all – the pickle juice dulls the heat. So you may need to experiment a couple of times if they don’t come out hot enough for you. Pickles are super easy – just be careful not to shock the jars with major heat changes as they can break. I have only ever had problems with one brand of jar with this but we should be careful always.

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Pickled Ginger. With Chilli.

 Prep Time : 15 + 10 Minutes | Cook Time : 5 Minutes | Total Time : 90 Minutes | Difficulty : Easy

Hello my lovelies! Part two of the back to front week! My brain is back to front this week as well. A mix of information overload and upset routines. But we forge ahead. In style. I have been meaning to make pickled ginger for a while and was prompted to go ahead and do it by a post on Instagram. I got together that recipe and some others and have made my own franken-pickle. Because I am obsessed at the moment I added chilli. It actually rounds out the heat and fruitiness beautifully. Everything is mellowed by the pickling but still has a satisfying bit of burn. This is a super easy quick pickle. It comes together in a flash. Then you have to wait a few days. The extra days are worth it. Be VERY careful slicing with a mandoline. I am living proof that while you will survive and go on to live a full life, you may have a slightly misshapen thumb for a while… Try to use the plumpest freshest ginger possible. The older the ginger the more heat it has and the root can get woody and tough.

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