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Thursday, 2 September 2010

Garden Harvest: fruit

Having inherited a garden crammed with fruit trees, I find at the end of every summer I am overwhelmed with the bounty of fruits from plums to figs to pears. Of course I tend to give most of it away as I find I hardly have time to make jams and pies and chutneys. I feel incredibly guilty of course being a self proclaimed domestic goddess, that I have not got row upon row of gleaming jars of apple butter, plum jam, preserved pears and fig and tomato chutneys. However, I like to make a jar or two of jam and five or six pies to tide the household over the winter months.
Plum Jam.. well of course you need plums; about 3 lbs/1.35kg will make 8 half-pound/225g jars. The plums need their stones to be removed, this is boring, bribe a child to do it for you, one that you can trust with a knife. Add the stoned plums to your nice big jam pot and add the same amount of jam sugar. A touch of lime zest and the juice of one lime will make your jam memorable for all the right reasons. Bring slowly to a rolling boil, and let it boil away for at least 30 minutes. This is not the stage in this recipe to go off to inspect your tomatoes or to get on the phone for a marathon chat with a best girlfriend. No, this is the time you stick to the kitchen, wooden spoon in hand, ensuring that your jam does not stick and that you are angelically spooning off the scum that forms on the top. Getting rid of the foamy scum will give you a nice clear luminous jam. After 30 minutes or so, do the jam set test, put a little of your jam on a chilled saucer, place in fridge to cool. If it wrinkles and leaves a clean path when pushed with your finger it is ready. If not, then boil for a while longer. Your jam jars should be sterilising in the warm oven, get them out, pour in your jam.
Apple Crumble is an old family favourite and here is the recipe I use:


For the crumble

For the filling

Preparation method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

2. Place the flour and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Taking a few cubes of butter at a time rub into the flour mixture. Keep rubbing until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Place the fruit in a large bowl and sprinkle over the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir well being careful not to break up the fruit.

4. Butter a 24cm/9in ovenproof dish. Spoon the fruit mixture into the bottom, then sprinkle the crumble mixture on top.

5. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the crumble is browned and the fruit mixture bubbling.

6. Serve with thick cream or custard.

One further recipe using the figs I have in abundance:

Roast figs with honey and yoghurt


· 2 figs

· 2 tbsp honey

· 1 pinch cinnamon

· 50g/1¾oz Greek yoghurt

· 1 orange, segmented

Preparation method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

1. Cut into the figs to make a cross on the top. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with the honey.

2. Place into the preheated oven and cook for five minutes.

3. To serve place the figs on a plate with the Greek yogurt and garnish with the orange segments.

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