Friday, 21 March 2014

Stocking up for Winter

It is so very European to take stock of your pantry and build up your stores before the winter snow arrives. Maybe it is inherent, because I still do it, although Adelaide doesn't get any snow and our winters are mild compared to Europe and the USA.

We are well into March and so far I have had a bumper time filling up my shelves for the coming year. In December I bought some fabulous cherries and made a batch of Cherry and Vanilla Conserve. January saw an abundance of tomatoes so out came my big pot for Tomato Sauce and Chilli Jam. Then I found that my red cabbage was ready for picking so I  decided I should make some Pickled Red Cabbage. In February, I was given a mass of lemons, so I preserved these in salt. 

Now I feel very smug because my shelves are filled up with any array of goodies. I am hoarding Green Pepper Pickle, Sweet Pickled Cucumbers and Tomato and Tamarind Chutney from my last efforts. So all in all I should be ready for the winter, just in case the snow arrives.

You can find my Cherry and Vanilla Jam and Chilli Jam Recipes in my previous posts. Here are the recipes for Pickled Red Cabbage and Preserved Lemons.
If you don't grow either lemons or cabbages yourself, you may find some of your friends will be only too happy to share their produce if you offer a pickle or a preserve in return. There's only so much cabbage one person can eat if you want to keep your friends.

Here's the recipes I used.
Pickled Red Cabbage

1/2 Red cabbage, finely sliced
3 tsp pickling spices
1 litre of white vinegar/Cider vinegar
Sea Salt

Spread the finely sliced red cabbage onto a tray and sprinkle with a good helping of rock salt. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave overnight. Wash all the salt off the cabbage and place in a colander to drain.

Measure the pickling spices and vinegar and place these in a large sauce pan over a low heat and bring to the boil. Turn off and let the spices infuse for a 5 minutes or so.

Pack the red cabbage into clean warm jars and fill the jars with warm pickling spices and vinegar. Seal immediately. Leave for around 6 weeks before eating.

Preserved Lemons


Wash and dry lemons and cut into 1/4rs
Sea salt
White Mustard seeds
Dried bay leaves
Whole Cloves
Black peppercorns
Mason Preserving jars with a rubber seal

In the bottom of each jar that you want to fill with lemons add 2 bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed, 2 whole cloves, 6 black peppercorns and a sprinkling of salt.
Pack the lemon pieces into your jar, layering with salt as you go. For each layer of lemons, cover with salt. Continue until the jar is completely full. Seal.

Store jars in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks, giving them a turn upside down and a good shake to distribute the spices and keep the salt and lemon juice flowing. Once the lemons have gone soft and squishy they are ready to use.
Some people put them in the fridge at this point. So far I have left them on a shelf in the kitchen and they seem to be doing OK.

You can use them finely chopped in rice, Quinoa, tagines or other vegetables dishes.

Last week I saw that plums were at such a good price, it was time to get cracking on some jam. So the kitchen has been awash with Plum and Cinnamon Jam.

I also decided to try my hand at Plum and Cardamom Jam,because I like these flavours together, but not made them into jam before. First I roasted the plums. I would not have thought about roasting plums but I came upon a recipe for ice cream made from roasted plums and wondered how good they would be in jam. 

The colour and flavour of the plums was so intensified that it made the jam absolutely sensational. I am sharing my recipe now so you can go and buy some plums before the season ends and make your own.

Roasted Plum and Cardamom Jam

1.5kg Plums
1 kg sugar
1/2 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
10 green cardamom pods

  • Put the oven on to 170 degrees/fan forced.
  • Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • Cut the plums in half and lay them cut side up on the tray. You can leave the stones in because they are easier to remove when they are cooked.
  • Bake in the oven for around 20 - 30 minutes until the plums are soft. This depends on how ripe your plums are.
  • Remove from the oven and take out the plum stones.
  • Lightly crush the cardamom pods and tie up in some muslin.
  • Put the plums, all the juices, water, lemon juice and cardamom in muslin into a large pan and slowly bring to the boil. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook until setting point is reached. My jam took only about 15 minutes to reach setting point, but this will depend on the type of plums you use. Remove the muslin and discard.
  • Take off the heat, remove any scum and spoon into hot clean jars and seal.

Checking for Setting Point
To check if jam has reached setting point. Take jam off heat and spoon a little onto a cold plate. Allow the 'jam' to cool. If you push your finger through it and it wrinkles then it has reached setting point.

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