Monday, 10 July 2017

Monday night preserving - currant cordial, toffee vodka, redcurrant jelly

What a week of harvest! It's a full time job when things get going isn't it? We harvested everything in the below photo on Sunday.
Buster is just making sure things are in order.
Now technically I don't think toffee vodka is a preserve? Regardless it is going on my Monday night slot as the quickest, simplest vodka recipe we have done so far.  Ste's Mam mentioned that she had some toffee vodka last Christmas and she really liked it.  We popped a packet of Werthers in a litre of vodka and hey presto, job done. We are shaking it twice a day until the toffees dissolve completely.
The colour isn't that attractive but we're told it's a lovely warming drink on the cold winter nights.  What I didn't realise is the kilner jar is a 3 litre one!  Not to worry, it'll be freed up soon for the next item and this won't take long to dissolve.
Next up was another alcoholic Christmssy drink.
Earlier this year I read on Tricia's, Tarragon and Thyme blog about cherry brandy and thought we have to give that a go.  We've just harvested cherries from a couple of our trees before the birds got to them so the perfect opportunity to give it a go.
Again, it is very simple to do.  We added pierced cherrys to a bottle of brandy and 300g sugar. For extra Christmas feel I popped a cinnamon stick in too. In a couple of months we will strain it all and keep the cherries for something else, no doubt also Christmassy.
Next up on the harvest was the currant bushes. Goodness me they take a while to harvest but it was enjoyable as we all sat around the currant bush and just chatted on together.
We harvested 1.6kg black currants (this time) and 2.5kg red currants. It was our second harvest of black currants, the first lot are in the freezer.
The black currants were made into a super quick cordial and some of the red were too. Recipe as follows:
Put 1kg berries and 300ml water on low heat and simmer for 10 mins. Mash with potato masher to speed things up. Don't do this is you prefer a clearer juice (you'll get less cordial for your money if you do that though). Strain through a muslin cloth and the resulting juice should be added to granulated sugar:  for every 500ml liquid add 300g sugar. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add 1tsp citric acid and stir. Bottle into sterilised bottles. It is delicious. These will be used quickly so we didn't water bath but if they were for Christmas then we'd water bath.
 
You will see I also made more strawberry jam which I've blogged about before. I'm sticking with that recipe as it's divine and I have received so many compliments for my first batch that I don't want to change a thing. On potting up, I filled these jars even more than last time, so they were virtually over flowing. Fingers crossed it is as nice and for no mould!
I've also started some redcurrant jelly tonight which I'll finish telling you about tomorrow as when I've gone to make the recipe tonight, I need to let it drip overnight.
Here's what I've done for now.
I've added 400ml to 1kg currants and simmered for 45 minutes. I'm draining this through a jelly bag tonight ready to finish tomorrow night.
 

11 comments:

  1. Well done Tracy. Don't under any circumstances squeeze the jelly bag as it will result in a cloudier preserve. If you leave it alone you should have a bright and clear preserve. I use a lot of redcurrant jelly in gravies and stocks. Its lovely served with a piece of pork (instead of or with apple sauce) but then again apple jelly or spiced apple jelly is really good with pork (especially if made with Crab apples). If you use red crab apples then you will get a pinky red finish and if you use green crab apples you will get a yellowy green preserve. Jellies are a good one to get to grips with.

    You can also make a "cheese" with what is left of the pulp in the bag. This is a much thicker preserve which is usually passed through a mouligrater to get rid of all the pulpy bits and produce a smooth mixture. This is then boiled with lots of sugar and takes a while to come together. It also spits horribly and you can get burnt while cooking it. It is usually then potted into straight sided jars which have been rubbed with glycering (to let the preserve come out of the pot easily) packed in given a greaseproof lid and then a paraffin wax seal and stored on the pantry shelf in a cool place. It is called a cheese as it is served like a cheese with meat, cheese etc. This way you get two for the price of one.

    Skittles, pear drops, bubble gum, peppermint sticks, etc. etc. can be used for making alternative vodkas as well. I did not use Werthers this time round but used Thorntons plain toffee. Its still in the jar curing. I believe you can also make your own caramel syrup and combine this with the vodka.

    Am glad that you have got to grips with the jam.

    Cherries once taken off the brandy can be frozen and then served as a boozy Christmas pudding or in a home made sponge to make your own version of "Black Forest" gateau. They are pokey though. (Probably not for the littlies) However do not leave the cherries on the brandy for more than three months especially if the pits are still in them. I always pit mine.

    And really well done on the harvest. You have done exceptionally well and I am so glad you are enjoying it. Me I am into the dehydrating at the moment. Its getting a bit of an addiction.

    Take care sweetie and I really am enjoying your "Preserving" blog.

    Pattypan

    x

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    1. Some great tips there. When you say cheese is that like when you make lemon curd?

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    2. Hi its a stiffer version of lemon curd. A true cheese is cut into slices so has to be fairly stiff. Some lemon curds are referred to as lemon cheese but it is somewhere inbetween lemon curd and a true cheese. The older recipes give instructions for getting two preserves out of the one lot of fruit. Cheese is stored in little upright dishes and then "greased" with glycerine to help aid the removal of the cheese from the jar. I re-used some of the little glass dishes that Marks and Spencers did little puddings in and gave them a proper wax seal i.e. a paraffin wax seal which was one of the ways of securing an airtight seal years ago. When I do this I always put greaseproof paper circles between the wax and the preserve just to be on the safe side. It keeps the preserve marvellously. If you were to pot a cheese in a jam jar it would be difficult to get out of the jar. You have to put a thread of cotton through it to remove the wax and it is a different way of doing things but it works. Far better than pigs bladders on stone jars which used to be the preferred method of storing things long term in pantries of the past. Thank goodness we have got past that.

      Pattypan x

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    3. Excellent advice Tricia. Thank you. I'm going to freeze the redcurrant pulp until I look into this or decide what to do with it, I don't want it going to waste of course!
      Mind you the redcurrat jelly is nothing like Pan Corbin says. We only got 350ml juice and she states add 450g sugar for every 600ml so I'm guessing she expected us to get at least 600ml. We added the right amount of sugar for the lesser amount of currants and it's going to set solid, I can tell. We only got 1.5 jars and not the 4 she states. The berries seemed juicy too but just didn't give what we expected! Ahh well I'll just cut the jelly into blocks if possible and reheat into gravies etc when needed! All enjoyable though. I might try one of the more imaginative vodkas for a bonfire night BBQ we're hosting which people are bringing their home made boose to. xx

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  2. I am both exhausted and drunk just reading this. Toffee vodka! I must make this immediately! About 10 years ago in the US there was a "martini" crazy ala Sex and the City probably and one of the popular "martinis" was a carmel apple one. This would be really good in that and also hot chocolate I would think.

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    1. After they dissolve do I just bottle it? Anything else to do?

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    2. No just bottle it :) Ooooh hot chocolate!!! I sense a very merry time ahead lol x

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  3. We've already talked about your perfect preserved produce! Just to say fab fab fab, well done and I am envious of your wonderful tableful. Gives me a kick up the bum to do something myself when I harvest enough.x

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    1. Thank you Lou, always nice to hear! You're dehydrating is amazing so I'm taking my cue from you on that one. x

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  4. I wish I had a table like that! My strawberries are finished and all my other fruit bushes are very young. Love the idea of the cherry brandy and I may have to go scrumping as there are a couple of trees we I walk on public land! I'm so please you are enjoying your new life O can imagine it to be hard work as I know my small garden dictates what I need to do!

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    1. Ah thanks Tania. I'm too wondering when the strawberries will finish. Our gooseberry bushes are mostly young too so nothing doing there this year. It's kind of you to say - we are really loving life here and I keep thinking how lucky we are (to which Ste reminds me we both work hard and luck doesn't come into it but whatever it is, it's good!) xx

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