Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mulberry Jelly

For some reason, my mulberry tree has always borne fruit in late spring. It did, last year and every year since we've had it (It's about nine years old now). But this year, it's done so again now, early autumn. Checking out my reference books, they tell me this is the normal time for it to fruit. So what has it been doing to date? Mysteries.
We eat some of the mulberries, but most go to the birds. With this "bonus crop" I thought that I'd have a go a mulberry jelly. Here's how it goes:

1. Pick your mulberries, and tip them into a saucepan. Just cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about an hour, mashing the mulberries so they release their juice.

2. Line a colander with cheesecloth (or muslin, whatever you call a soft, loosely woven cotton fabric). Place it over a jug or bowl. Tip the mulberries and juice into the lined colander, and let the juice flow through into the jug. Don't force the juice through, let gravity do it's work. This ensures your jelly is clear, not cloudy.
3. Once the juice has stopped flowing, gather the cheesecloth up, and tie with kitchen string so you have what looks like a Christmas pudding. Find somewhere convenient for you to hang your "pudding", with the jug underneath to catch the drips. Leave for a couple of hours or overnight.
4. Measure out your juice, and put into a saucepan with the equivalent amount of white sugar. This batch yielded 3 cups of juice, so I measured out 3 cups of sugar. Add juice of a lemon, and a piece of rind too. Bring to the boil, then simmer until you have achieved a set (about 45 minutes to an hour).
To test the set, I put a saucer in the freezer while the juice is simmering. At about the 45 minute mark I pour a spoonful of juice onto the saucer and let it sit for a minute. Then I run the tip of a teaspoon through the jelly. If it wrinkles, it is set. If not, test again - I generally do so at 5 minute intervals.
At this point, you can't get too distracted. I have found my juice has gone from juicy to caramelised in less time than I would have imagined, because I've gone off to do something else.
5. Pour into hot sterilised jars (washed out in soapy water, then placed into the oven - lids too - at 100C while the jelly is simmering does the trick).

Off to Anzac Day memorial service now. Lest we forget.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

This and that

I haven't been posting all that often here lately. Life is pootling along, following familiar routines for this time of the year. I'm happy with this. Just not much that seems blogworthy. Just remember, they say no news is good news.
The vegie patch is at an in between stage. I really need to be ruthless and take out the summer veg so I can get winter veg in, but they are still producing with the beautiful warm weather. The beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and pumpkin are all still going great guns. Only the eggplant and capsicum have slowed down for now, but they look very healthy. So they all have a reprieve for now. I'll have to do the deed and rip out plants soon, before it gets too cool.
So not much to report. I made Tracy's Spicy Zucchini Relish yesterday. I'm always on the lookout for different ways to use zucchini, and a spicy relish appealed to me. It's delicious, I had it on my cheese and salad roll for lunch. It also looks very cheerful in the jar. You can find Tracy's recipe here. You won't be sorry.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Pressing times

Once the grapes from the previous post had fermented over a week or so, it was time to press the grapes to get the wine. Last weekend we had pressing day. Here is Action Man at left, with our friend George. We are using George's press. Although AM has all manner of winemaking gadgets, he doesn't have a press, and George is happy to lend us his. He does get paid for this service in wine:)
We are really happy with how this wine is shaping up. The grapes (from Berri SA) were superb, and required minimal doctoring. And the young wine tastes great now. With time in the barrel, and bottle age, this one looks like a cracker.