Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Preserving Summer

 I love being a keeper of the home! I enjoy learning new skills to add to those that I have built up over the years of running a home and caring for my family. Believe it or not - I couldn't cook a thing when I got married! My DH did all the cooking for a year - slowly teaching me the basics. This is something I have sworn will not be one of my daughters weaknesses! It is so easy to have the children alongside in the kitchen preparing food. Learning how to cook then comes as easily as any other natural growing learning experience :o)

My latest venture has been to learn the art of preserving. I decided to start with 3 fruit marmalade as this is one of my DH's favourites. Although there is plenty of marmalade on the shelves in the store - I pretty sure that homemade is best. So, I eagerly spent the better part of an hour slicing and dicing, borrowed a large pot from my willing neighbour and set to simmering the fruit and preserving sugar. Not having a thermometer, I opted for the old fashioned 'saucer' test. My mixture bubbled away for ages, I was convinced that it had boiled enough to extract the pectin in order to get to setting point. So I bottled up all that fruity goodness and went off to bed - glowing in the light of domestic bliss :o)

The next morning I awoke to go and have a look at my sure-to-be-set marmalade and found.... a watery collection of fruit floating about in jars! Aaaarrrgggg!! Now what? All that time, all that effort! Well, all I can say is thank heavens for 'Google'! As it turns out, if your jam/marmalade has not set, you can simply pop it back into your pot and continue boiling until setting point is reached. I was careful to do the saucer test frequently and eventually had success in producing beautiful tasty marmalade which set! My shelves are stocked for the winter! We learn from our experience's and I now know what marmalade which has reached setting point looks like. My next endeavour will be to use up all the blackberries which are ripening all around us to make blackberry jam and a couple of pies for the freezer.

Pretty labels for your preserves can be found on the net for free download

Lemon curd is a favourite in my family. The first time I made it, it really seemed like quite a long winded process. I have since found a really quick and easy recipe from an old recipe book which has proved to be a winner.

Lemon Curd

250g butter
500g caster sugar
5 eggs beaten
Juice and finely grated rind from 4 medium lemons

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend. Pour into a large saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the butter and sugar have melted and the mixture thickens. (you will notice the colour change from light yellow to dark yellow) Allow to bubble for a bit while stirring. Pour into prepared sterilized jars. The lemon curd has a shelf live of about 2 weeks or will keep in the refrigerator for 1 month.


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