Category Archives: From Garden to Plate

Prosecco Apple Butter – The Recipe

I made a pretty bloomin’ good apple butter the other day (even if I may say so myself…!) Anywho, if you are in to apples, or prosecco, or jam making, or happen to have a truck-load of apples kicking about, then this, my friends, is for you!

photo 3We have an ancient apple tree in the garden, it chucks out fruit by the barrow-load every year. So, each year, I know that I’ll need to think up some new ideas for apples – and here it is:

Prosecco. Apple. Butter.

photo 1 (5)

Ingredients:

  • Approx. 1.5kg Peeled, cored, chopped apples (I used cooking apples as they are what grow in the garden, but also, they cook down really well)
  • 1 x 75cl bottle of prosecco – no, you can’t have a glass!
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon (or ginger would be awesome too!)
  • Sugar (you’ll work out how much you’ll need later)
  • 500ml water

Method:

  1. Put all the apple chunks in to a biiiiiiig saucepan, bung in the prosecco & also, about 500ml water.
  2. Bring gently to the boil & allow to simmer until the apples are soft, mushy & starting to break up.
  3. Mash the apple mix (or use a stick blender) until you have a smooth consistency.
  4. Grab a measuring jug & pour the apple mix in to it. Now work out how much sugar you think you’ll need – approx 350g sugar for every 600ml of apple-y mix, give or take…
  5. chuck all the apple mix back in to your very big pan & add in the sugar & cinnamon (or ginger).
  6. Bring up to the boil, keep stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil the mix quite fast until it starts to change colour, thicken & get glossy – any where between 20mins & an hour. Give it a stir every few minutes to stop the apple butter sticking to the bottom of the pan & burning.
  7. When you think it is ready, drop a bit on a plate & check it for set after a few minutes (also the perfect opportunity to give it a taste!)
  8. When you are happy with the taste & texture, get that delicious stuff dropped in to sterilised jars & seal up straight away – you can see how i sterilise my jars here.
  9. Allow to cool, label & stash away until Christmas.

This apple butter, whilst super delicious, will only keep for around 9-12months. Once you’ve cracked the seal on a jar, keep it in the fridge & use as fast as is socially acceptable to do so (no eating it from the fridge, with your hands!)

Use this golden yum yum on toast, crispbreads, crackers, scones & croissants. Serve alongside a face-meltingly mature cheddar. Fill cakes, pastries & tarts with it. Dollop it on top of hot porridge or rice pudding. Or, grab a spoon & just eat it! 😉 I suppose, if you really like your friends, you could give them a jar for Christmas, but, you know, make sure you really like them first!

Enjoy!

 

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The Enormous Turnip (Stack)

Once upon a time, there was a woman with a child, the child had read ‘The Enormous Turnip’ and wanted, very much, to grow turnips of her own. The woman, without thinking, agreed to this. Now here is the tale of what they did with ALL THOSE DARN TURNIPS!

turnips

We picked turnips, quite a lot of turnips, but really, only about half of the turnips from the plot. We have way more to go!

So, the question is; what do you do with a bounty of turnips that no-one wants to eat?! My first thought was jars, lots and lots of jars. This recipe actually started out as a nicely spiced turnip jam (I know, what the hell?! I was giving the turnips way too much credit there), but of course, it tasted quite a lot like jam, with turnips in it – not ideal! So, I fiddled about with it, until it became… wait for it… TURNIP CHUTNEY! (stick with me).

Whilst it isn’t something you’d expect to find on a fancy restaurant menu, it is actually pretty tasty. So, if like me, you have foolishly ended up with an enormous supply of turnips – give this a go!

Spiced Turnip Chutney:

(Makes 3(ish) jars)

Ingredients:

  • 1kg turnips
  • 400ml water
  • 100ml apple juice
  • juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 10tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 10 cloves, crushed
  • 1tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 500g white sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp pepper

Method:

  1. Peel and chop the turnips into around a 1-2cm dice.
  2. Pop the turnips in a pan with the water, apple juice, lemon juice, spices and salt & pepper.
  3. Bring up to a boil and simmer until the turnip is tender (approx 20-30mins).
  4. Mash the mix, trying to not leave too many big chunks of turnip – unless you really like the flavour of turnip, in which case, leave it chunky!
  5. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
  6. Add in the vinegar and bring to boil. Allow to simmer for a good hour or so until the mix resembles a lovely thick chutney that thickens when it cools (chuck a bit on a plate and see if it looks like chutney after a minute or so!)
  7. Taste it to make sure you are happy with the balance of sweet, sharp and spice – feel free to fiddle about with it.
  8. Pour in to hot, sterilised* jars whilst still hot and seal immediately.

I found that this chutney was perhaps a little too sweet, probably from where it actually started out as a jam, but I think it will go really well with a mega aged, sharp cheddar and some oatcakes.

You know, if you find that you still can’t stick the taste of turnips, even when disguised with sugar, vinegar and spices, well, you’ve just made yourself a stack of lovely homemade Christmas presents to give to your inlaws! 😉

Go and give it a go and let me know what you think! My next batch of turnips are going to be pickled, so there will be another recipe coming up soon!

*There are heaps of ways to sterilise jars – just drop it in to a search engine & you’ll get loads of different methods. I personally just wash in hot soapy water and bung them in a very low oven for about 20mins.

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The redcurrants are coming!

I was pretty excited to see that the redcurrants have started the turn pink.

redcurrantsLast year, we had a mega bumper crop of redcurrants. I’m hoping that this year, we will do as well, if not better.

Even as a total novice (and a bit useless) gardener, I’ve got to say that redcurrants are pretty much foolproof. I’m amazed at how well they grow and how little attention they need. Plus, they don’t take up too much room, so perfect if you have a teeny garden.

So, I’m looking forward to harvesting these beauties when they are bright, shiny and red. I’ve planned to make some sorbet, some jam with the ones that don’t get eaten straight away.

Go on, grab a redcurrant bush & give them a go. You’ll love it!

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Attempting the ‘Good Life’

Deep down, somewhere, inside all of us is a provider, a nuturer, a grower… a gardener – at least, this is what I HAVE to believe!

allotmentWhen we relocated back to Sussex, we took on my Grandma & Grandpa’s garden. I say Grandma & Grandpa, but it was most definitely my Uncle Joe’s garden. It was his passion, his life. It was glorious in its prime. So, I feel big big pressure to do it justice.

Now, whilst we have been blessed with huge apple and pear trees that sort themselves out, we also have quite a bit of veg-growing space. I’m a total novice, in fact, I’m worse than that, I am to plants what the black death was to London… let’s just say, I’m not a gifted or natural gardener.

So, we are trying our very very best to make something special. I want to make my Uncle Joe proud. I’ll admit that it was looking a bit old-fashioned, so I’ve mainly been concentrating on making it a bit better looking and useful and then thinking about the plants after that.

To say that the project is a constant development, would be an understatement. I guess, as any garden does, it will evolve, change, move. As such, I’ll keep showing you what we’re doing & then hopefully you’ll think I’m becoming Charlie Dimmock, but WITH a bra on!

So, here, I present you with our raised beds – these now have potatoes, red & white onions, peas, sweetcorn, beets and turnips in them, so, with any luck, you’ll be able to see some of our awful prize-winning produce soon.

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