DIY Cultured Cashew Cheese

Hi everyone – its been a while since I blogged. The busy-ness of life has got in the way. A few months ago I tracked down Reece  – a member of our food coop – as he had published this amazing recipe for cultured cheese in our local co-op magazine. Reece is a hard core fermenter who does all sorts of very cool stuff with lactic acid bacteria and its my honour to have him as a guest blogger here. As a bonus – there are some cool other links to pursue at the end. 

Burns

First of all, thanks to Burns for inviting me to write a guest post on his blog. My name is Reece. I’m a college librarian, cooking, baking, and fermenting/brewing enthusiast, and a fan of listening to podcasts and audiobooks on long walks. I met Burns through Karma Food Co-op in Toronto, and occasionally write a zine, and on my blog peakes.wordpress.com.
I’ve been making cultured cashew cheeses for a few years now, and appreciate this type of fermentation for the ease of achieving really tasty, quick (for a fermentation), and varied results with easily available ingredients.
Cashew cheese, actually a fermented nut paté, is dairy-free and simple to make at home with natural ingredients and basic kitchen equipment. Culturing the cheese increases the nutritional value of the raw ingredients, adding probiotics to your diet, and adds complexity to the flavour.
The instructions below provide the basics for making a spreadable cashew cheese. It’s just a beginning, though: by adjusting the recipe and adding ingredients, you can make a wide variety of cashew cheeses. By changing the nuts, you can get an even wider variety of nut cheeses. You can also air dry cashew cheese to make a sharp, hard, salty block. More about ways to be creative with this recipe at the end.

Materials Required

  • Large wide-mouth jar
  • Cheesecloth
  • Elastic band that will fit around jar mouth (a wide elastic will hold the cheesecloth best)
  • Food processor or powerful blender
  • A container/containers with lid(s). These will be your cheese molds – choose plastic, silicone, or glass. If using the latter, it’s easiest to remove the cheese from the mold if you line it with plastic wrap or parchment paper first.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 4-8 hours
  • ⅔ cup nutritional yeast (optional, but recommended)
  • ½ cup rejuvelac (see instructions on making rejuvelac below): requires ¼ C dry whole raw grain or pseudograin
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Step 1: Make Rejuvelac (Days 1-6)

Rejuvelac is a cultured sprouted grain beverage that is used to provide beneficial bacteria to the cheese (the miso does as well). If you have sprouted grains, seeds, or legumes before you may already have a process for sprouting – feel free to use that method for the first part of the rejuvelac-making process. My method is below. This makes enough rejuvelac for several batches of cheese, and it can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for months at a time.

Rejuvelac

Ingredients

¼ cup dry whole raw grains or pseudo grains (e.g., brown rice, quinoa, spelt groats, millet)

Water

  • Put the grain in your wide mouth jar and fill the jar up to the top with water. Cut a 2-layer piece of cheesecloth big enough to cover the mouth of your jar and use the elastic band to secure it in place. Let the grain soak over night.
  • In the morning pour the water out of the jar through the cheesecloth. Then rinse the grain by filling the jar up with fresh water and dumping it out a couple of times. This prevents the grain from going moldy. Set the jar upside but on an angle so that excess water can drain out. A dish rack works well for this.

Rejuvelac2

  • Repeat step 2 two-three times per day until the grain begins to sprout (about 3 days). For some grains you must look closely to see the tiny white tails begin to emerge. Grains will sprout more quickly when it’s warm, and need to be rinsed more regularly in very hot weather.
  • After the grains have sprouted, add 1.5 cups water to your jar. Set the jar aside at room temperature for 3 days, keeping it out of direct sunlight and away from sources of high heat. After 3 days, the water should be somewhat cloudy, and smell a little earthy. It may taste tart as well. Now you have rejuvelac! Compost the grains (their nutrients have leached into the water), and save the liquid.

Step 2: Combine Ingredients (Day 7)

  • Add all ingredients to your food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape the sides a few times.
  • and cover. Now the fermenting process continues!

Step 3: Fermentation (Days 7-9/10)

  • Leave your covered container(s) of cheese in a warm area for 2-3 days. Sample the cheese as time goes by, if you like. After maximum 3 days transfer to the fridge, and let firm for 6 hours before eating. The cheese will continue to slowly sharpen in the fridge. It will last in the fridge for a few weeks, or in the freezer for months.

Get Creative

There is no reason to stick to this exact recipe – I’m offering it for guidance, and to get you started. Get creative by replacing the cashews with hemp seeds, or add sun-dried tomatoes or fresh or dried herbs to the cheese. Sage, smoked paprika, chives, peppercorns, etc. are all great options, just add to taste. A small amount of additional cultured food will also enhance your cheese and make the flavour more complex – try sauerkraut, brine of kraut or pickles, kimchi, additional miso, or yogurt (dairy or non). Just make sure to check and see that what you are adding is unpasteurized, live cultured and contains no preservatives, sulphites, etc. (which could prevent the cheese from fermenting). Enjoy, and feel free to contact me at reeceaxl@gmail.com.

 

More Information

Wild Fermentation http://www.wildfermentation.com This site is full of information on making and using all sorts of fermented foods, and on the benefits of fermented foods.

Punk Domestics http://www.punkdomestics.com A site of recipes for fermented foods, including dairy and cashew cheese.

Fermented Vegan Cheese http://fermentedvegancheese.blogspot.ca A blog of fermented cashew cheese instructions and a cheesecake recipe. Includes information on making harder cheeses in molds.

Post-Punk Kitchen http://www.theppk.com If you don’t have time to make fermented cheese, the recipe section of this site offers several non-fermented nut and seed cheese dishes.

So you want to make your own delicious homemade tomato sauce…

This blog post is a supplement to my previous blog documenting my own personal process. The purpose is to help the reader sort out how they can best do canned tomatoes. You may be doing it for the first time, or it could be something you have tried before. This article is intended to help you plan it out.

How much you do depends largely on the equipment you have, what your needs are, and to a lesser extent how much you want to spend.

Here in  Ontario, Canada, you should be able to buy conventional tomatoes for about $20 (cdn) per bushel and about $40 for organic, if you can get them. One bushel yields between 18-22 L, depending on the juciness and how much you have reduced them.  Flats are about  half a bushel, or approximately 10 Litres. Add in the costs of garlic, onions, herbs and spices, and propane/electricity, and you are making a litre of homemade organic tomato sauce for approximately $1.50 a jar for conventional tomatoes, $3.50/jar for organic.

The next consideration is the equipment. If you decide to put up multiple bushels such as is described here, you are going to need some specialized equipment. If you are doing a single flat – 10 or so jars, you could do this with your biggest pot, no specialized equipment, and in your (albeit hot) kitchen.  You may wish to consider doing this with  friends, where each of you purchases the burners, presses, and large pots.

Alternatives to a tomato press

Tomato presses separate the seeds and skin from the flesh of the tomato. If you think about great tomato sauces you have tasted, you may recall there are no seeds or skin bits floating around in the mix. If you are trying this for the first time and unsure about the investment, one alternative is to blanch each tomato to loosen the skins, manually take each off, and then once the sauce is cooking, put it through a strainer. As you can imagine this is going to be a thankless task. You could also put up with the seeds and skins in your mix. If you go in this direction, I’d suggest pureeing the tomatoes before cooking them. If you wish to invest in a press, check out cooking equipment stores or hardware stores in neighbourhoods where preserving is part of life.

Alternatives to the burners:

I use a 60k btu outdoor propane burner . Its a massive unit that puts out a lot of heat. You could use it for other purposes – a huge stew for 20 people, a community corn roast – but most of us don’t need this, nor have the space to store it. I started with one, moved to 2 and recently got a third. If you are doing lesser quantities and have a BBQ with a side burner, you can use the side burner to boil the jars, and remove the grills and use the BBQ to boil the sauce. You could also do it inside …… which could work for a single flat, but would get tedious beyond that.

Recipes:

Here are 3 recipes – the only difference being their volume. The process remains the same for each, so its noted only once.

One flat (approximately 10L)

  • 1 flat of tomatoes
  • 10 medium large onions, cut fine
  • 2 garlic bulbs, minced
  • 50g salt (and taste for more before you can them)
  • ¼ tsp pepper (& to taste)
  • 1 tbs each basil, oregano, and thyme (& to taste)
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • enough oil to cook the mash

Bushel (2 flats yields @20L)

  • 1 bushel (MUST BE ROMA) tomatoes
  • 2 pints large onions
  • 3-4 large bulbs garlic
  • approximately 2tbs each of basil, oregano thyme
  • 5-6 or so bay leaves
  • enough sunflower oil to cook the mash – a 1/4 cup or so.
  • 3/4 tbs pepper
  • 100g (.5tsp/litre) salt – check to taste later (+1 tbs/bushel at end of cooking)

4 bushels

  • 4 bushels (MUST BE ROMA) tomatoes
  • 8 pints large onions
  • 10 large bulbs garlic
  • approximately 1/2 cup each of basil, oregano thyme
  • 20 or so bay leaves
  • enough sunflower oil to cook the mash – a cup or so.
  • 2 tbs pepper
  • 400g (.5tsp/litre) salt – check to taste later

Equipment needed

  • a good food processor
  • 2-3 full bbq tanks
  • 1-2 large boiling pots
  • 1-2 large cooking pots
  • 2-3 outdoor 60k btu burners
  • 2 -3 small tables
  • containers to transport finished sauce
  • 1 large spoon (i.e. 1m in length)
  • 80 L of jars – 1 L, 1.5 l sizes
  • 2 tongs – canning tongs and bbq tongs
  • 4 l measuring cup
  • sharp knife
  • breadboard
  • hose and water
  • metal collander
  • oven mits
  • matches or BBQ lighter
  • tomato press
  • canning funnel

METHOD

  • Cut onions, garlic  – food processor with slicing attachment used
  • Add in spices and oil
  • Cook mash until onions are translucent
  • Divide mash into bowls according to how many batches of sauce  you have
  • Set up: make sure the grinding operation and  burners form a triangle around you.
  • The grinder must be on a firm surface with space. There needs to be a place for the seeds to fall, and a surface for the sauce to drop. There needs to be a place for the breadboard and knife to the right of the grinder, a pot of rinse water beside it, and a platform for the bushel basket to sit on above the pot.
  • Fill the canning pot half way up with water, heat it up until boiling
  • Prepare jars, separating lids, tops and jars. Discard any questionable lids. Place lids in a collander that can be easily inserted then removed from boiling water.
  • Pour one batch of herb mash in the cooking pot, and begin grinding the tomatoes, adding to the mash. Light the burner once the first bowl of tomato juice has been prepared. Keep on a high boil, stirring frequently. (This is the key to a thick and reduced sauce). Once the bushel has been ground and is cooking, taste and adjust for salt.
  • Reduce the sauce  – full boil while stirring for about 30 minutes
  • Shortly before canning, put the bottles and lids in the waterbath for a few minutes. Remove them and set yourself up for filling: lids and caps separate, canning funnel and pouring jar ready.
  • Taste to see if you need more salt
  • Fill leaving 1/4″ at top. Tighten the lids before immersing them in the waterbath. (If you need to add more water, DO NOT add cold water if the jars are already in the waterbath. They will crack and break – guaranteed. Take all the jars out, add the water, put the hot jars back in.)
  • Put on a rolling boil for 25 minutes.
  • Let cool, make sure all the lids have popped down. Lids that have not popped down indicate an air leak. Use these jars first, and refrigerate them until use.

Good luck! I hope you do feel inspired to do this. You will never look back!

Fermented vegetables #2: wild onions

A brief note: I first drafted this blog entry in May 2015, though the posting of it comes in August 2015. Its been a busy time for me and the blog seems to be the first thing that goes in the general triage of life.

I’ve decided to keep it unchanged as its a great reflection of my very initial understanding and approach to fermented vegetables at that point.

 

Ever gone foraging for wild onions? A wonderful experience. The earthy smell of spring as the early green of buds is on the trees, the promise of a rich summer to come. The reaping of the year’s first crop.

We were at our place up north first week of May at the height of the wild onion season. This is nature’s  yearly event where all the wild onions are up – their earthy garlicy pungent air – both sublime and yet not so subtle either.  

I picked what I could but for the short term I really had too much and I did not want to throw any of it away. I knew those lovely leaves probably had about a week in the fridge before they were compost material.  I did not want them to go to ruin. What to do? I wondered about making them into a fermented vegetable product.  I had heard about this that very day at the market. One of the vendors was selling a fermented vegetable condiment.

I thought, “Let’s check this out” and looked on the web. Essentially the process involves soaking the vegetable in a brine,  leaving it out of the fridge for 3 days and then putting it into the fridge for 3 weeks. That seems simple enough.

Here then is the recipe

Ingredients:

wild onion leaves

salt

water

a large leaf of a tough vegetable like kale or cabbage

Equipment needed

2 pots: 1 large pot and a smaller one to prepare the brine

a couple of jars. I use a 500ml widemouth mason jar

A rock that will fit inside your jar

A pestle to pack down the leaves.

Method

The leaves before processing

The leaves before processing

  1. Identify the jar and rock to weigh things down
  2. sterilize jar, rock and pestle.
  3. make a brine: 1litre of water, 50g salt. (20:1 solution) Heat the water and add the salt until the salt is dissolved. Take off the stove and let cool. The instructions that I saw gave volume measurements but I’ve made a ‘typical’ 20:1 brine 1 liter of water: 50g salt.
  4. Clean and cut the leaves. I decided to cut them very small because it would be likely I’m using this as a condiment so I’d want it in very small bits – almost a paste.
  5. Place the leaves in a very clean jar  – in my case a wide mouth 1L mason jar and crush/mash them with a pestle.  

    After cutting them, they are crushed with a pestle.

    After cutting them, they are crushed with a pestle.

  6. Take a large leaf of cabbage or kale as an additional barrier between the wild onion leaves and the air. NONE of the leaves can be in contact with the air and at this stage they need to be pressed down. For this purpose I used a combination of a small mason jar lid and a rock (I I subsequently realized that a small mason jar lid with a 250 ml mason jar filled with water acts as an effective press for such a little amount.)
The brine added, they will be pushed belwo the surface with the weight of the rock (or jar of water.

The brine added, they will be pushed below the surface with the weight of the rock (or jar of water.

  1. Leave the jar at room temperature for  3 days and then refrigerate for 3 weeks although it  could be eaten at this point.

What to do with it?

  • Think Umeboshi plum paste: as an addition to a rice or vegetable dish
  • Mustard flavoring – either subtle or not so subtle
  • a condiment on the side – be careful – its strong!
  • as part of the flavor palette of a viniagrette
  • a BBQ rub in place of garlic
  • a flavoring ingredient in a sauce.

In retrospect, and several months into fermenting,  I would not change a lot about this. I would add a little salt and massage the leaves before cutting them to bruise the leaves and begin the fermentation process, but I still think its a vegetable that needs the brine liquid added to it (as opposed to only massaging with salt). The 20:1 (5%) brine is, I believe correct  – but who am I to say?  

Fermented vegetables part 1

brined slaw (1)

A brined slaw I’m fermenting

20150815_105032

My new crock pot. I’m so excited!

 

Eric Satie, that eccentric Parisian who penned a couple of our most haunting tunes once said, “Show me something new and I’ll start all over.” I feel a little like that concerning fermented   – or cultured – vegetables.

Its now been several months that I’ve been experimenting with  cultured vegetables. Its high time I chronicled it all on the blog. But so much has happened that I’ve decided to break it down into more ‘digestible’ chunks.

It all started this spring……and the annual wild onion harvest…. Vegetable fermentation had been on my back burner for several years. Michael Pollan’s chapter in Cooked still unread, a friend at my coop who said she’d show  me not yet called. A combination of wondering what to do with an immense pile of wild onion leaves, and my butcher’s first release of cultured veggies got my ball finally rolling on this.

I thought I’d start off with how fermentation works with vegetables and why these things are good for you. I’ll credit the sources as I go.

The fermentation process

All vegetables have small amounts of lactobacillus bacteria – among many others. Once exposed to water, they begin to feed on the sugars and starches on the vegetables, and do as all living things do: reproduce and excrete. In this case, they produce lactic acid and carbon dioxide. They are also very tolerant to salt – which is good, because the harmful bacteria which would lead to molds and spoilage, really can’t tolerate a high acid, high salt environment.

In making fermented vegetables,  you are either going to add a brine (2-5% salt per weight of water) or add salt (2-4% by vegetable weight) then massage and pack down the vegetables, ensuring they are fully covered in the brine juice, then leave them at room temperature for a few days. That’s it, basically.

But not quite – though you don’t need to do much else. In the fermentation process, 3 different species of lactobacillus eat, reproduce, release and finally die off. They succeed each other as the acid level rises and they can no longer live in that environment.The first lactobacillus that goes to work is Leuconostoc mesenteroides. Once it raises the acidity to .3% it dies off and in its place, Lactobacillus plantarum  carries acidity to 2%. Finally Lactobacillus brevis kicks in until its final acidity level of between 2.5%-3.4%. It would carry on fermenting and developing stronger and stronger tastes – so this is when it goes into the fridge to slow it all down to a more dormant state.

What happens when it hits your tummy: You are what you eat

Our stomachs – indeed our whole digestive system  – functions as a microbiome that is home to thousands of microbial species. Many of them are in the lactobacillus genus and are responsible for secreting chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine which affect our moods, appetite, sense of fullness and well being. Clearly what we introduce into our digestive biome is going to affect and alter it – for better or worse.

In the case of our fermented vegetables, its for the better. The lactobacillus interact with and complement the digestive work of our own bacteria – improving digestion, regulating mood, and generally getting our whole system in balance. Claims  have been made that fermented vegetables help with conditions such as diarrhea, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, colitis, food addictions, autism, and addictions.

The expert resources

This has been but a very brief layman’s overview, and does not truly do it justice. I would strongly recommend reading these sources for more detailed and expert information:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/wild-fermentation/how-vegetable-fermentation-works-/10151520254610369

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/03/fermenting-veggies-at-home-follow-food-safety-abcs/#.VdXW-vlVhBd

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-790-lactobacillus.aspx?activeingredientid=790&activeingredientname=lactobacillus

http://www.wildfermentation.com/whats-so-wild-about-fermentation/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/magazine/can-the-bacteria-in-your-gut-explain-your-mood.html?_r=1

Also check out the Wild Fermentation Facebook page – its very active and has a mine of information. https://www.facebook.com/groups/WlidFermentation/

And… Definitely buy Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation book

My thanks!

To a couple of market vendors who got me really rolling on this journey. These weren’t really long conversations – but enough to get my own internal fermentation going on this.

  • Cathy at http://www.countrymeadowmeats.com/ who rolled out her first cultured vegetables the same weekend I did my first go at fermented wild onion leaves. If you are up in Owen Sound – definitely visit them.
  • Dina who runs Mighty Fine Brine who turned me on to brined pickles, and to the wild fermentation facebook page!

The Food Chain

This is going to be one of those off the cuff blogs, quickly written, uploaded, and likely edited as time goes on and more ideas on the theme come along.

We usually think of the food chain as being the order that various critters in nature eat each other for their sustenance. Here its about what to do with food that gets left over. I’m not talking about how you take last night’s entre and reconstitute it for lunch the next day. I’m going beyond that.

I hope that readers can be inspired somewhat by this and contribute new ideas.

The sauce continuum

Begin with ….. roasted or BBQ vegetables. (BTW…. if you roast or BBQ veggies, stick a bulb of garlic in it. Put it in the fridge after, or use it – you will always have the essential ingredient for any ‘roast garlic….’ recipe). Back to the veggies: cut them up into quite small chunks. For every 200g or so add 5g salt, 35g vinegar, 200g tomato sauce/tomato paste (vary this to get the right consistency), herbs and spices: consider some of basil/oregano/thyme/ rosemary/cumin/mustard/hot pepper, that roasted garlic (to taste!), a handful of chopped olives. The result: a roast vegetable antipasto.

And next down the food chain? as in if the antipasto is not gobbled up in a day or 2? A sauce! Begin by pureeing what is left of the antipasto. Taste and consider its viscosity. The aim is to make a sauce that pours slowly but surely out of a narrow necked bottle. If anything it will be too thick. Here’s where you can have some fun. Get a vision of the kind of sauce you want to pour over a burger, on a sandwich, as a marinade over chicken or steak. Just keep in mind that you can add but you can’t remove. Here are the parameters to consider:

  • Salt – always a good one to begin with, and also one that can be overdone.
  • Vinegar – consider the type of vinegar, and only use a little at a time. Lemon/lime is part of the vinegar parameter
  • Heat – hot peppers, cayenne, hot sauce
  • Garlic – you likely already have this – do you want more?
  • Tomato: Since the antipasto had a tomato base, by definition its going to be a tomato based sauce. If you like the amount of tomato in the taste, and the vinegar continuum is right, but the sauce needs diluting,  then add water. If it can take more tomato then add tomato sauce. If it needs thickening, then tomato paste.

Finally  – choose a bottle. The food industry does an absolutely stellar job of inventing just the right size and shape of container for their products. So save a few glass sauce bottles for your own DIY stuff. Make sure it pours just right – bottle and label, in the fridge it goes. Whereas your original entre dish would be a science experiment after a week, the transformations, including the addition of vinegars and salts, mean that the resulting delicious sauce will be happy and likely used up over the next 2-3 weeks.

The sourdough continuum

All sourdough makers are aware of keeping their starter beefed up and active for the holy grail of sourdough – that perfect loaf of bread. Inevitably some starter is poured off. But instead of composting this, put it in a jar and pop it into the fridge. Here are some beginning ideas on what to do with this leftover starter.

Crackers:

Essentially cracker dough is a 60% hydration dough of flour, liquid (including up to 20% oil), 3-5% salt, and dry flavoring. The dough is rolled out – for super thin crackers, use a pasta roller. For the sourdough version the starter is used in part of the dough. Check my hydration table to help create your own sourdough crackers.

Pancakes

Pancakes are an easy way to use up starter. Although the starter helps the leavening, the main leavening comes with the addition of eggs and baking powder. Essentially the pancake mix is a very wet – 200% or so hydration mix of flour, liquid, eggs, oil, salt, sugar, and leaveners – baking soda/powder. I’ll refer you to Theresa Greenaway’s Discovering Sourdough  – my absolute authority on sourdough – for the original recipe. My hydration table (link still to come) functions as a kind of app that will guide you to making bigger or smaller amounts of mix.

Scones and hotcakes

I’ll refer you here again to  Theresa Greenaway’s Discovering Sourdough  book 1 which has lots of great hotcake recipes that can be done with leftover starter.

That’s it for now…… if you have other creative ideas for the ‘food chain’ please share them!

Burns

Marmalade

Note: this is a reblog – I did it a year ago (2014), but this year I found a tweak that really helps things…..

I am inspired to  make marmalade.

I’ve resisted so far – its not exactly the healthiest jam out there – 9 lbs of sugar to 2 lbs of Seville oranges in the 1906 Reliable Cookery book.

Marmalade recipe  - Lawrie

A few weeks ago, Laura (Cottage Country North jams) came out with a whiskey marmalade that was truly wonderful. Traditional, yet the whiskey added wonderful body and complexity to it. That was one thing. It got me thinking about it.

Next, I was in at my food coop and saw they have Seville oranges! Ok. That did it.

But if I was going to do this, I was going to do it traditionally.  I was, however, not going to get myself into the bother that I remember my dad having, with huge muslin bags and the like. (Of course down below you will see that I was delighted to find I had such a bag.)

Next – a recipe: the one above is one option. I like the soak for a day part. I can see that as being like a slow soup. But what happens to the skins?

Lets fast forward to the present and see what the internet offers up: first – http://www.ladlesandjellyspoons.com/2012/01/my-best-traditional-marmalade-recipe/ a blogger who seems to have gone through a similar process I am now going through.

First on the google search is this one: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/preserve/traditional-seville-orange-marmalade.html If I do this I will double it.

This too is interesting: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/4449033/A-more-traditional-marmalade-recipe.html

Finally a book I have around “Jams and Preserves” by Gina Steer: It also has the cheesecloth bag but more orange and less sugar than the old recipe.

I’ve sufficient jars for 4 litres of product.

Jan 22 2014:

I have now slotted the 5 recipes onto a spreadsheet to compare them. I’ve converted everything to a gram weight, as I want to see how the ratios differ one to the other.

Here is an image of my table for the 5 recipes:

oranges seville G 900 1 2000 1.0 908 1 908 1 1543 1
lemons G 0 0.0 680 0.3 170 0.2 340 0.4 340 0.2
other 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 400 0.4 0 0.0
water L 3000 3.3 4000 2.0 2250 2.5 3420 3.8 6000 3.9
sugar 1800 2.0 2725 1.4 1815 2.0 4086 4.5 2724 1.8
total weight before boiling 5700 9405 5143 9154 10607

They really are quite different – both in ratio (sugar to fruit) and in process – though all have a muslin bag for pips & pectin, all dissolve the sugar before it boils, all reduce the syrup, none use pectin beyond the natural pectin in the seeds, all have the same test for doneness. Canning in a water bath does not seem to be required either.

First lets deal with the proportion ratios. These go from oranges:sugar – 1:1.4 to 1:4.5. Taking the outliers out the range is between 1.8 – 2.0. I think I will settle for a ratio of 1 part seville orange to 2 parts sugar.

For the water, the ratios range from between 1:2 (orange to water) to 1:3.9. One of them says “enough water to cover them.” I’m inclined to go with a ratio of 2.5 parts water to one of oranges. One of the recipes    – http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/preserve/traditional-seville-orange-marmalade.html uses this and also the 2:1 ratio. Its also the most detailed.  It also uses 1 lemon so I will try this too.

Looking at how many oranges I got, I should get about 8 litres! Yikes! (I’ve tried to account for the water being boiled away by a factor of a half, and that sugar shrinks considerably in volume.

Well  – lets be optimistic: 2l regular, 2l whisky, 2l brandy 2l….???? At least I ought to get more jars.

Next consideration: the fruit preparation. In all cases, the skin and pits are separated from the juice. I think on second thought, I will just do half the oranges. I’ll do a separate batch and hopefully learn from the first.

OK  – lets do this!!

So first…. quarter and peel the oranges – there are about 7 of them – 1480 grams.

Here’s the big 2015 tweak: Use a juicer – something that separates juice from the seeds and fiber. I still peeled the oranges though. 

Set up a bowl for peels and seeds, and a bowl for juice.

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Next, I used the shredding blade on the food processor to shred the peels. These pics are from the first batch. For my second batch I just cut the peels into big chunks and threw them in the bag.  In the end, I do not believe it is necessary to even separate the seeds from the pulp. It can all go in the same bag. Cutting them into big chunks makes it easy to control for the amount and thickness of the pulp shards you put in the final product.

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The juice was blended. Blending is important. It breaks up the more fibrous parts of the meat giving a silkier texture in the jam. IMG-20140122-00192

I found a great cheesecloth sleeve, tied one end of it and put all the peels in it. In a separate bag I put all the seeds.IMG-20140122-00194

Then I added the water  – 2.5 the weight of the oranges.

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Now a long simmer without the sugar. It was something of an error in timing but what happened at this stage was that I had it on this long simmer for about 10 hours. It was NOT boiling  – there seemed to be very little activity, but at the end of the 10 hours, it had reduced considerably and I realized – “this is it!” IMG-20140122-00196

The idea of a very long slow barely simmer is mine. Partly in error, partly inspiration from the recipe advising it be soaked. Although its the only way I have tried it, I believe this is the reason that the final result is so wonderfully deep dark and complex.

The Fast Boil and reaching the sweet ‘set point’

Now time for the final boil and jarring. First step: remove the bags from the soup and squeeze out every last bit of juice. Next add the sugar.  My research suggested I use twice the weight of sugar per weight of whole oranges. So in that went. Now here is an important point. The sugar has to completely dissolve before the fast boil starts. So put the burner on low, stir it around until the sugar dissolves, and then…  and all recipes agree this is where you do a fast boil.

As it was boiling I checked the bag of skins as I wanted to get little shards of pulp to add texture to the final product. I did not want too much – just enough to announce their presence.

The marmalade has to boil until it reaches its set point. To ascertain this, take a plate and after about 10-15 minutes of fast boiling, put a spoonful on the plate. Drag the spoon through it and observe what happens. If the jam closes around the spoon, its not set. If it crinkles up and does not close the track the spoon makes, its at its set point, and can be placed in jars. A further 2015 refinement: use a candy thermometer. It should be at about 220 to set if you have done everything else. IMG-20140124-00200 IMG-20140123-00198 

Making a flavored marmalade.

The final part in the process was the flavorings. I had earlier said I was initially excited about making this after tasting ‘Whiskey Jack’ marmalade. I also know from my other cooking adventures that often the taste you want to highlight in a recipe is added right at the end, otherwise it gets lost, especially in a long slow cook. Besides, its a lot easier to have one big batch all the same and siphon of smaller quantities for their special treatment.

So I went to the cupboard to see what struck my fancy: In addition to plain, ‘no extras’ ‘old fashioned’ marmalade, I decided to do scotch, bourbon, Grand Marnier, Tequila and ginger. But how much? I wanted enough so that it added body and complexity, yet not enough that the liquor could be tasted. Using a 500ml measuring cup, I scooped out half a litre, poured it in another pot, and added 50ml of whatever liquor, giving me a 10% mix. Tasted it. In the case of the scotch, it was too strong, so I added another 250ml of marmalade resulting in a 7.5% mix. Much better. In the end, the Tequila and Grand Marnier worked out well at 10%, while the scotch, and bourbon worked better at 7.5%.IMG-20140124-00199

As for the ginger, I made up a ginger syrup: a big chunk of thin sliced ginger, a couple pf pinches of salt, 2-3 heaping spoons of sugar. Let it sit for a couple of hours (yes this is to be done well ahead of the final boil!) until it yields a dark, sweet highly potent ginger syrup.

Canning

As for canning them, I did boil the jars, but I have not canned them. That amount of sugar is more likely to turn them to alcohol than to mold. Besides, I’ve had many a jar of what my parents used to make months after it had been opened, and it was all fine.  Many recipes suggest wax disks poured on top once they are cooled. The idea is to keep air from interacting. I will take my chances  – you do what you feel is best!

The final recipe:

Ingredients

Seville oranges (weight =y) Seville oranges weigh approximately 200g each. The final quantity of marmalade will be approximately 2.5 times in volume what the oranges weight in kilos. Thus for a 1.2 kilo weight of oranges (6 oranges), I made over 3L of marmalade.

Water (weight = 2.5y)

Sugar (weight= 2y)

Method:

  1. Peel the oranges, and separate seeds and peel from the juice. Cut the peel into big chunks.
  2. Place the seeds and peel in a cheesecloth bag.
  3. fill a large pot (10 litre pot for about 6 oranges is good) with the juices, orange meat, and water. Tie the cheesecloth bag inside the pot so it is infusing in the juice. Set on a stovetop at the lowest possible heat, with NO lid, overnight (or all  day).
  4. Once the stew has reduced by 1/3-1/2, turn it off and let it cool down for a few hours.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare your jars. My preference is the 125ml and 250ml sizes. Either boil them or heat them in a 350 degree oven.
  6. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the cheesecloth bag into the juice.
  7. Add the sugar, turn the heat to low and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Turn the heat to medium high. stir constantly, adjusting heat, stirring so it does not boil over. Take a plate and test for the set point every 10 minutes or so. Let the jam cool on the plate, then run the tip of your spoon through it. It is ‘set’ when the skin crinkles, and it does not backfill the track made by the spoon.
  8. Flavoring: your choice! Start at 10% (50ml flavour to 500ml marmalade). Once it is right, bring to a boil for a few seconds, take it off the boil and jar it.

Enjoy!

BBQ red pepper jelly

Red Pepper Jelly 2013

I know when its time. Organic red peppers are in my food coop. They are $11/kilo – enough to make me wonder if the price point is too much, but they are beautiful. Big, heavy, juicy – they will make amazing jelly.

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I‘ve been working on this recipe for a couple of years now. Last year I just bbq’d them  – that was it. This year I am really playing with it – adding in smoked, and fresh (uncooked) slices into the mix – sort of like a pickle.

I feel as if I am still working on it. Between last year and this year I have become more aware of the effect of different vinegary acids  – wine, apple cider vinegar  – and how these mix with regular vinegar in a chutney or jelly. I’ve also been playing with the points at which one introduces a flavour into the mix.

Vinegar mix tasters

In exploring this relationship between different types of vinegars, and following on from a couple of earlier blogs this month, I’ve set myself up with a variety of taster bottles. The idea of these is that I can sample a variety of vinegar combinations ahead of time to see which might be best for the particular chutney/jelly I’m working on. Sugar is a constant – 100g per bottle – and the vinegar/wine  is added so there is 100g vinegar/whatever and 100g sugar in each taster. As of yesterday I now have 6 of these: white wine vinegar in 90/10, 75/25, 65/35 and 50/50; red wine vinegar 50/50 and apple cider vinegar 50/50. I’ll be putting more of the red wine and apple cider together shortly. Last year I tried 50/50 apple cider vinegar/white vinegar. This year I wound up using a 50/50 red wine mix – though in truth I didn’t quite have enough red wine so it was augmented with apple cider vinegar.

I used these tasters to figure my vinegar mix for this.

I used these tasters to figure my vinegar mix for this.

The basic mix

Here is the basic mix of this recipe:The weight of peppers is ‘1’.

  • Peppers and other ingredients: 1 (PLEASE NOTE: weigh the peppers for their ratio AFTER they have been processed!)
  • total vinegar:1
  • Sugar:1
  • salt 5%.
  • Other flavorings to taste.
  • In terms of the final total quantity, multiply the ‘1’ ratio  – however much it is – by 2.74 to determine the final volume of the whole batch. So, if you have 1 kilo of peppers and other ingredients, you will get 2.74L of final product.

Ingredients

This is for a 1kg final weight of peppers/garlic/onion. Adjust as needed.

  • 1kg total weight that includes BBQ’d red peppers, 1 roasted bulb of garlic, 1 roasted small – medium onion.
  • 500ml red wine
  • 500 ml white vinegar
  • 1kg brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinamon
  • 4 tsp corriander (Next year I would toast the whole seed, then crack them open so they appear as corriander chunks.)
  • 50g salt
  • Hot stuff: 4 tsp chillis/hot pickled peppers/cayenne to taste for hotness
  • Thickener: Although I used agar-agar yesterday, I would likely use Certo in the future, now that I have a better sense of this recipe. With Agar, you can make up the whole mix first; with Certo, you mix in the sugar near the end.

Method

  1. Sort out peppers: keep one to julienne fresh, one to dry, the rest cut in half – try 1/3 of them to be smoked 2/3 roasted on bbq.
  2. Chop a fresh pepper into quite small ‘not quite diced’ pieces. (at least this is what I would do next year. This year I julienned them thin in the food processor, and they do not have that fresh crunch I was hoping for)
  3. Cut peppers in half & coat in olive oil, & herb mixture (coated in oil with salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, basil, cumin) 270271
  4. BBQ: Have a spritzer bottle of water ready! Use 2/3 of the coated peppers. Set up the BBQ smoker ( a small metal box with wood chips) under your grill. Fire the BBQ, and once hot, cook the 2/3 batch of peppers, a whole garlic bulb and the medium onion. These should be cooked before the smoker ignites and starts to smoke. Remove them from the bbq.  273
  5. When the BBQ reaches 450-500, place the 1/3 batch of pepper halves inside-down above the smoker.   Once the smoker starts to go (the wood chips are smoking) turn off the bbq. If it flames, spritz it. Leave the smoked peppers in the covered bbq for a couple of minutes until cooked, but not charred. (Hint to manufacturers: would be cool to have see through bbq lids! )274
  6. Peel the roasted garlic and onion
  7. Weigh the total pepper mix (bbq, smoked, fresh,) to establish your ‘1’ for the vinegar/sugar/salt syrop
  8. Puree 3/4 of the bbq/smoked peppers, the garlic and the onion and pour in your cooking pot.276
  9. Fine chop the rest of the peppers. You should now have a bowl of fresh peppers, a bowl of roasted pepper pieces, and a mash of roasted red pepper, garlic and onion.
  10. Boil 11-12 250 ml jars (based on the 2.74 factor noted earlier; put lids in colander to boil also.
  11. Add sugar (read pectin directions first – you may need to add this later), wine, vinegar, cinnamon, coriander, hot pepper and salt to the mash275
  12. Mise en scene at this point: syrup mix on the stove or bbq, bbq/smoked chopped peppers, julienned fresh peppers,   pectin,   250 ml jars in a  canning pot,  lids in a colander, canning tongs, oven mitts/dry cloths.
  13. Bring liquid mix to a boil
  14. Remove jars from hot water (or oven if you use this method)
  15. Distribute bbq/smoked peppers into jars277
  16. Spoon in fresh peppers
  17. Add pectin following pectin directions
  18. Pour syrup over peppers and place the lids on
  19. Can for 10 minutes

Utensils needed

canning tongs
Pot for jars
Colander
Pot for sauce
Stirring spoon
oven mits
Bread board
Paring knife
Measuring spoons
Weigh scale
Jars and lids
Utensils
Small bowll
Measuring cups

Where to go from here

Next year I would make the following changes:

  • toast and crack the coriander, and perhaps reduce the amount
  • try a 75/25 red wine vinegar combination. I feel this version needs more calming, more body.
  • use Certo – as I’m sure about the sugar/vinegar ratio now
  • use half the amount of garlic, but crush it fresh into the jars before they are filled.