Category: Seasonal Cooking
I’m thinking jam. Tis the season with the berries and stone fruits harvesting.
We have become very accustomed to fruits available all the year round, but you will find they have nowhere near the same level of flavour. Fruits are fleeting, lasting only a few weeks, but there is a way to capture that moment — jam. But not jam as you might know it, but a spoonful of deliciousness that tastes like the fruit it is, with just enough sweetness to bring out it’s full flavour. A snapshot of the season in a jar. Now I am often asked can you make jam with something other than sugar, or less sugar and the answer is complex, and included below. So here it all is – as Wholefood Baking is currently out of print, I’ve put the recipe here for you. I promise you that once you know the hows, it’s very easy. But there are rules….
The only fruit to use is that which is ripe, preferably organic and in season. Fruits such as this are bursting with natural sweetness, colour with enormous complexity and luscious flavour. The jam (it’s a universal recipe) here relies less on sugar, and more so on technique to capture the true complexity and glory of fruit flavour — it is a snapshot of the fruit at its best and the season. Jams are very easy to make, and will store in the pantry for up to one year. On a cold winter’s day, when you take that batch of scones out of the oven, you will thank yourself for your stash of homemade jams and the colour and taste of summer will lift your spirits.
Technically, the object of preserving is to slow down the process of decay. Food spoils from the continued activity of natural enzymes in all fruits and vegetables and the continued work of microorganisms in the form of moulds, yeasts and bacteria present in the food and air.
SUGAR, PECTIN AND ACID
Jam relies on sugar to saturate the natural moisture of the fruit and thus preserve it. I am often asked if something other than sugar can be used to make jam — the answer is complex. Many of the sugar-free jams you see are made with white grape juice concentrate, use pectin and have been processed in a boiling-water bath. Because there is not enough sucrose to saturate the fruit and preserve it (and this is true of many other non-sucrose based sweeteners, such as stevia, agave and brown rice syrup), the boiling-water bath is the preserving method. I prefer to use one of the semi-refined organic raw sugars (not rapadura, which is too low in sucrose and too strong in flavour)( I like to use the Billingtons Golden Castor Sugar) in the smallest possible amount, this allows the glorious flavour of the fruit to shine through. Most jam recipes call for equal quantities of sugar to fruit by weight. You need about 60–70 per cent sugar for good gelling to occur naturally (sugar, pectin, acidity). I find this way too much sugar and prefer a ratio of 20–40 per cent sugar to fruit, but this will vary with the fruit — tart fruit will require more, and sweet fruit will require less. Because the holy trinity of sugar, pectin and acid is disrupted, this will result in a softer ‘set’, which I happen to prefer.
Pectin is a carbohydrate that helps to ‘set’ jam. It is particularly concentrated in the skins and cores of fruit. The conversion of the pre-curser substances to pectin occurs naturally during ripening but can also be forced by long cooking, as in the traditional methods of making jam without added pectin. Fruits vary in how much pectin, or pectin pre-cursers, they contain. Pectin produces structure and a kind of stiffness in jam by forming a water-holding network within the crushed fruit. Before gelling starts, individual molecules of pectin are surrounded and isolated from each other by water molecules. If the surrounding solution is acidic enough, the pectin loses some of its attraction for these isolating water molecules. Sour fruit will normally provide enough acid to take care of this step. If the acid content of the fruit is low, lemon juice can be added to make the fruit mixture more acidic. Once the pectin has loosened its hold on the water molecules, something more attractive must pull the water away from the pectin — this is the role of sugar. With its water stripped away, pectin opens out into a structure that links readily with other pectin molecules to form a three- dimensional network — a gel.
Fruits with high natural pectin and acid content include: blackberries + crab apples + cranberries + plums+ quinces+ sour apples
Fruits with low natural pectin and acid content include: apricots+ blueberries + figs+ grapes+ guava+ peaches+ pears+ prunes+ raspberries + rhubarb+ strawberries
Low-pectin fruits benefit from the addition of lemon, to boost the acidity and thus setting. Unripe fruit (sour) will also increase acidity. Jam is best made with a good percentage of fruit that is not overripe because as the fruit ripens, the pectin breaks down and you will not get a good set.
PICK THE RIGHT POT
The right pot is critical to making low-sugar jam, I cannot stress this enough. Mine is a traditional French copper preserving pan that is shallow and wide. It’s about 12 cm (41⁄2 inches) high, 36 cm (141⁄4 inches) across the base and 39 cm (151⁄2 inches) across the top, with a 10 litre (350 fl oz) capacity. The wide surface area encourages evaporation and reduction, thus cooking the jam quickly. It is extremely difficult to make jam in a deep pot with a small surface area — tall pans are a major cause of runny jam.
However, you can make smaller amounts in your average large domestic saucepan. You can use a simple stainless steel pan — just make sure it is not too deep. A wider and more shallow pan with less capacity (for example, a sauté pan with a 5 litre/ 175 fl oz capacity and a depth of 8 cm/31⁄4 inches) is better than a pot with a 10 litre/350 fl oz capacity, but a depth of 16–18 cm (61⁄4–7 inches), or even a frypan with a large shallow surface area. It will mean you can only make small amounts at a time — about 2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) of fruit, but your jam will be more successful. You can also use a 20–24 cm (8–91⁄2 inch) typical domestic saucepan, but keep the amount of fruit to 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz).
Never make jam in large quantities — another cause of runny jam — and never crowd your pan. How much fruit you use (the weight) will depend on the size of your pan — for mine, I use 4 kg (9 lb). A good guide is to only fill your pan two-thirds full of fruit.
JARS AND LIDS
Always use tempered jars that can withstand the temperatures involved in sterilising, jam-making and storage. Some jars manufactured for products such as coffee, peanut butter and mayonnaise are not tempered and do not have strong seals on the lids. Jars must not be cracked, chipped or damaged in any way, and lids must not be scratched or dented. Jars can be re-used, but lids are good for one use only.
STERILISING YOUR EQUIPMENT
Your jars, lids, ladles and funnels must all be sterilised. This is easy to do in an oven at 120°C (235°F/Gas 1⁄2) for 20 minutes. Jars and lids must be sterilised, dry and warm. Once sterilised, turn the oven off and leave in the warm oven until the jam is ready. Equipment can also be boiled for 12 minutes in a large saucepan of water, then dried in the oven at a low temperature.
PUTTING THE JAM INTO JARS
Bottling technique is the other very important part of making low-sugar jams — the jam must be spooned with a sterilised ladle through a sterilised funnel into warm jars (as hot jam into cool or cold jars will cause the jars to break) as soon as it is ready. Make sure the sterilised jars are warm (from sterilising and then being kept warm in the oven) and sit them on a wooden surface or on towels (so they don’t crack when the hot jam is added). This process will ensure the jars seal properly and that the jam does not spoil.
After ladling the jam into the jars, make sure there is no spillage as this will hinder a seal being formed. Gently wipe any spillage, taking care not to touch the sterilised lip of the jar. Place the lids on, taking care to touch only the outside of the lids. Holding the jars with a damp cloth (for a good grip), turn the lids until firm.
Let the jars sit until fully cool — do not move them for 12 hours or you can disrupt the vacuum process. A concave dip in the middle of the lid indicates a vacuum seal. If there is no concave dip, store the jam in the fridge and use straight away.
Once opened and the seal is broken, the jam begins to deteriorate and must be kept in the fridge.
The beautiful photo at the top of this post is ©Cath Muscat and all copy is ©Jude Blereau and Murdoch Books, and taken from Wholefood Baking. Published by Murdoch Books, 2013.
“What on earth is Jude talking about” ? I hear you ask… well a shrub is kinda like an old fashioned cordial, only it’s vinegar based (which preserves it). I love them, and last Christmas I started trying them out and feel pretty confident to tell you how I did it. It’s going to take about 2 weeks, so perfectly in time for Christmas. I just picked up those babies above the other day on my way home… seconds.
The Poole china…well, this year Christmas will be in my new home, with all the family coming. I’m setting the table (part of it will be a trestle table) and I thought to myself, I would love, love to use Mum’s glorious green Poole china. I warn you I may shed a tear as I write this, i’m a bit emotional at the moment… the stopping after a huge and massive year, and it doesn’t take much to get me crying. Mum is 96 and still lives at home, independently, still cooking but absolutely not as capable as she once was. She is at the pointy end of the stick in life, and wanting to move things out of the home to people. The Poole china was to go to me, and I asked mum the other day if I could use it for Christmas. Well, this week I packed it into boxes with mum watching and bought it home. “Check if there is anything else in the cupboard” she said, so i did, and there was – beautiful Kosta Boda glass bowls, stunning glass bowl… “take them too”. My mum has never had a lot, but what she had was beautiful – she has spectacular taste. And here was I packing them to leave her home forever, she was passing this onto me, preparing to know that this part of her life, and indeed her life was coming to it’s close. My mum has always been there for me, when i hated her, yelled at her, left her, she has loved and supported me no matter what. What value of a mother ? It’s everything. So that’s the Poole china. This Christmas, no matter where you mum is, give thanks to her for without our mums, who would we be?
So recipe below… it’s super easy and I hope you enjoy it. I haven’t given you a finished photo of the shrub because mine is still in the making, but if you look around the internet you will see them – THIS pic is gorgeous and will give you the idea. What I also do, when the shrub is finished is use the discarded peach (all sweet and vinegared up) to make peach chutney. Now, if you are looking for more Christmas ideas (like Marshmallow, Gingerbread House and goodness knows what, you can find them HERE. OR, you can just go to the blog and hit Christmas and have a look through.
May your days be merry and bright as we lead into this most special time of the year…
Hello there !!
Yes, I know – a long time between posts. I have to tell you honestly, that how much can we do ? Has this been an extraordinarily busy year for you too ? I just checked and my last blog post was in July ! I can’t tell you where that time went, but most likely into trips to the East Coast (Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast) for classes, talks and book launches. Oh my goodness. Then home finally to settle into my new house, and actually make it home (I still haven’t photo’s, but are working on that). Between settling in and unpacking, I have been down to Albany for the Food for Thought Festival, and Margaret River for classes and talks, and am now currently running a 4 week intensive – a kind of mini Whole and Natural Foods Chef Training Program (as I couldn’t run the full program in this crazy, busy year). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not whinging, and I love what I do, but certainly thinking that it seems that we are all being asked to just do so much more, and there is only so much more we can do. Somedays to be honest, social media is just a step to far. So, right now as the year comes to a close, and I’m super busy, I am making sure I walk in the cool, very early morning and smell the earth, listen to the birds, and connect deeply to why I do what I do,so that I can remember when you and I connected (perhaps it was on the Sunshine Coast at the book launch, or in Sydney in class, or in Perth when i saw you at the farmers market) so it doesn’t just become work, and so that I can – in all the working – also just be me. I do hope you are taking some time for you, and sometimes, just saying no to too much. x Jude
But for now, we did Barley, Asparagus Risotto in class the other day and it’s such a simple, easy dish that I thought you might enjoy it. Everything is in season right now, so it’s a great choice.
As the year finishes, I do have a couple of treats in – store for you.
- For those who couldn’t get into the free The Week Before Christmas class (or aren’t in Perth), I am running a free webinar – no date just yet, so stay tuned. It will be all about being organised with delicious food so that busy week before Christmas is so much easier, and more delicious.
- I have 1 set of all my books (yes, including Wholefood Baking) to give away. Stay tuned for that competition shortly. You will need to be subscribed to the newsletter to be in this competition.
- Many of you ask about Wholefood Baking, and truly it’s a crazy story. It sold out, won awards, yet Murdoch have not re printed… but I think (think) a reprint is in the works. Ebooks are available.
- I have copies of all books (other than Wholefood Baking), ready to wrap and send to you for Christmas Presents. My elves are at the ready to wrap and post (and I will sign of course). Postage for 1 = $10.00, Postage for 2 = $15 Postage for 3 = $15, Postage for 4 = $20.00 (Australia only) All $AUD Just email me your order to firstname.lastname@example.org
- WHOLEFOOD heal – nourish – delight | this is my first book at a special price for you now of $30.00 (normally $50.00)
- COMING HOME TO EAT (Wholefood for the Family) | my second book, and whilst I love all of books, this book has some of my much loved family favourites. Must cook – Mango, Cashew Chicken. Oh, and Lemon Coconut Teacake – both wonderful for summer, and easy. ($30.00 normally $40.00)
- WHOLEFOOD FOR CHILDREN – Nourishing young children with whole and organic food | my third book, and wonderful for anybody also with a dodgy tummy or gut as the principles are the same. This is also great family food. $45.00
- WHOLE FOOD FROM THE GROUND UP | my latest baby – released in June this year. I am incredibly proud of this book (well all my books) but I can tell you, this has my most up to date, wholistic information – I see a better and more whole lay of the land so to speak, with many absolutely delicious, and not difficult recipes. $40.00
This is an old recipe, from Wholefood For Family (Coming Home to Eat), but one of my favourites. I thought it time to bring it out again – it’s super quick, vegetarian, gluten and dairy free but mostly, it’s delicious. This isn’t going to be a long blog, I’m just back at home for a week after 3 weeks on the east coast launching my new book (Wholefood From The Ground Up + classes, and I’m heading back east next week for another round. So a quick delicious meal is just what the doctor ordered, with the citrus highlights brightening up a cold winter day. Give it a try, I know you will love it. All these beautiful photos are ©Harriet Harcourt
Tempeh is one of the best ways to have soy – fermentation delivers many benefits to the soy bean, making it much more digestible. It’s also delicious. And, if you are just a bit wary of soy, both my favourite brands (below) do alternative legume tempeh options. Just a couple of things in regards to tempeh. If possible buy your tempeh uncooked… this will be softer and thicker and you may well need to cut it into half to make it thinner – this is my favourite brand but it has limited availability around Australia. In Western Australia I like this brand, when i can get it. When you look at both of these products, you can see the thick white mycellium (that white fuzz that you can see) and the obvious thickness of the tempeh itself … it may be once you fry them, you may need more sauce as this kind of tempeh will absorb it. Cooked tempeh doesn’t have such an obvious mycellium (in West Australia if I can’t get the ones above, I buy the Tally Ho. And be choosy about your brand..some are shocking (Nutrasoy is one such example). The recipe below has been made with the biodynamic Tally Ho natural tempeh.
Fry your tempeh – I like coconut oil for this.
When golden, pour in the sauce
Oops, I forgot to put the ginger juice in the sauce, so I’m doing it straight into the pan
Cook until it’s a thick syrup, glazing the tempeh
How good does that look ?? !!!!
I served it with brown rice, bok choy and coriander…
OOh and a little reminder that I’m back in Brisbane for my 4 day flagship program Wholefood From The Ground Up next week (15th, 16th, 17th and 18th July) and on the Sunshine Coast for Launch and classes Meals For Everyday and Surviving the Busy Days 22nd, 23 and 24th July… there are a few spots left in all, just email me for further details if you’re interested – email@example.com ( I also have events coming up at Wray Organics, Avid Reader and Riverbend Books – I will be posting these on the events page of the website. I’d love to see you there… x Jude
This recipe is a bit of an out take from my new book WHOLEFOOD From the Ground Up (which I can excitedly say, is out 1st June). It was one of the very first recipes I toyed with and it evolved on to become something else, but I wanted to see it come to realization. I do love a nice, deeply flavoured and toothsome vegetarian pattie (too many are just mushy) to put in a burger, or just as happy without. This pattie follows the path of one of my favourite principles – try and be prepared for the week, cook a pot of grain (in this case hulled millet) and cook a pot of legumes (in this case green lentils), to use in any number of ways – but here, as the smoky beetroot burger. I’m writing this up for the Easter break as I think it would make a perfect lunch, or dinner over this most wonderful break.
There are a few things I need to tell you about this recipe. These are really quite quick to throw together, especially if you have lentils already cooked. I would suggest you cook the millet (and make extra if you would like for another use) just before you need it – the warmth will make it a little stickier, which is helpful here (you will have a little left over, but it’s far easier to get the liquid ratio perfect with 1/2 cup millet, so use it for a stuffing, or a salad !). Also, the lentils need to be well cooked – once drained, it will help the whole sticking together thing if they are mashed just a little bit. In the end however, they will stay together, no matter how unlikely you think that will be – the 2 eggs will do the trick. I also absolutely recommend that you soak your millet and lentils (this will make them more digestible), but if you forget or run out of time, cooking them in a bone stock such as chicken will buffer any nutrient losses, and make digestion just that bit easier. Also – the smoked paprika. I can tell you that all smoked paprika’s are not equal. Many of them can be quite bitter, especially when you have to add a fair bit to get a good smoky flavour. I use one that is a dulce (sweet) smoked paprika, and in Perth, Western Australia this is the brand I use. And a word in regards to the miso – both shiro (white) or chickpea are fine, and in Australia I have a preference for this brand (though, to be fair it is only available in limited places, and only on the east coast), otherwise this brand.
I’ve served it here with great organic, wood fired sourdough that has been grilled, avocado, and homemade sweet chilli and sultana sauce. The greens you see there are the beetroot greens, but take note beetroot (especially the greens) are a high oxalic acid food. Heat breaks down oxalates, so I have cooked them gently in a little ghee – this way you will get all their goodies. Pile it all on the bread, slather it and it’s a hearty and delicious meal. A bit of goat curd would not go astray. And, finally if you are after a cake for the (hopefully) cooler Autumn weather over easter, can I suggest this Walnut and Yoghurt Cake. It’s an old post, so not brilliant photos, but I can guarantee, the cake is very good.
Wishing you all a restful, safe and heartfelt Easter… x jude
All photography ©Harriet Harcourt
Hello !!! Are you as busy as I am right now, finishing off jobs before Christmas (for me that is putting the new book to bed – going through last pages, checking it twice – and getting my new online tax system finished, making sure my builders are going to get the roof on my new house before Christmas to avoid delays in the new year, thank you notes)….. ? I’ve tidied up the blog a bit (but really it needs a lot more tidying up – as does my garden) and have rounded up some recipes that are 1) Christmas and 2) are great for this time of the year. Please bear in mind, some of these recipes are old (but not bad) and have not imported into the new website beautifully – and, I’m a bit better photographer than before (not a lot, but a bit!) They are still favourites.. especially the puff pastry. I’ll have a new post up next week for a easy, dairy + gluten free + vegan dessert – one of my favourites.
Till then… x jude
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