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…
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org ( 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 little baby has been in my head for sometime as a distant image – I kinda knew what I wanted, but didn’t have time to work it out and thus it missed going into the new book. So you are getting it for Christmas dear reader. As I began to slow down last week, I finally could see (in my mind) how to go about this recipe. As it happened I had a play date set with my gorgeous friend Emma Galloway (My Darling Lemon Thyme) as a chance for us to really catch up before she heads back home to New Zealand. What a truly beautiful soul is Emma – and talented. Given photography is not my strength, and it most certainly is Emma’s, I asked her if she would mind bringing her camera and take some shots. These gorgeous shots you see here are hers, and the making of it was a joint effort :) Needless to say, we did not stop talking from the second she arrived to the second she left. Thank you for the beautiful photos Emm!
It’s very easy, gluten and dairy free. Now I say that not because I think gluten and dairy free means something is wholesome and healthy, but because I like my sweetness a little less rich and lighter when the weather is 40c (as it is want to be on a Perth Christmas Day). For those of you that follow my work, you will see it’s pedigree in the Vanilla Bean Almond Cream and Creamy Cocoa Butter and Vanilla Frosting from Wholefood Baking. Just a couple of things:
- You will need to soak the almonds for the milk overnight to make the almond and coconut milk (and please don’t be tempted to use tetrapak almond milk, it will be watery and not nice. You can however make the almond and coconut milk the day before, so you are ready to go the next day.
- You will really only need about 3/4 of the chocolate biscuit base, but I’m too tired to work that out. I would make it up, and perhaps make little tartlets with the left over !
- This really is best eaten the day it is made -it will also look it’s best. I know that’s not optimal for Christmas, but you could have the milk made, and the strawberry juice made and it really doesn’t take that long to put together.
- Use a good vanilla – I like Heilala
- Dont use a generic agar powder, go to a Natural or Wholefoods store and buy it there. Two good brands are Honest to Goodness or Lotus
- If you are wondering about kudzu, you can find it here (in Australia) here in the U.S
I’d like to ask you something here though… enjoy this recipe and I would love you to share it but please respect the copyright of both myself and Emma. There’s a lot of craziness going on in the blogging and instagram world. I (and others I know) will now often see a recipe that is mine (or theirs) directly posted with no acknowledgement, or a few small changes with no nod to it’s source. I would ask that you please respect this.
It’s been a big year for me, with lots of blessings and challenges. I didn’t run the Whole and Natural Foods Chef Training Program this year as I was exhausted, and with a book to finish. That new book is just about put to bed, my family are well, I am loved and supported by that wonderful family and true friends, I have wonderful neighbours, I’m finally able to own my home and am building, I’ve been doing public classes again and I have the absolute blessing of doing work I love – and I hope, making a positive difference. I got the flu badly (twice), I didn’t balance work and rest too well and I’ve learnt a lot of about false friendships and those that are true – lessons are blessings in their own way as they free you for the new growth, deeper friendships and all that really matters. I go into the new year grateful, loving with arms open wide to embrace the new year with joy.
I wish you and your loved ones a joyful, peaceful and safe Christmas, may you be richly blessed with everything that really matters.
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
VANILLA STEWED SANTA ROSA PLUMS WITH YOGHURT LABNE
We were doing a shoot for Clean Food Organic magazine on Friday, an article on Nourishing Young Children…. including early foods (after first foods). I wanted to present a simple yoghurt with a fruit puree, settling on Santa Rosa Plums as they are in season and glorious. The chapter for first foods in my book Wholefood for Children, Nourishing Young Children with Whole and Organic Foods, is headed Pure and Simple, and honestly this very much what it’s all about. Pure, simple food is exceptionally grounding – I honestly think our recipes have become far too complicated, and the real taste of ripe, seasonal food, grown in nutrient rich soil in a sustainable manner is really, quite astonishing. This is equally as important for teenagers and adults. Pure and simple.
I do love fresh fruit don’t get me wrong, but when the flavour is concentrated by stewing or baking, it simply crosses the blood brain barrier, and whacks you directly in the taste centre of the brain. Now that’s not a scientific opinion but it’s my belief that it absolutely becomes more than it’s initial ripe self. I have a particular way I like to stew fruit – and that is with as little liquid added as possible which only serves to dilute the flavour. Remove peel or stone as indicated by the fruit (peel apples, stone plums etc) and chop them into desired size – as a rule, I cut wet fruit (stone fruit) into halves, and berries left whole. Drier fruit such as apples I cut into very thin slices or cubes. Add them to a pot with the smallest amount of sugar if needed – just enough to take the edge off – I like to use the Billingtons Golden Castor sugar – the least refined, clear crystallised sugar available to me – this allows the pure flavour of the fruit to come through, 1 – 2 teaspoons, more for a larger amount. This is no place for rapadura, maple sugar etc. Add 1/2 – 1 vanilla bean, cut down the middle ( I’m in love with Heilala, has a beautiful nuance of flavour). For very dry fruit such as apple, I’ll add a tiny bit of water. Cover and place over the gentlest of flames until juices are seeping from the fruit – this takes from 10 – 15 minutes, so be patient. Take the lid of, taste and adjust sweetness as desired, increase the flame to high and reduce to desired consistency. I leave the vanilla bean in because I’m making enough to last me for a few days – ooh, a quick dessert to serve with a rice custard – yes thank you, or serve on an autumn porridge or pikelets, yes thank you, or morning tea with yoghurt, yes please :), and let’s not forget, fold into a vanilla ice cream Yes, Yes, Yes ! Puree for baby.
Labne – really, this is simply strained yoghurt or kefir and this is proper thick yoghurt, where the watery part of the milk – the whey – is dripped off. Those thick yoghurts you find in the shops – albeit organic? You don’t want them. They’re thickened up with milk solids (no, no, no). My favourite brand is Paris Creek (Bio – Dynamic) – but when I can get it, I like the Shulz Organic Yoghurt also (couldn’t find a website for them) and you’ll notice they are decidedly more watery than the others. This is what real yoghurt looks like. The idea is to take a sieve (but you know, you could use a colander though it’s a little large) and place over a bowl to catch the whey. Line it with 4 layers of muslin. Add the yoghurt and fold the corners of the muslin over the yoghurt. In the cooler weather you can leave it out to drip, when warmer, put it in the fridge. There’s no time rule – the longer it drips, the thicker it becomes as more whey drips out. You choose what consistency you’d like. And keep that whey – place it in a clean glass jar in the fridge for up to 2 months. You use this for all sorts of things – soaking your grains, porridge, legumes, culturing dried fruits (see Wholefood for Children), adding to pancake or pikelet mix to culture overnight etc. The labne is gorgeous also in a savoury format – drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and herbs, or served in place of cream – mix with cinnamon, vanilla and maple syrup.
There are some beautiful fruits right now at this point of time in Australia – late summer, very early autumn. Plums, Figs, Peaches. Find some, keep them simple, taste their pure essence and take a snapshot of that flavour with your mouth. When you are tired of apples in the deepest parts of winter, you can file back through your taste memories and I know you will smile, and feel that essence flow through you once again. This is what good food, healthy food truly is. It gives you life, and makes you feel alive, all in one glorious, delicious whole moment. Go grab that moment.
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