Tag Archives: autumn

How To Make Damson Curd

Surprisingly I found recipes for every sort of fruit curd under the sun on the internet and in my cook books but not for this so I have winged it and thought I’d share what I did.

For this recipe I have given the weight of cooked puréed de-stoned damsons. I think you need about 600-650 g fresh fruit to get this quantity.

The damsons I used were (I was told by Neil whose field they were growing in)  a variety known as Zwetschgen in Germany. They are bigger than the bullet like damsons and much smaller than the ones I have seen in the green grocers sometimes called damson plums. I am no expert in the many varieties of damsons. But you can always research more and read all about them on various sites like Wikipedia.

These ones were about 2.5 cms in length, dark, fat and ripe with a bit of give to the flesh. And, though tart, sweet enough to eat raw without making your mouth pucker.

IMG_4185.jpgI picked these ones with a  volunteer friend from the Community Garden at Blaise who lives near the Old Severn Bridge at Aust and happens to have a field lined down one side with glorious damson laden trees and blackberries. Who could resist an invitation to pick damsons? Not me!

The only drawback with damsons is their little stones and there are various ways to deal with them, you need patience!

damsoncurdjamjpg

damson curd

Joanna’s Damson Curd

per batch

Makes 4  7oz jars

500g of cooked and puréed unsweetened damsons
125g unsalted good butter
300g caster sugar
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk

Wash and gently cook the fruit in as little water as you can get away with. A slow simmer rather than a full boil. I cooked down about 2 kgs of fruit in a couple of cms of water. Don’t add sugar at this point.

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When the skins are soft remove the stones by hand and either put the fruit pulp in the fridge or freeze it for another day if you have as much as I did or carry on as follows:-

If you have a food mill (I have one made by Good Grips which gets a lot of use) then pass the fruit through that as it will also help find any sneaky stones as well as breaking the cooked fruit down into a purée. You can also use a traditional sieve and  back of a wooden spoon to press the fruit through and prepare the purée.

Wash the jars in hot soapy water, rinse, and put on a tray in a warm oven to sterilise. Put the lids in a small pan of boiling water till just before needed.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk lightly.

In a Bain Marie or a double saucepan put the butter, sugar and fruit purée and stir over a gentle heat till the butter is melted.  If using a bowl over a saucepan remember not to let the bowl touch the water. Keep the heat on low all the way through this process.

Whisk the eggs in and keep whisking and stirring the mixture until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, this can take about ten minutes. Take your time and keep the heat low or you get scrambled fruit egg! Fruit curds continue to thicken up as they cool.

Pot up, screw the lids on, leave to cool, label with a two week use by date and a note to keep in fridge as this has a relatively short fridge shelf life. A good one to share with friends!

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Use the curd to fill cakes, tarts, slather on crumpets and toast, in desserts, eat out of jar very quickly so the photo blurs…

 

Lemon Curd by Zeb Bakes

PS I have totally forgotten I have blogged about making fruit curd before. So if you want a recipe for citrus curds read the old post. I. Have. Totally. Forgotten. So if I repeat myself that is because I am getting old and forgetful.

And I think it is that long  (three years) since I last made it too. And such a pity as I love it so much!

 

UK National Fungus Day

Bread in Morning Light

Sunday 13th October 2013

Some bread out of the oven cooling in the early morning sunshine.  The one in the front is in reality very small but because of the way the camera works it looks quite big. Thanks to the kefir and whatever yeast (fungus) we use we have bread and can make our own as human beings have been doing for a very long time now.

Fungi and bacteria work with the building blocks of the living world to create and destroy. The more we learn about how they work the more amazing they turn out to be. Maybe we should have a National Bacteria Day too?

Here are some of this autumn’s crop of fungi photographs, taken at Westonbirt, Glos and in the Forest of Dean, which is on the other side of the Severn Bridge, but on this side of the border with Wales. It is a good year for fungi in the UK, so have a go at seeing what you can see, or go to an organized walk or a talk, lots around ! This is the first UK Fungus Day and I think it is a great idea!

I have had a stab at identifying some of them but as ever warn people not to go by my identification as I am not a mycologist. I used to be quite reasonable at identifying about a dozen or so of the edible fungi, but as the years pass I have got out of practice. If you go on a fungi foray with a group or a self-styled forager be sure to ask them how they learnt their trade and ask lots of questions. In these straitened economic times, people turn to all sorts of ways to earn a living and foraging and ‘teaching’ foraging is one of them.

For most of us, wild fungi are not an essential part of our diet, but rather a treat, a flavour, an aroma, something maybe that one wouldn’t desire if not driven by media hype and an urge for different experiences.

I am not saying don’t or that it is wrong to want to taste and touch new things, just be extremely careful. There are cases of poisoning each year, usually well-documented in the press, of people who eat the wrong fungi, or the wrong berries or plants.

What is fun and completely safe however, is to go out and take photographs and look for them. We are sticking to that this year unless we see the ones that I know I can id positively.

And not to create any confusion, we didn’t bring any of the fungi depicted here home with us, only took their photos. Please do not ask me to identify your fungi finds!

larch Boletus Brian Kent

I am pretty sure this is the larch boletus, with its spongy underside.

Yellow Stagshorn Calocera viscosa

and I think this is Yellow Stagshorn( Calocera viscosa) – because it was growing on wood but it’s not one we see very often, it is very small and delicate but has this outstanding glowing colour.

autumn fungi

Haven’t looked this one up yet…

…and finally the most glamorous one we have seen this autumn which I think is a magpie inkcap but I haven’t found an image exactly like it so who knows?

magpie inkcap?

One of the hardest things is keeping the dogs out of the field of shot, as anything that interests us, interests them and we don’t want them to eat the fungi either!

Anyone want to tango with a wet poodle?

Anyone want to tango with a wet poodle?

So for those of you who miss him, here is your small friend Zeb, following an exciting jump into a mud bath on the edge of a small pool which contained a stick of desire that he had to have, (just had to).  We are taking him and his sister to the beach this coming week. I forsee many early evening baths.

Autumn Apple Cake with Crumble Topping – Ottolenghi Style

Apple cake crumble topping

This cake is a variation on Ottolenghi’s beautiful Amaretto and Pear cake from their Cookbook which I tried originally a few weeks ago.  In fact this is the third version of this cake I have made so far.

I used Egremont Russets as well as some of the Red Pippins both from the three graft family apple tree at the bottom of our garden. They are lovely apples but the Russets in particular don’t store very well, so as always at this time of year I have to think of ways to use them up.

Not so long ago I said I didn’t like cakes made with oil. This one however is just perfect so I eat my words, or maybe, just another slice…. I made a double batch and have put three loaf cakes by for another day, as they freeze well. Continue reading