If anyone can think of a catchier name for this then I would love to hear it. It is a bit of a mouthful, no pun intended. I’ve met quite a few Americans who find the fact that we Brits often refer to dessert as […]
When I was little a battle would be waged every summer in our garden between my mum and the resident blackbirds over who was going to get to the blackcurrants first once they reached peak ripeness. On the occasions when my mum won the war […]
I’ve told you before about how much I love cherries. I’ve probably mentioned the tears that ensued when I swallowed a cherry stone as a child and my dad told me a cherry tree would grow out of my head.
Ordinarily cherries are far too expensive to buy too often. It seems that this year though cherry growing conditions in the UK have been pretty perfect and we have quite a glut! In other circumstances cherry jam would seem like such an extravagant thing to make but I was given a sackful (an actual sackful!) last time we visited Mr Colonial Cravings family.
Turning the fruit into jam not only means that I’ve preserved all that cherry joy to enjoy for a little bit longer but it also gives me some scope for a few more cherry based recipes. Watch this space…
makes about 2 medium jars
850g sour cherries, pitted
600g jam sugar (sugar with added pectin)
juice of half a lemon
1 cinnamon stick
knob of butter (optional)
Put a small saucer in the freezer to test the jam later for setting point.
Stir together the fruit and sugar in a very, very large pan. Add the cinnamon stick and set it over a moderate heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle rolling boil and leave it to bubble for around 30 minutes. If you have a jam/sugar thermometer then you want the mixture to reach around 105°c.
Test the jam to see if it’s reached setting point by dropping a spoonful of it onto the saucer that you put in the freezer earlier. Leave it to cool for a moment then push your finger through it, if the surface wrinkles then it’s ready. If it’s not quite there then let it bubble for a little longer. Once it has reached setting point turn off the heat, remove the cinnamon and stir in the lemon juice. If the jam has a lot of foam on the surface then stir in a knob of butter to disperse it.
Pour the jam into warm sterilised jars, label, seal and leave to cool.
Today’s Colonial Cravings contribution from the Facebook community comes courtesy of Katy. This is a lovely summery sounding pickle recipe that her granny used to make, which makes it particularly appealing to me because in my world food and memory go hand in hand. Mr […]
Mr Colonial Cravings here, writing a guest post on my wonderful wife’s excellent blog! (you see I get to benefit from the fruits of Mrs Colonial Cravings efforts, so I really do think it’s excellent!)
A few years ago, while in a sleepy Cornish town, I was party to a very British tradition, the pub lock-in. My ticket to such a prestigious event lay with the old bar piano, on which I had been entertaining the locals with increasingly messy versions of Delilah, Your Song and Hey Jude (amongst other less memorable sing-alongs), increasingly messy because the locals had been plying me with the traditional Cornish tipple Rum & Shrub. I came away with an almighty hangover, but also with a taste for this new delightful beverage, and its similar cousin Brandy & Lovage.
Not only do they taste great, but they have a great story too. Shrubs have been around for a long time, according to ‘The Ark of Taste’ it was a colonial drink whose name derives from the Arabic word sharab, to drink, but by the time they arrived in Cornwall they took on their own unique purpose. Cornwall was a hot-spot for smuggling due to its abundance of coastline littered with many small coves, and one of the big items to smuggle was booze, in the form of French Brandy and Caribbean Rum. Trying to get a barrel of booze, in the dark, onto a small boat, into a small cove in the notoriously fickle seas around Cornwall could easily result in a dunk in salt water leaving you with a tainted product. No problem, just adding some Shrub or Lovage would mask that salty taste – proper job (as they say in Cornwall!).
Anyway, fast forward to the present and I find in our new stateside home that Shrub is back again, and back with a vengeance. I’ve even got a book on it now and have found out you can make all kinds of yummy shrubs by combining fruit, vinegar, sugar, water and herbs. So Mrs Colonial Cravings asked me to have a play with a new shrub concoction and write a post about it. This is a simple shrub combining mandarin and basil, it’s incredibly easy to make and can be used in all sorts of drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
lots of basil (at least 20 leaves)
120ml white wine vinegar
Remove the zest from the fruit, trying to keep the amount of white pith to a minimum. Muddle the zest thoroughly with the basil and the sugar before covering and leaving it for 1 hour (this allows the sugar to extract the citrus oils from the zest).
Combine the oily sugar mix with the squeezed juice of the fruit and the vinegar. Stir it well so that the sugar dissolves and then strain the liquid into a clean jar and give it a good shake. Put the shrub in a cool dark spot and leave it for a couple of days for the flavours to mellow and mingle together. When it is ready store it in the fridge until you want to use it, the sugar and vinegar combined with the cold of the fridge should keep it fresh for a long time (although ours only lasted 6 weeks because we’d drank it all by then!)
Now you have your shrub there are many ways to use it, here are a few suggestions we tried but I’d encourage you to get creative and try others too.
Elderflower & Mandarin Martini – try this sophisticated drink for size.
2 parts shrub
4 parts gin
1 part elderfllower cordial
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake and then strain into martini glasses. Add a simple garnish of basil for presentation.
New-Fangled – my take on an Old Fashioned!
1 part shrub
2 parts bourbon
1 tsp honey
2 dashes of bitters
Warm the honey so it will dissolve more easily and then combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker (without ice), shake and then serve over ice in a rocks glass. Add a twist of mandarin peel for presentation.
Mandarin-Basil Mocktail – even the kids can get involved in this one, it makes a very sophisticated and refreshing take on a soft-drink.
1.5 oz shrub
1 tsp demerara sugar
big handful of basil
Muddle the basil (keep some leaves for garnish) with the sugar in a jug (or directly in the glasses if they’re sturdy). Add the shrub and then slowly add the soda water to keep the fizz. Serve in glasses with a garnish of basil leaves.
I’m a big fan of chili jams and jellies, more so than hot sauces (with the exception of chipotle, to which I am wholly addicted). I really like the touch of sweetness followed by the gentle warmth of the spice.
This one is great for summer, it’s so tart and tangy! It’s a really good condiment to use with fish, seafood and chicken and works well with Mexican food. There’ll be some more suggestions for what to pair it with in the next few weeks too…
makes 1 standard jar (about 450g)
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 jalapeño pepper
Put a small saucer in the freezer.
Cut all the skin and pith away from the limes and remove the segments from their membranes. I appreciate that this is a bit of a faff but the first time I did this I made it the way that I sometimes make marmalade, by simply quartering and boiling the fruit. This made the end result too bitter for my tastes, I think this method gives better results.
Put the segments and any juice that may have escaped into a large saucepan. Halve the chili lengthways and finely slice it, seeds, membrane and all. Add this and the sugar to the pan and give it a stir. Mix in the vinegar and water and set the pan, uncovered over a moderate heat.
Bring the mixture to boiling point and then allow it to bubble away for 45 minutes to 1 hour. You can, very carefully, give it a stir every so often. By this time the volume should have reduced by about half and the colour should have turned slightly more golden.
Test that it has reached setting point by dropping a teaspoon full onto the chilled saucer. Leave it for a minute and then push your finger through it. If it wrinkles then it’s reached setting point. If not then let it bubble for a few minutes more before testing again.
Pour the mixture into a warm, sterilised jar and seal.