Sunday, 22 December 2013

lemon and ginger preserve

I've called it preserve to sound posh - Mr Manley keeps calling it marmalade, which it is really, but just humour me, okay?  This is the marmalade for people that can't make marmalade!  It's technically homemade, and adding in the ginger makes it even more homemade I reckon, and it's a fab christmas gift, or just for taking with you when you go visiting - after all, who doesn't like something yummy on their toast?

It's all in the details - the most important detail being that you get one of those tins full of prepared fruit.  My local (fairly small) supermarket stocks the thick cut orange one, on the shelf next to the ready made thick cut orange marmalade, but if you can't find it locally, check out Lakeland , where they have (thick or thin cut) orange, lemon, and strawberry.  We make a few batches of lemon and ginger each year, which is spread on toast for an extra delicious breakfast, or crumpets, or english muffins.  Plenty of other uses though - you can stir a few tablespoons into some stir fry veg, or to a plain cupcake mixture to add some tang.  It's a firm favorite in our christmas boxes for friends, often being requested partway through the year too!  Each tin makes enough preserve to fill eight of our 'give away' jam jars - 6lbs of preserve.  Yum.

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Before you start measuring ingredients, you need to sort out your jars - always sterilize one more than you think you'll need.  It's advised to put hot jam / preserve / marmalade into warm or hot jars as opposed to cold ones, as this risks the glass jars cracking, so leave your jars in the oven with the door closed until you're ready to start potting (which means filling the jars)

one tin of prepared lemons 
1800g sugar
425ml water

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Tip the sugar into the biggest pan you have (I use our stockpot), followed by the fruit.  I measure the water and rinse the tin with it before pouring it into the pan, as that way I don't waste even the dregs from the tin.  There may be a few little white grainy lumps in your fruit - don't panic!  This is fine, and they will disappear as the mixture heats, so don't stress about picking them out as there is no point.

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This was my great find at the supermarket - (frozen) ready chopped / grated / crushed ginger!  I used six little cubes, equivalent to six teaspoons according to the packaging, but you can (of course) use fresh ginger - just peel and then grate before you add it to the pan.

I know it looks kinda odd in the pictures above, but once the mixture has warmed up the cubes dissolve - I promise!

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Turn on the heat under your pan, and stir, and stir, and stir.  Once it's started boiling turn the heat down a little - it needs to be a rolling boil - from what I understand this means it's boiling and even if you stir it with your trusty wooden spoon it will keep bubbling away, but not boiling so vigorously that it will boil over.  Fine line!  This is when you realise why you needed your biggest pan - you can imagine the mess if it all boils over!

(If it does boil over, turn off the heat and move the pan somewhere safe for it to cool.  Do not try to wipe up the mess - yes, it will get sticky if you leave it but better a sticky hob than fingers burnt by boiling sugar)

 You can continue to stir, but don't feel obliged - it will happily get on with it's own thing - just a quick swish around with the spoon every few minutes will be fine.  It needs to be rolling for 20 minutes.

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Once 20 minutes has passed, take the pan off of the heat, and leave to cool for ten minutes - this means the preserve will have thickened a bit, so when you fill your jars the fruit will be distributed through the preserve, not all floating towards the top as it would if you put it straight in the jars.  

I skim any foamy bits off of the surface with a spoon that I've vaguely sterilised in boiling water, and put them in another jar or just a small dish - they taste fine, but just don't look very appetizing!  

One the preserve had thickened, start filling your jars, making sure you screw the lid on tight while the jars and preserve is still warm - as they cool the clicky circle on top of the lid will pull in.  Before you store your jars or give them away, check this has happened - if not, tighten the lid and keep this jar for yourself, and store it in the fridge, since it will not keep for quite as long as the others.

Cliché time : store somewhere dark that doesn't experience significant fluctuations in temperature.  Properly sterilized, sealed and stored jars will keep for twelve months, but once open, store in the fridge and use within twelve weeks.  To make sure you use them up in time, I'd recommend sticking a label on with what's in there as well as when you made it - you'd be surprised how quickly it can get very confusing with a bunch of jars tucked away at the back of the cupboard!

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