We had a productive weekend; as well as finishing the chicks’ new, bigger, pen, we also had time to rack off our latest batch of Turbocider, make jam, and set another demijohn of wine going. Both the jam and the wine were made from largely free ingredients.
Rhubarb and Ginger Jam
I love Rhubarb and Ginger Jam; it was a particular favourite of my Mum’s. I remember going on a shopping trip to Reading with her when I was about 10, and the only thing we came back with was a large jar of the said preserve – but she didn’t feel that the trip had been wasted! The rhubarb I used was growing in the front garden border of my Dad’s bungalow; there are a mass of rhubarb plants there producing lots of good thick stems. I acquired 1.8Kg of stems last week, we had a jar of crystallised ginger in the cupboard and plenty of sugar, so I dug out a recipe from Maggie Mayhew’s Jams Jellies & Marmalades and set to work.
1Kg rhubarb cut into short lengths
25g fresh root ginger, bruised
115g crystallised ginger cut into small pieces
50g candied orange peel
1. put the rhubarb chunks in a glass bowl layered with all of the sugar and leave overnight (this really brings out the juice in the fruit)
2. next day, scrape the fruit and sugar into a preserving pan, tie the bruised ginger root in a muslin bag and hang in the fruit in the pan
3. cook gently for 30 minutes, or until the fruit has softened
4.put jars and lids in the oven at about 100C to sterilise them
5. remove the root ginger from the pan, and add the orange peel and crystallised ginger to the rhubarb
6. bring the mixture to the boil and cook over a high heat until setting point is reached (I use a plate pre-cooled in the freezer, drop a little of the jam onto the plate and see if, after a minute or two, the jam stops moving on the plate; if it doesn’t, cook the mixture for a little longer and retest)
7. one setting point has been reached, fill the sterilised jars with jam (I find a jam funnel is a good investment, save blobs of jam all over your work surface!)
8. leave to cool and then enjoy on toast, as a sauce over cake, even as a cake filling
Lovage is a beautiful, stately plant, but can easily get out of hand if it is happy in its position. I grew mine from seed some years ago, it was ridiculously easy and before long I was thrusting my many spare plants on neighbours and friends. The three plants I kept for myself went into the herb border. The warm April combined with a bit of rain made the plants shoot up from nothing to over six feet in less than a month. That is a lot of herb to try to use up, and I needed a recipe that would require a lot of lovage, so I thought of wine. Coming by a recipe for the said wine, however, was not easy. There are some lovely food recipes on Old Fashioned Living but they use only minuscule amounts. I came across the suggestion that lovage could be used as a substitute for parsley in a Parsley Wine recipe, so out came CJJ Berry’s First Steps in Winemaking and there was a suitable recipe.
500g fresh lovage leaves (stems are OK too in moderation)
2 oranges, thinly peeled and juiced
2 lemons, thinly peeled and juiced
1 tsp grape tannin (for its preserving qualities)
4.5 litres water
packet of yeast
1 tsp yeast nutrient (I used a champagne yeast but any white wine yeast will do)
1. boil lovage with the orange and lemon peal in all of the water for 20 minutes
2. put the sugar into a large bowl and strain the lovage water over the sugar, stirring well to dissolve the sugar
3. when lukewarm add the citrus juices, grape tannin, nutrient and yeast, stir and cover
4. leave to stand for 24 hours, then pour into a demijohn and insert an airlock
5. leave in a warm place until fermentation has finished and the wine has cleared
6. rack off into bottles and leave for a few months before (hopefully) enjoying!
I will let you know in six months or so how it turns out!