Saturday, September 12, 2015

Autumn's on its way

There is a slight chill at 8am when I walk the dog these mornings, that and the acorns falling, the blackberry is out and the wasps are starting to get drunk on the figs fermenting in the trees...It's Autumn on its way and my favorite season.

 This year there has been no veg patch work, a month away in the key month of June put stop to any ideas of growing our own vegetables this year.  The raspberry, white currant and black currant  all died off due to lack of watering, so this year there's been no making jams, juices or cocktails. 

There's a tree in a neighbour's patch which produces some of the best figs, I like them just as the bit of juice starts to leak from the underneath and the wasps are circling the tree.  It's then they are at their best I think.   So I scrumped some today to make fig preserve and fig roll. 

I've also started to harvest the walnuts from our tree.  It's a tedious job really (although not as bad as the chestnuts), this year I've decided to harvest them when they are immature.  Which means that I have to go and shake the tree every day and process the handful which fall off.   Even then about half of them have bugs or some strange growth in the kernel!   Yesterday I stained my fingers black tearing off the green husks and cracking about 100 nuts.  

Shamed by my friends on facebook putting up images of their hard work preserving fruits and vegetables, shamed by my complete laziness to get off my arse and actually make something.

So today I've made:

1) Fig rolls
2) Fig and ginger preserve
3) Pear and walnut preserve

Fig rolls

200 grams of flour (use a mix on white plain flour and wholemeal)
50 grams of dark sugar
65 grams of butter and
1 egg yolk
1 pinch of salt

Make up a dough by mixing all the dry in a bowl.  Then add the egg yolk to bind it together (you might need a bit of water too).  When it's come together put the dough in the fridge while you make your fig jam.
Most recipes I found online used dried figs, so they were a more solid jam.  I used about 20 fresh figs and added a good squeeze of golden syrup (although honey would do just as well).  I cooked the figs and syrup on a medium heat for about 25 mins or until the excess liquid had evaporated. I then took the magic wand (whizer thingy) and just blitzed the figs a bit.
Next, roll out your dough into a nice rectangle, then cut off the uneven sides.  Put a good dollop of your jam along the middle then fold over one side of the dough to meet the other.   Slice up and put in an oven on 200c for about 30 mins.   

Fig and Ginger Preserve

20 figs (sliced into fours)
1 tablespoon ground ginger
Good shake of all spice
60 grams dark sugar
2 tablespoons of balsamic vineger.

Put it all in a pan on a medium heat, heat for an hour until the excess liquid has evaporated.  Turn up the heat for 5 mins at the end, just so it starts to catch the bottom of the pan and becomes very sticky.  Put into a clean jar.

Pear and Walnut Preserve

8 pears
8 walnuts
40 grams of sugar
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
3 springs of thyme

Peal and chop the pears taking out the hard core and pips.  Crack your nuts.   Put it all in a pan on a medium heat and leave it to slowly cook down.  There is a lot of liquid in pears so this does take about 30 mins.  After 30 mins add the thyme and turn up the heat, keep an eye on it now, because it'll start to catch quickly.  Don't stir it, just leave it to become sticky and the liquid is thick looking.....don't let it burn on the bottom of the pan.    Spoon it into a clean jar.

So, once I got off my arse and did something I was well pleased.  The bounty here in Portugal is amazing, and with limes finally coming on our new lime trees I'll have to have a think about my take on a Key Lime Pie!