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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wine Grapes (Blue) Jelly

Summer of 2013 was typical characteristic earth warming but I don't want to go into those facts like I'm suffering a broken record syndrome.
The grapes were left on the vine to ripen till late November.  They were super juicy and sweet.

A jelly is made from fruit juice. A jam is made from crushed fruits. 
What do you call it when it's made from juice of crushed fruits ? 
How does JAMLY sound.....or JELJAM ? 


1. Place the grapes,  stalks and seeds included (my grapes were seedless) in a large stockpot. Add a cup of water to the pot.  Cover and heat the pot over medium heat until the water begins to boil. Reduce to low and simmer for 15 or 20 minutes till grapes are soft.  Let the grapes cool

2. Work the soften grapes in batches with a food mill (Flotte Lotte).  Discard solubles like stalks, seeds and skin (maybe a bee or wasp as well). 

3. By now, you should know how much of  juice/pulp you have collected.  Combine juice/pulp with measured amount of pectin sugar and bring to boil. 

4. Prepare clean jars and set aside, ready to fill them.

5. Turn down heat to low and let juice/pulp gentle rolling boil.  Scoop and discard scum which float to top.  

6. The jelly/jam is ready for filling soon as skin starts to form on top.

7.  Turn off heat and fill immediately into prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch (0.64 cm) of space.

Screw on the lid tight and overturn to let it sit on its head/lid. This will sterilize the jar and lid all at same time.  Wait 10 minutes and turn the jars upright, let cool.  

8. During the cooling process, you may hear popping sound, created by vacuum on the lids.  Jars without vacuum means the lid is not properly closed or defect so the contents should be consumed soonest.

9.  Label the jars (contents and date of filling) and keep in cool storage.  

A neighbor gave me some white weingrapes and I bottled them the same way.  The color may not be as rich but taste just as yummy.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rhubarb & Strawberry Delight

Rhubarb is generally cooked and prepared like fruits -- but it is actually a vegetable.  I call it pucker food due to its tartness.  

Only the stalk which looks like celery, is edible.  Loaded with vitamin A and C, potassium and calcium.  Some even say it's a superfood for its ratio of health benefits to calories.  7 calories per 100 grams. High levels of calcium means it is a fat-free alternative to dairy products which lowers cholesterol and it actually speeds up metabolism.  

The leaves are toxic as they are loaded with oxalic acid.  So you don't cook rhubarb in aluminium, copper or iron pan as the rhubarb will turn brownish and the pan discolors. The toxicity is not wasted as it may be used as pesticide. Just boil a bunch of leaves with water, let cool, sieve and use as spray on plants.  

This 'vegetable' is often used in cakes, tarts, jams, sauces as well as compote.  

Here is one of my favourite -- rhubarb strawberry compote with fresh cheese flavoured with limocello, a lemon liquor.

Ingredients for the rhubarb compote

  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
  • 500 g rhubarb, trimmed, washed and cut into 2cm chunks
  • 100 ml orange juice or water
  • 100 g caster sugar (more or less to own taste)
  • 100 g fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and halved.

Make the compote

  1. Place 4 tbsp caster sugar in a pan.
  2. Heat sugar over low heat.
  3. As soon as sugar is caramelized, add vanilla pod and orange juice.
  4. Simmer till caramel dissolves.
  5. Add rhubarb and low simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat, cover and set aside to chill.

Ingredients for the fresh cheese

  • 200 g fresh cheese (Quark)
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 100 g powdered sugar
  • 200 ml whipped cream
  • 1-2 tbsp Limoncello (optional)

Make the cheese

  1. Mix thoroughly cheese, lemon zest and powdered sugar.
  2. Carefully fold in whipped cream.
  3. Serve rhubarb compote in a bowl, with a good healthy scoup of cheese, dribbled over with limoncello.

Caramelized sugar with vanilla pod.

Add rhubarb and low simmer.

Add strawberries to chilled compote.