Saturday, June 19, 2010

Junky Jam and Ogre like Ogoreki

Cottage industry, how great you would be..... if only the neighbours would move out and we could convert you all into gardens!

One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe-German Playwright, Poet, Novelist & Dramatist, 1749-1832.

So it is that time of year, yes the greatest time when the fruit is plentiful and tasty but the most important factor is that it is cheap. The Strawbs will be coming to an end soon, whilst at the moment the most common sight in our neighbourhood on the street corners isn't kebab stalls, isn't flower sellers but little men with piles of Truskawka in little cane baskets. One of the quaint things about Poland is that they call a local market a "bazaar". It always makes me think of Turkey and piles of spices, insence burning and little men running around with tea!

But our market is a beautiful place where you can buy some big granny undies, double yolk eggs, dried herbs from a sweet talking old man, fresh herbs, smoked smallgoods, milk, pretty much anything with the exception of live animals, unless you count the gold fish man.....

So this day we bought a whole bunch of beautiful strawberries. They are really great at this time of the year. Not just great but going for about 4PLN/kg ($AUD1.4, GBP0.83, $US1.21). Which is a great bargain for freshly picked and bursting with flavour fruit. So we grabbed about 2 kg's and brought them home with the expectation of munching away on them for the weekend. But when we opened our selection, we realised quickly that they were mostly really good fruit, with few exceptions. This got me to thinking about making jam as I had heard that the best fruit should be used for jam. So off I trotted onto the internet to locate some information. I stumbled across numerous sites with great information. The BBC website even had a video of how to make strawberry jam. Also I came across a great website from Australia, a little bit preachy at times, but a really nice place full of passion and desire to make living at home real living and of course a place where they made their own way of making jam. Me being a scientist, male and know-it-all decided to follow both recipes, otherwise known as having a recipe but not following it.
So here are the steps:
1) Buy fantastic strawberries
2) Core them and remove anything that looks even a little squishy.
3) add equal part of castor sugar to equal part of strawberry and mix, then leave to sit for a while. In my eagerness it was only about 1.5 hours but should be better overnight.
4) The strawberries will now release their delightful juices and so whack all this into a big pot (I mean big!), if you can a heavy bottom is best. Heat on low to melt sugar, once that graininess has gone when you stir it then you can turn the heat up.
5) The reason I said big pot is that it starts what is called a rolling boil, very pretty and very effective, but mine decided to roll over the side. So keep an eye on it, and turn it back a touch if it gets too excited.
6) While it was boiling away, I decided to use some of our home grown mint, berry icecream, and the "scum" or bubbles that are on the top of the jam for a little snack.Product placement anyone? I tell you what, this was the best tasting dessert I have had in a long time, and was so beautifully contructed by a company called "The Hand of Mart".
7) Once it had boiled for a whole half of a football game (Australia 0- Germany 4!) I decided to bottle it, but first I was sneaky and crushed some of the strawbs with a potato masher as I had some really big ones in there that I hadn't cut. I washed, added boiling water, rinsed it, put in the oven for 40 minutes at 140C to kill off bugs. Then filled the jars. The jam itself came out a little runny, I probably should have boiled it longer or as the Mother of Mart, Ela, said I should have used pectin jam. Either way it seriously is one of the greatest jams I have eaten. I am not normally a big jam fan, but I have found myself eating it almost every day for breakfast for a week!

Ok, while I was being the jam king Marty was working hard on another recipe. A more traditional one. One called Ogorki Malosolne, which translates roughly as slightly salted pickles or gherkins if you are English.
Don't they just look good swimming in the sink.
What is that guy looking so happy for?
Oh! I see, he is getting excited about getting into the action!
So after cleaning up those little cucumbers, you should get your earthen ware pot ready. Start by lining it with horseradish leaves, dill, pepper corns, horsradish (root) and garlic.
This was our first time with this recipe, and we decided to slice our garlic. Which was a little silly as the pickles/gherkins became super garlicky. So in future they will stay whole instead.
Then you add your buffed and shined cucumbers in layers with following with alternate layers of the afforementioned greenery.
Keep doing this till the pot is filled, or you have run out of produce!
Then mix salt into warm water and stir till it dissolves, roughly two 2 tblspns to 2L (subtle hint: this is where they get their name from). Then you pour this into the pot and put a weight in there to hold down everything to stop it floating. We used just a small bowl full of the salty water. It worked a treat. We left them for 24 hours and started to munch. For this style of gherkin/pickle they should stay crunchy as it makes them much nicer.

Overall it was a really great fun weekend as we bottled the nettle beer too, which is now sitting away in the pantry and working on getting some great flavour and bubbles... I hope! :)


Erin said...

That strawberry desert looks amazing. And Lindt is VERY good chocolate.
Two questions about your jam.
1)Why are the jars turned upside down?
2)Did the jam set without pectin?

I made some jams in the summer here...some kiwifruit, and plum. Plum was by far the bestest. Yum. Oh, and I see you have mint....I made mint jelly too.

Garth said...

Hey Erin, yeah the desert was pretty darned delicious. Great work on making the jams, I can't wait to make a plum one! I am going to do a gooseberry one today and maybe a cherry one next weekend
1) it is a little trick to help the seal work and make sure they are sterile too, an old Polish tradition/method. Also I then went and boiled the bottles (right way up) in a water bath for an hour or so to make sure they are sterile.
2) they didn't quite set to make a total jelly like a store bought jame, there is quite a bit of movement in them. So more like a preserve than a conserve. The theory is that I should have used more "less ripe" fruit, as these have more pectin in them, or I could have boiled longer. But to be honest I am happy with how they are. :) The taste is amazing!

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