Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Himalayan Plum Jam | Plum Jam




It is a bright morning. The air is crisp and cool. The orchards are full of women men and children who have gathered to pluck the plums. Their laughter and animated conversations pervade. The trees are full of plums that are beginning to ripen. This is the best time for picking the fruit. The fruit has to be firm to touch or else it will not survive the transit.


Men climb the fragile branches nimbly. Their agility in climbing the trees is amazing. Perhaps they have been doing so since childhood and have become dexterous in the art. They pluck the fruits and throw down into the baskets placed under the trees.


 Once the baskets are full, women and children sort the fruit. Very ripe ones are eaten or taken home. Rest is then taken to the packing rooms.


When you have more fruit than you can eat or give away, and you don’t want it to go waste, you find a way to preserve it. This year we had an overabundance of produce. We shared with our friends and had plums almost three meals a day. We did not want the fruit to rot on the ground. We made jam with juicy, sweet ripe plums.


After making many batches of plum jam, this recipe works best for me. If you want thick chunky and flavourful jam, these tips will help you-
  • Use only ripe and super ripe plums. The riper the better.
  • To keep the texture chunky, cut the plums into quarters. The fruit will breakdown while cooking and this will give the jam a nice texture.
  • Macerate overnight in the refrigerator. This will draw the juices out of the fruit and will dissolve the sugar. The jam cooks faster next day.
  • You may skip lemon juice if you are making a small batch of jam. Lemon juice also helps in preserving. Use the juice of half a lemon for every cup of fruit.


Himalayan Plum Jam | Plum Jam

Ingredients

  • Plums
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Wash the plums. Wipe them dry.
  2. Cut into small pieces. 
  3. For every one cup of the chopped fruit, add one cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar. If the plums are tart, take 1 cup sugar for every 1 cup of chopped plums.
  4. Mix fruit pieces and sugar in a large steel or ceramic bowl and keep in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. Next morning, let the mixture come to room temperature.
  6. Cook on medium flame stirring constantly.
  7. Keep a steel plate in the freezer to test the jam.
  8. When the jam reduces in quantity almost by half and becomes thick, reduce the heat. Add lemon juice. Cook on low flame and stir constantly otherwise it will scorch at the bottom.
  9. When the jam bubbles and becomes thick and falls from the ladle in lumps, turn off the heat.
  10. Drop some jam in the plate kept in the freezer. Return the plate back to the freezer.  After a few minutes, nudge with your finger. If it wrinkles, it is done. If it is runny, cook further.
  11. In the meantime, sterilize the bottles. Place the washed and dried bottles with the lids in the oven. Set the temperature to 150 degrees and set the timer to 10 minutes. Remove the bottles and their lids from the oven.
  12. Fill the jam in the sterilized bottles while the jam is hot.

See more on sterilizing jars here 

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Peach Preserve | Himalayan Peach Preserve

  


 Flower-filled meadows, bird songs, fruit-laden trees, and salubrious clime is what summer is all about in our hills. Hills are heaven in summers. While the plains are reeling in the scorching heat, we still manage to get a shower or two almost every week. The green slopes are dotted with yellows, pinks and whites.
The orchards are in fruition and early June to mid-June is the time for plucking the fruit. Peaches are bountiful this year. Red juicy and pulpy peaches are a treat. One can never have enough of the peaches.


Himalayan Peaches are very juicy and flavourful. We make Peach Jam and preserve every year. I follow my dad’s recipe for the Peach Jam where I pressure cook the fruit. 


This year, besides jam, we made Peach Preserve also. Preserve has pieces of fruit and is chunky in texture. Sometimes you almost chew the fruit. We keep the sugar on the lower side. If you prefer a sweet preserve, add one cup of sugar for every cup of chopped peaches.
It is a pleasure to enjoy the peachy deliciousness once the fruits are over. Peach preserve is delicious and an excellent way of using the overabundance of produce.


Peach Preserve | Himalayan Peach Preserve

Ingredients

  • 1 kg ripe peaches
  • Sugar
  • Juice of two lemons

Instructions

  1. Wash the peaches. Remove dirt and fuzz.
  2. It the peaches are firm, use a paring knife to remove the skin.
  3. If the peaches are ripe and soft, then boil water in a large pot. When it comes to a low rolling boil, drop peaches and let them stay in hot water for two minutes.
  4. Take ice cold water in another deep bowl. Transfer the peaches to this bowl.
  5. Peel the skin. The skin will slip off easily. Or with a knife grab a piece of the skin and peel it away.
  6. Remove the seeds and chop into small pieces and transfer to the steel wok in which you intend to cook the jam.
  7. Drizzle lemon juice and toss the pieces to coat them all with lemon juice.
  8. Measure the chopped peaches with measuring cups.
  9. For every one cup of chopped peaches add ¾ cup of sugar or more depending on the sweetness of the fruit.
  10. Stir and let it sit for 2-3 hours.
  11. Keep a steel plate in the freezer.
  12. Cook the mixture on medium flame stirring occasionally until the liquid has reduced considerably and become thick and jelly-like.
  13. At this point, cook on low flame and stir more frequently to prevent scorching at the bottom.
  14. Soon the preserve will begin to coat the ladle thickly. To test for the doneness, drop a teaspoon of preserve onto the cold plate. Tilt the plate. If it runs slowly it is done. You may also drop some jam on the cold plate. Return to freezer for a minute. Run your finger through the jam on the plate. If it doesn't try to run back together, it is done. If it is runny, it needs to be cooked for some more time.
  15. While the jam cools, sterilise the bottles. Place the washed and dried bottles with the lids in the baking tray of the oven. Set the temperature to 140 degrees and set the timer to 10 minutes. Remove the bottles and their lids from the oven.  (more on sterilising jars here )
  16. Ladle hot jam into the hot jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Secure the lids tightly. 






 




Thursday, 7 June 2018

Doodhi Kulfi | Low Fat Low-Calorie Kulfi



The morning is crisp, cold and breezy. A medley of bird songs is soothing and sonorous. A Green Bee-eater perches on a wire and frequently swoops down for insects.


 Far on a terrace, two pigeons are busy with each other.



Soon the Sun peeps from behind the hill. It looks like a dragon back to spew fire. The hillside is brown and the fields are bare. The river close to the forest has shrunk. It looks more like a brook. Everyone is waiting for a good monsoon.
The heat is maddening. Kids insist on buying ice cream. But ice cream from the market every day is not an appealing idea. Everyone agreed on making kulfi – our Indian version of ice cream.
We decided on making Doodhi Kulfi. It is a low-calorie dessert. Doodhi is bottle gourd also known as lauki in Hindi.



Strange it may sound but it is amazingly delicious and with doodhi (lauki) as a thickener, it is low calorie, unlike regular kulfi. This recipe is from the  book "Great Recipes" a Femina and Spice Board of India presentation published some 25 years ago.

Doodhi Kulfi | Low Fat Low-Calorie Kulfi

Ingredients

  • 1 ½  litres toned milk
  • 2 cups grated doodhi (Lauki)
  • 5 Slices of bread
  • ¼  cup raw Pistachios
  • 1 ½  cups Sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 2 teaspoon Cardamom powder


Instructions

  1. Keep aside 1 cup of milk. Boil the rest till it is reduced 1/3 of its volume. Let it cool.
  2. Remove the edges of bread slices. Soak in 1 cup boiled hot milk for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove seeds from doodhi. Grate and measure two cups. Boil until tender. Squeeze to remove water.
  4. Blend together bread, doodhi and sugar.
  5. Mix with the thickened milk.
  6. Chop 20 pistachios. Add to the mixture. Add cardamom powder. Mix
  7. Fill the kulfi mixture in kulfi moulds. Keep in the refrigerator for 5-6 hours or until set.
  8. Coarsely powder the remaining pistachios. Sprinkle on kulfi. Serve

My Tip:
 Peel, slice, remove seeds and grate doodhi . Measure two cups. Use.
 Adjust sugar according to your preference for sweetness.


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