The mixture of a very cold winter and the extreme snow along with a long warm summer has meant an abundance of fruit this Autumn and if like me you have been looking at how to store the fruit then here are a few ideas that we have gathered along the way, a fantastically easy apple & pear tart, Apple & Blackberry Jam and a stunning Smoky Blackberry Ketchup!
Apple & Pear Tart
- 320g ready-rolled puff pastry
- 1 beaten free-range egg
- 2 thinly sliced apples
- 2 thinly sliced pears
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 100g ground almonds
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp apricot jam
- Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Unroll the ready-rolled puff pastry onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper. Using the tip of a sharp knife, score a 1cm border all the way round. Generously brush the beaten egg all over the pastry.
- In a bowl, mix the apples, pears and the lemon juice.
- Combine the ground almonds and ground cinnamon in a small bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the centre of the pastry. Top with the apple and pear mixture.
- Sprinkle over the brown sugar, then bake for 30-35 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden. Warm through the apricot jam and a few drops of water in a pan or microwave, then generously brush over the finished tart. Serve the tart with dollops of crème fraîche, if you like.
Apple & Blackberry Jam
This is one of the easiest jams to make and a great favourite of mine. Apples are rich in pectin and acid to help it set, while blackberries add colour and flavour.
- 1kg bramley apples
- 300g blackberries
- Juice 1 lemon
- 1kg granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- Put a couple of small plates in the freezer ready to test the set of the jam. Peel, core and chop the apples. Sort the blackberries and wash them if necessary. Put the prepared fruit in a heavy-based pan or preserving pan along with the lemon juice, sugar and 200ml water.
- Cook the fruit over a low heat, stirring from time to time, until the sugar has melted. Turn the heat to medium and simmer until the apples are soft (10-15 minutes). Turn up the heat and boil until the jam tests positive for a set (see Know-how; it should take about 30 minutes). Stir in the thyme leaves and set aside while you prepare the jars.
- Using a jam funnel if you have one, divide the jam equally among the6 still-hot sterilised jars. Seal with the lids and, once cold, label. Store in a cool place.
Smokey Blackberry Ketchup
- 1kg blackberries
- 1/2 tsp celery seeds
- 1 tsp juniper berries
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 red chilli, chopped
- 350g red onions, finely chopped
- 30g garlic, finely chopped
- 500ml cider vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp hot smoked paprika (optional)
- 400g granulated sugar
- Wash the blackberries in a colander under a cold tap, then shake off as much water as you can. Tip them into a large heavy-based stainless-steel (non-reactive) pan or preserving pan with a lid.
- Grind the celery seeds, juniper and peppercorns finely using a spice mill or a pestle and mortar. Put everything but the sugar into the pan with the blackberries and put over a low-medium heat.
- Bring the mixture up to a simmer (it should bubble gently), cover with the lid and cook for 30-40 minutes or until everything is very soft. Remember to stir from time to time to prevent the mixture from catching and burning on the base of the pan. Remove from the heat and leave for 5 minutes (blending super-hot mixtures can be explosive).
- Once the mixture has cooled a bit, spoon it into a blender, take out the central stopper, cover the hole with a tea towel, then whizz until smooth (you may need to do this in batches). Put a sieve over a glass bowl and, using a wooden spoon, rub the mix through it until only a dry, fibrous residue is left in the sieve (discard).
- Return the sauce to the washed pan and add the sugar, stirring it in well. Put the pan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved; there should be no grittiness left in the pan.
- Simmer the ketchup over a medium heat until thick (about 15 minutes), stirring often as it has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pan at this stage. Once it’s as thick as you wish (remember it will thicken more as it cools), remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Stir once more, then pot into the still-hot sterilised jars or bottles. Seal with vinegar-proof lids and leave to cool. Once cold, label the ketchup and check the lids are tight. Store in a cool dark place.