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HOW TO POACH RHUBARB

IMG_8580 (414x640)

Rhubarb is back and getting comfortable with this technique is a great asset as you will be able to turn this into so many great dishes.

450g rhubarb

110g caster or soft brown sugar

Method

150C

Slice the rhubarb into 2.5cm lengths and lay in an ovenproof dish (one that will fit the rhubarb in a fairly tight single layer).

Scatter over the sugar.

Bake the rhubarb for 15-20 minutes, until it is almost (but not quite) cooked through.

Take the dish out of the oven, turn the rhubarb pieces and leave to cool. The rhubarb will finish cooking as it cools.

This will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

POACHING FRUIT

 

poached pears

When it comes to poaching fruit the options are endless and one that brings huge satisfaction.  Some fruits are better poached than others, peaches, apricots and pears come to life once again from poaching.  Always use good quality fruit, be gentle and ensure the fruit is cooked!

For this recipe I am using pears as they are in season and perfect for poaching – obviously change fruit to suit season.

1 litre water
1 1/3 cup (265 g) sugar
4 pears, peeled, cored, and quartered

Additions: One cinnamon stick, 2 teaspoons whole cloves, black peppercorns or allspice berries, one lemon half, one split vanilla bean, 2-3 star anise, 6-8 fresh ginger slices

Method

In a large saucepan, heat the water and sugar until warm and the sugar is dissolved. Add any of the additions that you wish.

Slide in the pears and cover with a round of greaseproof paper, with a small hole cut in the center.

Keep the liquid at a very low boil and simmer the pears until cooked through, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the pears.

BOTTLED PEACHES

peaches (800x533)

Bottling is a method of preserving food in sealed jars.

This is the time of the year when you should make the effort and get comfortable with bottling your own fruit.  My mother always had cupboards upon cupboards of bottled fruit and we would use them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and in winter when varieties are limited they make for a welcome addition to your table.

This method is one my mother showed me and it works a treat.  This method will save you time and it really does take any worry away from bottling.

What to do with extra peaches? Bottle them in vanilla brandy of course!

HELPFUL TIPS

Guide to amount of syrup required

PRESERVING JAR                                 WHOLE FRUIT                                              FRUIT HALVES

1 litre                                                     2 cups                                                             1 ½ cups

500ml                                                     1 ¼ cups                                                         ¾ cup

Fruit can be packed in syrup or water. Syrup will give better colour and depth of flavour.  Make the syrup before preparing the fruit.  Dissolve the sugar in water then bring to the boil.

SYRUP – 1 cup sugar to 2 cups water will make a medium syrup and works well with most fruit.

Firstly wash your jars and lids well in hot soapy water and rinse under hot water, dry upside down in warm oven 50C.  Place the lids in a small pot with water and bring to the boil for at least 5 minutes.  Turn off and set aside.

Place all your ingredients for your syrup in medium size pot and bring to boil.

Prepare your fruit by cutting it in half and removing the stone, I cut my peaches into quarters which worked well as some of the fruit didn’t remove easily from the stone. Once all the peaches are prepared place into hot syrup and bring to a gentle rolling boil.  Cook for about 5 -10 minutes or until the fruit is just tender.  Remove from the heat.

Carefully place your jar on a plate and spoon the peaches into it getting as full as possible.  Now carefully pour over they syrup so that it overflows, this will prevent any fruit from being exposed.  Remove the hot lid from the water and place on top of the jar and if using a screw top secure tightly.  Wipe the jars with hot soapy water and dry.

Label with date and item and keep away from direct sunlight.  An indication when these have preserved correctly the lid will draw down in the center.  They will keep for 6-12 months.

POACHED APRICOTS

this is a basic recipe for poaching any fruit, always ensure you have the fruit submerged in syrup and always wash the fruit beforehand. You will find peaches will peel easily after poaching, apricots and netarines not necessary whereas plum skins usually slip off through cooking. You can poach varieties of fruit one after the other in the same syrup it will add a deeper more complex flavour.

4-6 stone fruit

Basic poaching syrup
330g white sugar
750ml hot water

Flavouring – optional extras
Vanilla bean, citrus peel, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick or star anise, fresh lemon verbena leaf or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Method
Put the sugar and water (and your choice of flavourings) into a heavy-based pot and heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer syrup gently for 3-4 minutes then carefully add the fruit.

Cut a piece of baking paper to snuggly fit the inside of the pot. Press down to sit lightly on the surface of the syrup. Poach the fruit until just tender – roughly 3-6 minutes depending on size, ripeness and variety of fruit. Remove from syrup with slotted spoon if wanting to keep fruit simply cool in syrup and store in fridge.