NZ Gardener - Garden Diary 2018 - - Presserving Tips -

AP­PLES, PEARS, FEIJOAS, CRABAPPLES AND QUINCES are the main­stays of the au­tumn pre­server’s or­chard. Bot­tle and stew fruit for win­ter, make jams and jel­lies, or try your hand at posh pastes and fruit cheeses for an­tipasto plat­ters.

• The ba­sic jelly mak­ing method is the same for all of these fruits. Roughly chop un­peeled fruit into a large pot and add just enough wa­ter to cover, then bring it to a gen­tle sim­mer (lid on, if pos­si­ble) and cook un­til the fruit is ten­der. Then tip the pulp into a jelly bag, large sieve or colan­der lined with muslin, or a cheap cot­ton pil­low­case and strain over a bowl. (Catch the drips, as it’s the liq­uid you want, not the pulp.) Then sim­ply mea­sure the amount of liq­uid you have, and match with an equal quan­tity of sugar (or jam-set­ting sugar if us­ing a low-pectin fruit). Boil briskly un­til a lit­tle jelly drib­bled onto a cold plate (from the fridge) gets a wrin­kled skin.

• Feijoas are won­der­ful bot­tled, and it’s not dif­fi­cult. Cut firm fruit in half and scoop out the flesh with a tea­spoon. (Re­serve the skins to make fei­joa jelly). Place the scooped fruit into a large bowl of wa­ter with the juice of 1 lemon (this stops the fruit turn­ing brown as you work). In a large pot, dis­solve 1 cup sugar to 3 cups wa­ter. When sim­mer­ing, gen­tly lower the feijoas into the syrup and sim­mer for 5-10 min­utes. Then, us­ing a slot­ted spoon, pack the stewed feijoas into hot glass jars, top up with the stew­ing syrup, and screw on lids to seal. Turn the jars up­side down (the ex­tra heat im­proves the strength of the seal) un­til cool. Pears are also easy to pre­serve this way, as the fruit is firm and holds its shape.

• A tip for mak­ing quince paste. In­stead of boil­ing chopped quinces, cook them whole in your slow cooker un­til their flesh is ten­der and rose-pink, then squish off the skins and slide out the cores. It’s the eas­i­est way to get a smooth pulp. Com­bine this pulp with the same amount of sugar and cook slowly, stir­ring con­stantly, in a large heavy fry­ing pan, for 30 min­utes (or more), un­til thick and dark.

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