Travels

Marseilles update

Marseilles

cropped-IMG_3634-e1410859726243.jpgThe Old Port – a Mediterranean treasure

It has been an enduring love affair. Imagine our excitement therefore when we returned to Marseilles for a summer sojourn and found the place sparkling, fresh and fairly crackling with renewed vigour. What a transformation in four short years!

Being named European Capital of Culture for 2013 was the stimulus to complete the makeover. Without losing any of her old raffish charms it appears that the whole city of Marseilles responded to the call to dust off the cobwebs, smarten up and pop on a dazzling smile with which to greet her visitors. France’s old ‘dowager aunt’ port city has morphed into a vibrant, lively, creative and confident Grande Dame.

Looking to settle into a ‘local’ life for our extended stay, we unearthed a stylish simply renovated apartment in a marvellous old building right in the heart of the old port. This afforded us a most interesting, unimpeded view of the street life below and the extraordinary Norman Foster mirrored pavilion, situated at the bustling old port. Underneath which one could always see happy people, performing antics reflected from the mirrored surface above.

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The ancient Old Port of Marseilles offers an extraordinary space where one can mingle with a passing mélange of locals and visitors every hour of the day and evening.

International super yachts berth side by side with working ferries, pleasure cruise yachts and small boats of every imaginable size, type, name, many painted in the colours of Provence.

Jostling for space the small working fishing boats directly disgorge their daily catch to be laid out on fish stalls along the wharf. Here a multi-cultural mix of shoppers haggle with the fishermen or their women over a stunning variety of small or large whole or filleted fish, oysters, mussels, octopus and clams to grace their tables for lunch. The seabirds sit patiently waiting for the guts, heads and cast off pieces of tuna, mackeral, sardines and more.

Casual restaurants, cafes and bars line one side of the port, while on the opposite side, sit more formal, long established venues, most offering their particular Provencal, Sardinian, Italian or Moroccan menus. After a decent sampling, the general standard of dishes is to be commended! 

The wharf-side walkway along the port is a tourist mecca for tastes of Provence – tempting stalls of lavender; sweet macaroons, nougat; soaps; Provencal linens and small glasses of sweet yet piquant citron presse to whet a dry summer throat. Depending on the time of day a championship game of boules may be underway, a jazz band can burst into foot tapping tunes or the rumblings of a demonstration may be heard gathering in a crowd from the passing throng.

And away from the port the enticing boulevards and old streets have been scrubbed clean to welcome shoppers, seekers of culture, history and art with arms wide open and inviting venues full of sparkling ‘jewels’, reminiscent of a pirates treasure chest.

We tried several times to find the dark, narrow dodgy streets above the old port each crowded with exotic food stalls displaying their middle eastern sweets on open street tables. We had once driven down these corridors at speed, sweating, too fearful of being accosted to open the windows or stop. These days a less fearful, definite ‘stop and shop’ destination at the bustling friendly Middle Eastern bazaars and street stalls.

And up in the Panier district we found old buildings beautifully renovated as stylish new hotels, bustling narrow arcades filled with quaintly presented new ateliers offering creative individual arts, crafts, clothing and pre-loved bric-a-brac. Tiny ‘hole in the wall’ kitchens offer dishes piled high with delicious regional specialities.

Where the streets open out on to open spaces or Places can be found markets selling all manner of wares. Especially good are the fresh food markets displaying the best of the seasonal Provence produce, beckoning buyers with vegetables stacked high, snowy white goats and sheep’s cheeses, freshly baked organic breads, beautifully dressed poultry and lamb. Locals interspersed with the odd lucky visitor line up as politely as ever and wait their turn to purchase their chosen wares before it is all snapped up and the place once more provides a calm, quiet and shaded public space.

As exciting as ever, noisy, hot, mostly sunny, magnificently broody. An inspiring melting pot of cultures – so much culture, so many faces, art, history, so many languages, so much humanity – all pulsating with colour, restless energy and life, Marseilles endures.

Oh, I must tell you about….

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Recipes

Braised Rabbit & Mushroom Pie

Rabbit & Mushroom Pie

Braised Rabbit and Mushroom Pie

Matt Golinski Recipe

serves 6-8

 

This braised rabbit is the same as in the recipe for braised rabbit, chestnut mushrooms with potato gnocchi and crispy shallots. It is such a beautiful braise it works equally as well for this great pie.

For a delicious winter variation, include 2 medium parsnips or 3 small turnips, peeled and diced to the braising vegetables.

 

1 x 1.5 kg fresh rabbit, jointed 6 pieces

1 onion, diced

Stock ingredients

1 stick celery, diced

1 leek, washed and diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

4 sprigs lemon thyme

2 bay leaves

8 peppercorns

1 litre chicken stock

flour for dusting

Rabbit Cuts

50 gm butter

1 small handful of flat parsley leaves, finely chopped

 

Saute vegetables, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns until soft and beginning to colour.  Transfer to a casserole or deep tray.  Rinse the rabbit and pat dry on paper towels.  Dust with seasoned flour and shallow fry in a heavy pan until golden.  Arrange pieces on top of vegetables and pour over boiling stock.  Cut a piece of greaseproof paper to fit the inside of the casserole, place on top of the rabbit.

Braise in oven for one and a half to two hours at 170 degree C or until the meat easily flakes off the bones.  Allow to cool in the liquid, remove meat from bones, take out the thyme sprigs and bay leaves, flaking the meat into small chunks.  Strain braising liquid and reduce to no more than 500ml.

Saute the mushrooms in a little olive oil and add reduced braising liquid.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat, add rabbit and chopped parsley. When heated through, remove from heat, swirl in butter. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

The filling is now ready for the pie. This can easily be prepared the day before making your pie.

 

SOUR CREAM PASTRY

 

1 1/2 cups plain flour

Braised Rabbit

a pinch of salt

3 tablespoons sour cream or creme fraiche

1 egg yolk, dash of milk just beaten to brush the top of the pie.

 

1 pie dish or loose bottomed cake tin 28cm diameter (or make 2 smaller pies)

dried beans or raw rice blind bake the bottom pastry crust.

 

Lightly grease the pie dish with a little of the butter.

Pre-heat oven to 200C.

 

N.B. I have often had occasion to use salted butter and omitted the pinch of salt with no change to the lovely flaky crust this dough delivers.

My personal preference is to use creme fraiche when it is available.

 

Sift the flour and salt together, rub in the butter until crumbly. This can be done by hand or by pulsing quickly in a food processor.

Add the sour cream or creme fraiche and work together lightly.

Flatten slightly into a large thick pancake shape, wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes.

Cut into 2 pieces, one a little bigger than the other.

On greaseproof paper, roll out the larger piece to approx. 1/2 cm and using the paper to move the pastry, cover the bottom and side of the buttered pie dish. If necessary, pushing lightly into place with your fingertips. Chill for 10 minutes on the greaseproof paper.

Roll out the other pastry piece and chill until ready to use.

Leaving the greaseproof paper on the pastry, cover the base larger pastry with the dried beans, deeply enough to come up the sides of the pie dish.

Place in the pre-heated oven, on a hot oven tray and cook until the edges are just golden. Remove the greaseproof paper and beans. Place the pastry back in the oven just to dry the centre of the pastry. Remove, fill and top with the other pastry piece.

Use any left over pieces to decorate the top. make 4 tiny slits in the pastry to allow steam to escape.

Brush with the egg wash and bake on the oven tray, for about 25 minutes or until golden.

Leonie in Her Element

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Recipes

Braised Rabbit with Potato Gnocchi

Desiree Potatoes

Braised Rabbit with Chestnut Mushrooms; Potato Gnocchi and Crispy Shallots

Matt Golinski Recipe

serves 6

 

This is a fabulous dish as the components can be assembled in stages over 2 days. The rabbit flavours actually improve with being cooked the previous day. Just store and flake the meat from the bones on the day of use. A good chicken stock makes a better braise.

 

1 x 1.5 kg fresh rabbit, jointed 6 pieces

1 onion, diced

Desiree Potatoes Mouli

1 stick celery, diced

1 leek, washed and diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

4 sprigs lemon thyme

2 bay leaves

8 peppercorns

Gnocchi Dough

flour for dusting

250 gm chestnut mushrooms

50 gm butter

 

3 cups potato, peeled, boiled, drained and pushed through a ricer or mouli

1/2-1 cup flour

1 egg yolk

Gnocchi Prep

 

6 golden shallots, finely sliced

 

 

Saute vegetables, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns until soft and beginning to colour.  Transfer to a casserole or deep tray.  Rinse the rabbit and pat dry on paper towels.  Dust with seasoned flour and shallow fry in a heavy pan until golden.  Arrange pieces on top of vegetables and pour over boiling stock.  Cut a piece of greaseproof paper to fit the inside of the casserole, place on top of the rabbit.

Braise in oven for one and a half to two hours at 170 degree C or until the meat easily flakes off the bones.  Allow to cool in the liquid, remove meat from bones, flaking into chunks.  Strain braising liquid and reduce to 500ml.

 

FOR THE GNOCCHI

Cool potato slightly and gently mix in egg yolk, flour and seasoning.  Turn onto bench and knead by hand until dough just comes together, do not over-mix.  Roll into 2cm thick logs and cut each into 1cm pieces.  Roll each piece across the back of a fork on each side to make indents and drop onto a floured tray.  Blanch the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling salted water.  As the gnocchi rises transfer with a slotted spoon to iced water. Drain.

Potato Gnocchi

 

TO ASSEMBLE THE DISH

Fry the shallots in hot oil until golden and transfer to a tray covered with paper towel. Leave shallots somewhere warm so they stay crisp.

Saute the mushrooms in a little olive oil and add reduced braising liquid.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat and add rabbit. When heated through, remove from heat, swirl in butter.

Re-blanch the gnocchi and add to the sauce.  Check seasoning and split between six bowls.  Sprinkle with fresh thyme and top with crispy shallots.

Serve immediately.

Mushroom saute

Potato Gnocchi & Braised Rabbit

Fried golden shallotts

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Travels

The Mighty Charolais

I am besotted by the beasts. I think of them as happy cows. Originating around Charollais in the rolling hills and valleys of Charolles, Burgundy, they are well known throughout the world for the quality of the meat. The town of St. Christophe is at the heart of this cattle farming region, a big local event is the weekly livestock market on a Thursday. A good looking fixture in the fields of Burgundy, most of the Charolais I know are around the Cote de Beaune. Whatever the weather they look so pristine, wholly white or cream with pale lyre shaped horns. While the white cows are my favourites, I believe they can also come with a black coat, as well as quite a pleasing shade of brown.

They seem to genuinely like each other and are sprightly, not at all bovine, even though the well muscled bulls weigh in at around 1,300kg, the cows being a slinky 900kg or so. Tails flick, the young are playful, the grown ups watch benignly in proud parental groups, and good humour seems evident as they take to the shade under tall trees, graze together or lazily flop about the fields.

Michel Troisgras, the third in the line of the famous Troisgras family of chefs, prepares a variety of stunning dishes made with this beef. Steak with Melted Shallots, Beef ‘Fleurie’ with Marrow and Poached Sirloin with Porcini Mushrooms and Chinese Vermicelli, each of the three generations of Troisgras has made Charolais beef its own.

Appreciated for the low fat content, this breed is very fertile, provides good milk production and grows rapidly. Naturally fed on a mixture of grass, hay and grain, many chefs in Burgundy use the red-label Charolais in dishes with butter, red wine and marrow, ingredients that enhance the natural flavour. Today, the Charolais may be found in seventy countries on five continents, although their main representation is in Burgundy and the Vendee.

Well worth noting is that from October 1st 2010, CHAROLAIS beef has been awarded an appellation d’origine contrôlée, making the meat from Burgundy and the Rhône-Alpes the fourth French beef variety with an AOC.

Official AOC Boeuf de Charolles will now have to come from one of 355 designated communes in the east of France.

Charolais sheep and goats are popular and have been much in demand for export as breeders. Charolais goat’s milk cheese became AOC in January this year.

My warm feelings are reserved for the Charolais cattle however this has not discouraged me from eating their perfectly marbled, tender, moist and buttery flesh with nutty, spicy notes. Happy cows? Must be happy farmers…….


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Recipes

Walnut Romesco Sauce

From a Delia Smith recipe, with a little cook’s individual license.

I love this walnut sauce and happily eat it by the spoonful. Today I was determined to make it to accompany a wild mushroom and egg tart. After raiding the garden and the fridge, the only chillies I could find were red, with seeds, already blended with a little vinegar to a puree and in a jar.

I replaced the green chillies in the recipe below with 3 good teaspoons of the puree de piment and the walnut sauce was a winner.

The amount and heat of chilli can be tailored to personal choice, this recipe is of medium heat, leaving some taste buds intact to appreciate the complete dish. The sauce teams beautifully with chicken, pork or fish cooked on the barbeque. It is also a delicious sauce to serve with the wild mushroom and egg tart.

3 large cloves garlic, peeled, whole but squashed

3 green chillies, halved and de-seeded (or puree, see above)

50 g (1 3/4 oz) shelled walnuts, fresh as possible

6 ripe plum tomatoes, skins removed, cut in half lengthways

200 ml (7fl oz) extra virgin olive oil, approx

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

 

In a medium sized, solid based frying pan, heat 1-2 tablespoon of the oil over a medium heat. Lightly saute the garlic cloves for about 3 minutes, until softened and golden.

Add the chillies and walnuts, cook another 2-3 minutes. Tip into food processor and return the pan to a high heat, pour in another 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the oil begins to smoke, put in the tomatoes, cut side down. Keep the heat high and cook the tomatoes until they are charred and blackened all over, 1-2 minutes each side.

Add the tomatoes to the processor, turn on at low speed and with the motor running add the rest of the oil in a slow steady stream. The sauce should thicken to become the consistency of a mayonnaise. Season, add the balsamic vinegar, stir and transfer to a bowl or container. Chill, cover and store until needed.

Before using bring the sauce to room temperature.

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Food Thoughts

Walnuts; my latest foodie affair

Be kind to yourself, don’t ever eat another old walnut!

Perigord in the south west of France boasts majestic groves of walnut trees. Here in Burgundy they grow more randomly throughout the countryside, more orderly cultivation can be found in the agriculturally rich Morvan department. Many of these farming families still cultivate walnut trees to supplement their market income. Used throughout the centuries variously to pay rents, tithes to the church and with walnut oil considered at times as precious as gold for trading, there is evidence that the walnut has been growing in France for centuries.

Baskets of freshly picked walnuts in their smooth, firm pale shells began appearing at the local markets around the end of September. Now, at the height of their short October – November season I revel in collecting them along the country lanes I take for my morning walk. Whether gathered roadside or bought from the market, the very freshest nuts feel slightly damp to the touch, drying as the week progresses, well the few that survive that long. Although walnuts require a decent hammer or nut cracker to share their ‘pearl’, they crack cleanly to reveal moist white meat, creamy on the palate with a sweet, softly tannic or fresh slightly green taste with supple skins, not at all like the bitter skin found on aged nuts.

Fossicking the markets and laneways, I have been lucky to find both white and black walnuts. Small nuggetty walnuts still attached to the last of their protective furry coats, large smooth clean dry walnuts, some soaked, others pickled, all in their shells, every one of them a wonderful experience.The black walnuts are said to taste stronger, a little more naturally tart, however I didn’t find this so with the fresh nuts. I can honestly endorse both varieties as absolutely delicious.

Walnuts are a source for a wide variety of minerals, vitamins and amino acids, their high content of omega-3 fats assist in maintaining weight, aid in the prevention of gallstones and are a factor in bone density.

A great snack on their own………they are a marvellous addition to cakes, salads, breads, confectionery and vegetables.

If I can resist devouring them as I shell then a couple of my favourite quick uses are either quickly roasted and tossed with steamed tiny green beans drizzled with organic extra virgin olive oil or mixed into a quick salad with finely shaved baby savoy cabbage, shaved pecorino cheese and a light Dijon mustard dressing.

I am off to crack some more shells so I have fresh walnuts to test my new coffee and walnut cake recipe. After my research, the growing pile of shells will become kitty litter for the family next door……..

That is about as good as it gets!

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Recipes

Spiced madeleines

12 small madeleines, best eaten the day they are baked or the next if they last that long!

I suggest these as an excellent accompaniment for the Preserved Vodka Plums.

125g butter + extra for greasing moulds

4 eggs, room temperature

175g sugar

50g ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

150g flour + extra for flouring moulds

1/2 teaspoon mixed spice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt butter and cool. Whisk eggs till slightly thick, add sugar slowly, beat till light and fluffy. Mix together remaining dry ingredients and fold through, then fold through the melted butter.

Butter and flour the madeleine moulds, place a teaspoon of mixture in each mould (i.e.2/3 fill each mould) and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Place madeleines in oven and bake for approx. 8 minutes or until a light golden brown. Remove and turn out on a rack to cool 15 minutes. Serve as they are or dust with fine sugar.

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Recipes

Plums preserved in Vodka (or Brandy)

The best recipe I could find for my French plums I found in Elizabeth David’s ‘French Provincial Cooking’. I took the liberty of making some adjustments to her original recipe, starting with a completely different variety of plum.

 

The branches on the tree in my garden were hanging low, covered in medium sized shiny blue-purple plums. A bite revealed a deep mauve interior and released a slightly tart juice, delicious.This recipe requires the plums to be slightly under-ripe.

 

If possible leave the stems on, pierce the plums through to the stone with a skewer 3 or 4 times in different places. Place the skewered plums in a bowl of cold water until they are all ready.

Bring a good size pot of water to the boil, then gently add all the plums, bring back to a fast boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, lift all the fruit into a large china bowl.

 

For each kilogram of fruit, measure 750 gm of pure clear honey and approx.125 ml water.

I used 3 kg of fruit, hence :

2.25 kg honey

360 ml water.

1 cinnamon stick

4 green cardamom pods

1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthways

zest of 1 lemon (no pith)

4 sprigs mint

700 ml very good vodka (or brandy)

 

 

 

In a large pan, boil the honey and the water together until it is bubbling with little surface beads. Throw in the fruit, the cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla bean and the lemon zest, leave until it comes to the boil again, then immediately return the fruit to the bowl and pour the syrup over the fruit. Throw in the mint sprigs. Cool and cover.

 

Leave for 24 hours, next day pour off the syrup and bring it to the boil, put in the fruit and all the flavourings, bring back to the boil. Return the fruit to the bowl and again pour the syrup over the fruit and leave until cold.

 

Once cold, pack the plums into sterilised glass jars. Boil the syrup until it has thickened to a lovely viscous but pourable syrup. Strain the syrup and when cold mix it with a bottle of very good vodka or a fine brandy. Pour the syrup to cover the fruit in the jars.

Seal the jars, label, date and store out of the sunlight for at least a month before opening.

 

The drunken plums are wicked when served in a small dessert glass with a little of the syrup poured over, and on the side, a madeleine and a small spoonful of thick cream.

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Recipes

Peach chutney

From my one peach tree the fruit just kept coming, so following the poaching, bottling and jam, it was chutney time…..

The peaches I used were straight from the tree, ripe, white and a freestone variety which made peeling and stoning very easy.

This was my first attempt at peach chutney, I had never before been surrounded by such a luxurious abundance of fresh fruit. Reaching quickly for a basic recipe, I found a copy of The Cook’s Companion, the kitchen ‘bible’ of our iconic Australian food writer and cook, Stephanie Alexander. It was comfortably sitting on the bookshelf surrounded by a variety of French classics, here in my borrowed kitchen in Burgundy.

This is basically Stephanie’s recipe with a few individual additions on the day.

1.5 kg peaches, peeled

1.5 kg brown sugar

5 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled, finely chopped

1 stick cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoon salt

2 fresh long red chillies, seeded, finely chopped

3 cups good cider vinegar

2 apples, unpeeled and grated

3 onions, finely chopped

150 gm blonde raisins

1 long strip of orange peel (no white pith)

To make the job easier, blanch the peaches for 30-60 seconds, then gently transfer to a chilled water bath with a slotted spoon. Peel, stone and cut the peaches into chunks.

Put all the ingredients into a heavy based stockpot and stir over heat until the sugar has dissolved and the chutney has come to boiling point. Boil steadily for 1 hour or until the chutney is thick.

Remove cinnamon stick before bottling into clean, sterilised jars*.

Seal, wipe down the jars with a warm cloth and store in a cool place away from sunlight.

I labelled all the jars and added the date of cooking.

* The easiest way to sterilise the jars is to run them, with their lids, through a full cycle in the dishwasher.

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Peach Jam

2 kg peaches

350 gm sugar

500gm pure honey
Peel of one lemon (no white pith)
Juice of 1-2 lemons
2 tablespoons brandy

4 green cardamom pods

1 vanilla bean

1 cinnamon stick

2 cm fresh ginger, peeled
Cut peaches into chunks, leave skins on and take out the stones. Set aside about 8 stones. Use really ripe peaches for flavour and some less ripe ones as these have a higher pectin level. Before making your jam, store the peaches at room temperature, this helps keep the pectin levels high.

Put the cut peaches into a pot and simmer at a very low heat, add the lemon peel, it balances the sweetness of the sugar and honey and also increases the levels of pectin.

Tie the stones in to a clean absorbent cloth and add the bundle to the peaches continuing to simmer and stir every now and then to prevent burning the bottom of the saucepan.
When the fruit seems cooked take out the bag of stones and stir in the sugar, honey, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean scrapings. Add the lemon juice to check the flavour.

Cook until the jam begins to thicken.  This can take some time, be patient, it is well worth the wait. Test for setting by taking a spoonful and putting it on a white saucer to see if it sets in the fridge.

Just before pouring into the jars add brandy. Seal the jars.

I put the jars in the dishwasher to sterilise, but you can use clean jars, fill them to the top and then invert them so that the hot jam sits on the lid and so all sides of the jar are ‘sterilized’ by the hot jam. Once cold wipe the jars well.

Once you have opened the jar, refrigerate the jam until the pot is finished.

http://www.stephaniealexander.com.au/

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Bottled Harmony peaches

There a two old French peach varieties – l’Admirable tardie and Gross Noire de Montreuil – much admired by Emile Zola for their fine clear skin, like that of the girls in the north of France however I felt both names a bit of a mouthful for this modern peach recipe. So I have decided to refer to these peaches as ‘Harmony’, a variety I found on an American site, as I cannot be certain of the variety of peach tree we have in the garden. There is an Australian variety which appears to also fit the description of my peaches – Anzac, lovely. I know it is freestone, white and very old.  It is a lovely variety to bottle due to the free stone, displaying an obvious crimson rosy glow once peeled. They have a delicious full peachy flavour and hold up beautifully in the bottle.

  1. Sterilise the jars and rings in a dishwasher on the hottest setting. Leave them in the dishwasher until you’re ready to use them, because you want them to be hot.

I use preserving jars in the large or medium size, and attach the rubber ring before sterilising.

Or place your jars in a deep saucepan or boiling pot, with water to come above the top of the bottles, boil for 10 minutes. If the lids are separate, place them in a small saucepan and heat to a simmer, but don’t boil. Turn off and leave until required.

2.  Wash your peaches by rinsing in a colander.

  1. Place them into a pot of boiling water and blanch for 30 to 60 seconds
  2. After blanching, place them into an ice water bath to arrest the cooking.
  3. Peel the peaches. The skins should just fall off easily. My peaches were reasonably small so as I peeled them by hand, I removed the loose stone and gently pulled them into halves. I also left some whole with the stone intact. If your peaches are larger, you may want to quarter them, so that you can fit more in the bottles and for easier serving. If needed you could use a little lemon juice to stop the peaches from browning, but I prefer to only blanch as many peaches as I can peel in one session, approx 3kg. at a time.
  4. While you are blanching and peeling the peaches make a syrup. I like a light syrup because I just don’t think it is necessary to use the huge amount of sugar that older recipes call for. I used:

7 cups water and 3 cups pure apple juice

1 cups sugar, a strip of lemon peel (no white pith)

1 cinnamon stick

2 cup of pure honey.

Bring it all to a boil in a large saucepan, simmer while you are processing the peaches. This amount of syrup will do approximately 9-12 kg of peaches. It keeps well for a few days in a capped bottle in the fridge if you don’t need to do all the peaches at once.

  1. I decided to cold pack the peaches, bottle and then simmer. Put the halved or quartered peaches cut side facing down in hot and sterilized bottles. Or pack the whole peaches in without crushing them too much. Pack the peaches to the lip of the bottle. If you pack the peaches in fairly tightly, without squashing them, they are less likely to float.
  2. Carefully ladle the hot syrup into the bottles until the peaches are just covered. Leave only a 1.5 cm space at the top of the bottle.
  3. Use a flat sided knife and slide it down several sides of the bottle to release any excess air bubbles.
  4. With a clean damp cloth, wipe around the rim of your bottle.
  5. Cap you bottles, make sure the rubber ring is in place.
  6. In a very large, wide stock pot half filled with hot, not boiling water, place the filled bottles with a small space between each bottle. It is essential not to place the bottles into boiling water or let them touch, as this prevents breakages. Cover the bottles with about 2.5 cm water. Turn up the control to the highest heat.
  7. Once the water has reached a vigorous boil, turn the heat down to maintain a gentle boil during processing for 45 minutes. Keep a jug of hot water handy in case you need to top up the water to keep the bottles covered.
  8. Once the bottling process is finished. Lay out a towel and carefully remove the bottles from the hot water. Place them, again with a space between each bottle on the towel to cool.

Your peaches can now be stored in a dark place for months or opened whenever you feel like them. They can be drained and used in sweet tarts or cakes. Spooned over yoghurt or ice-cream, or blended with ice, some of the syrup, a little fresh fruit juice, yoghurt and fresh mint sprigs to make a fabulous refreshing morning shake.

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