Thursday, 23 September 2010

Courgette Jam and the Sorry Tale of Asparagus Peas

I suppose that it's about time to gather in the summer harvest before finally having to admit that the autumn is here.  I feel like I’ve eaten every courgette dish imaginable and I’ve made plenty of chutney but the courgette plants are still producing. So I've used a few of the spare courgettes to make this simple but pleasing jam. Actually, calling it a jam is a bit misleading since it's based loosely on a French confiture de courgettes and is intended for serving with cheese, pâté or other savoury bits and bobs. Of course, there's nothing stopping you spreading it on your toast in the morning; after all breakfast in France is just a small lunch.

You can use up any overgrown marrow-like courgettes in this jam, but only use the fleshy outer parts and discard the seedy core for best results. You can vary the mix of dried fruit as the mood and market takes you, but a few figs are particularly nice. The amount given here should make 3 standard jars.
Courgette Jam 1
900 g coarsely grated unpeeled courgettes (this is the weight after grating)
750 g  jam sugar (the one with added pectin)
100 g sultanas
60 g dried apricots, chopped
60 g dried figs, chopped
the zest and juice of 4 lemons
4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
A small amount of finely grated fresh ginger (a piece about 1 – 2 cm should be plenty)

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly in a large bowl, cover and leave overnight. This will blend the flavours, plump up the dried fruit and draw a lot of water out of the courgettes.

The next day, pour the whole lot into a jam or preserving pan. Bring to the boil, stirring to ensure that any errant sugar has dissolved. Boil gently until the jam reaches setting point. (Test using the old trick of saucers kept in the freezer. Put a drop of jam on a  cold saucer and push it with your finger after a minute – if it wrinkles, then the jam's ready.) How long the jam takes to reach this point will depend on how fiercely you boil and how much water was in the courgettes, but 20 – 30 minutes should be about right.

Let the jam cool a little then pour into warm sterilised jars.

Courgettes 3
The harvest of asparagus peas has proved a lot less useful. They turn up in a number of veg growing books as something a bit different that you might like to try. Well, I did try. They're reasonably easy to grow but despite the name they don't taste of asparagus or peas or anything else for that matter and they combine a lack of flavour with a rather unpleasant texture.

Not a plant I'd grow again but I have to admit that they're quite pretty.

Asparagus Peas

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