Monday, November 29, 2010

Ginger Beer 2

Sunday morning and the ginger beer plant was ready. It is a really simple process to make. Just melt 4 cups of sugar in 1 litre of water on the stove. Take off the heat and add a further 4 1/2 litres of cold water and 1/2 cup of lemon juice.

Strain the ginger beer plant through some muslin and add the strained liquid to the water and sugar mix. That's it.

Now pour the mix into some clean PET bottles, put the lids on and wait for about 2 weeks. I still always store the bottles in a shed outside but that is just out of habit. In the old glass bottle days, it was much safer to have them outside where the mess of an exploding bottle didn't matter so much!
To keep the plant going,  the residue in the muslin is divided in half. Put half back in your plant jar, add 1 cup lukewarm water, 1 teaspoon of sugar and ginger. Continue to add sugar and ginger each day for another week, then you can make up the recipe and bottle another batch. The second half of the residue either gets thrown out or made into another plant to share with a friend!
Happy drinking.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ginger Beer

Summer time barbecues are missing something if you don't have someone opening a bottle of ginger beer and it all fizzing up and going everywhere! Time to start the ginger beer plant. It is so easy to make ginger beer. First make a plant with 1 cup of warm water, 1 teaspoon each of ground ginger, sugar and yeast. Each day for a week, add another teaspoon of ginger and sugar and then by next weekend it will be ready to make up and bottle. Using PET bottles is so much better than glass ones because they don't risk exploding everywhere!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Manchego, Ricotta and Doce de abóbora (pumpkin jam)

Yesterday I tried out a new cheese recipe. This time it is a cheese I have only heard of recently – Manchego, a cheese from Spain, from the region of La Mancha. It is traditionally made from sheep’s milk but cow’s milk will just have to do this time.  A few weeks ago I went to a cheesemaking workshop which demonstrated making this cheese and also had a tasting platter of the finished product. Even though it was only a month or two old, it had a lovely strong flavour. This means that the cheese I made yesterday might just be ready in time for Christmas. After the curd is cut, it is heated gently in the whey for about 45 minutes to 40⁰C, then drained, hooped and pressed for several hours. It then sits in a brine bath overnight to dry out a little. It now has to air dry for a week before I wax it.
Since I had to stay in the kitchen for a while, stirring the curds, I decided to put some jam on to cook. We still have several of last season’s pumpkins so I had the idea of making pumpkin jam. When we were in Portugal last year visiting the little town in the mountains where my son’s father in law Fernando was born, we tasted a very nice pumpkin jam (Doce de abóbora) which was traditional to have with a soft fresh cheese (requeijão) and bread.  So I also had to put the whey from the cheese to good use to make some fresh ricotta just in time to have for lunch.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Multi fruit Marmalade

Another wet day so it is a good day to stay inside and do some cooking in the Preserving Patch Kitchen. I have never been a great fan of marmalade and have strong childhood memories of our house being permeated with the smell of cooking marmalade which I found a bit sickly sweet. Usually I love citrus things but that smell always put me off trying to make it myself. However with several citrus trees fruiting in the garden, I felt compelled to do something useful with them and have a go. I took this photo of my citrus grove on a nice sunny day a few weeks ago!
Today was the day. I pondered over which I should try of the vast number of recipes I have, to be assured of the best chance of success. I ended up doing a combination of recipes and also a combination of citrus. Orange, grapefruit, lemon and tangello were all mixed in together. Surprisingly the smell was not overpowering at all and I ended up with several jars of a beautiful orange red marmalade that I am sure my mum would have loved!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Planting Time in the Patch

First weekend in November - well at least today is November and in northern Tasmania it is a public holiday so I think that counts as the weekend still. First weekend in November especially in my neck of the woods, signals time to plant out frost tender plants like tomatoes, pumpkin, zucchini, squash, eggplant, capsicum, basil. The weather is still quite cold so I haven't put all my eggs in one basket and still have some tomato plants in reserve. However I did plant out all my pumpkins and zucchinis today. I just hope that where I have put them, down near the plum trees, they will be a little bit protected.
 Old pots make good protectors however if I suspect there might be  
frost, I pick some branches of something with a small foliage like myrtle, and poke them into the ground next to the seedling to provide an umbrella type shelter.
And remember those potatoes I planted in July/August? Take a look at them now. We should have a heap of new potatoes this year and plenty to put away for next year too. I think there are 5 or 6 different varieties to choose from and although some were a little slower than others to get going, they all seem to be doing well now. Just got to make sure to keep them covered so I don't end up with all green inedible spuds.