Saturday, 19 October 2013

Jelly, pears & millet

It's been a bit hectic at Chez Charnizay. Work has invaded with an increase in assessments and papers to mark before the Toussaint break as well as other necessary things on the home front such as having the boiler serviced before the winter.

We've also been busy in other ways. Kind friends in the village gave us a large bag of apples and some quinces so over the past weekends I've been making jelly. We also had some fruits from our own quince tree this year - there weren't many but those we did harvest were lovely and unblemished .
Some of apple jelly to the left, quince jelly to the right & poached pears in the large jars
In total I got 8 jars of apple jelly and made two kinds: four jars of classic apple with just a pinch of ground cinnamon, and four to which I added a mix of spices. It was a little bit of an experiment. I added 2 star anise, a cinnamon stick as well as 3 cloves to the roughly chopped apples when I boiled them. It seems to have worked fairly well. The colour is a little darker and the flavour is less overtly 'apple'. In both cases I used a standard jelly recipe and added a very generous teaspoon of lemon juice. I wanted the quince jelly to have just a hint of star anise, so I took a different approach.  I added 1 star anise together with the sugar to the quince juice and left it in for a few minutes as the liquid began to boil but then took it out. I am really quite pleased with the result. In all I got 4 jars of jelly from the quinces. Thank you to Pauline & Tim for spare jars!

Friends Susan & Simon kindly gave us some pears from their orchard and I poached them in wine. They'll make lovely eating when the winter weather sets in. I poached half the pears in white wine with vanilla and star anise. The other half were popped in red wine with vanilla, 5 cloves and a cinnamon stick.
Harvesting the millet


Harvesting: up close the machine is huge!
Eric has been very busy in the large field to the north of us last week. In the space of 5 days he harvested his millet, ploughed the field, prepped it, drilled it with seed for a new crop and lastly drove over it on a quad bike with some kind of mini hopper. As a result it is now all ready for winter. We have no idea what he has planted, but we'll will look forward to identifying it once the first shoots show themselves.



15 comments:

the fly in the web said...

Terrible when work interferes with preserving, isn't it....

I used to poach pears with cardamom, but the star anise sounds good too.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Fly - absolutely! And the wretched grass has grown so much it needs another cut! You turn your back for 1 second....

Oh cardamom sounds nice. Must try that the next time.

GaynorB said...

Busy, busy. You'll be needing a break!
I hate making more than anything else to do with my job. I like the sound of the extra kick the spices will provide.

rusty duck said...

That harvester looks to be in the garden with you!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Gaynor - Definitely looking forward to visiting family and friends in the UK next week.

Marking is the bane of teaching!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Rusty - pretty much! They drive it beautifully .... right along the edge but it is disconcerting when you're in the kitchen and this 'thing' looms up :-)

wcs said...

Ah, millet. I wish we could find it in the stores more easily. I love it. Do you know what your neighbor does with his? Export? Sale for bird seed?

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Walt - to be honest no idea! But I will ask next time he's up here or I run into him in the village.

JEH2011 said...

I remember the Qunice Jelly you kindly brought me last time... yum!!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jane - Another jar and one of apple coming your way :-)

John Gray said...

Looks like a lizard tail in the one on the right!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@John - LOL! It's the finest vanilla bean I'll have you know!

Vera said...

Those jellies look real good. Must have a go next year, and thanks for giving me the inspiration to do so.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Vera - what I like about jelly making is there's no fiddly peeling and coring. You just chop up roughly, boil until mush, let the strainer/jelly bag do the work of extracting the juice and there's always enough pectin for it to set.

BTW I don't have a jelly bag. I use a mesh bag [original use to wash delicates in machine :-)] which I fold x1 and use to line a sieve.

Perpetua said...

Those jellies and pears look wonderful - almost too pretty to eat. :-) Interesting to hear Eric has just harvested millet. I always think of millet as bird-seed, but it must have other uses, surely?