Bob’s fruity brown sauce

Digital CameraMy brother-in-law asked for some of this sauce for his birthday so I’ve renamed it in his honour.  I’ve made several versions of this in the past few years and have a “bung it in” attitude to the spices and dried fruits, which has led to some interesting variations in colour and heat.  This latest batch is a bit pink, and a tad more heavy on the chili than previously, because you can never guess how hot a chili is until it’s in there… This makes the equivalent of about 4 x1lb jamjars.

  • 500g fresh rhubarb (I’ve also used tinned rhubarb occasionally – in which case drain it well, and cut down a bit on the demerara sugar)
  • 250g red onions
  • 1 long red chili, deseeded
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 200g cooking apple, peeled and grated
  • 20g (about 2cm) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 heaped teaspons ground ginger
  • 1 dessertspoon paprika
  • 75g sultanas
  • 50g dried cherries or dried cranberries or dried dates
  • 200ml red wine vinegar
  • 50ml balsamic vinegar
  • 1 dessertspoon salt
  • 500g demerara sugar

Trim and chop the rhubarb finely.  Peel and chop the onions into small dice.  Deseed the chili and chop that finely too, making sure you protect your hands with rubber gloves to avoid any chili juice being inadvertently rubbed in your eye (or worse…). Peel and grate the apple, and do the same with the fresh ginger. The ginger needs to be grated very finely so that it’s a mush because it’s very fibrous, and the texture of the finished sauce won’t be smooth if there are clumps of ginger in there.  Put all of the ingredients in a large, heavy bottomed pan and put on to simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Give it a stir occasionally.

The texture of the sauce when it’s cooked will be like runny chutney.  Take off the heat, leave to cool for a bit then put in a food processor (usually in two or three batches) and process until smooth.  Put into warmed sterilised jars or bottles and make sure you use vinegar-proof lids to seal.

The picture shows the latest batch – I think the cranberries and the particularly dark red onions I used have given it a rather nice pink tinge!  The bottles were from an online store which supplies all kinds of empty jars and bottles for home preservers – Wares of Knutsford.  You can visit their shop too – very nice people!

Advertisements

rhubarb jam

2014-04-17 09.51.46I love rhubarb. And the early forced rhubarb that is almost shocking pink is gorgeous, but unless you grow it yourself it’s hugely expensive!  This rhubarb came from the allotment of one of Chris’s colleagues, so it’s nice and young but not completely pink, and perfect for jam.

  • 1kg rhubarb, wiped, trimmed and chopped into 1cm chunks
  • 1kg jam sugar
  • 2 or 3 oranges
  • 75g stem ginger preserved in syrup

This quantity made four 1lb jars.  Put a layer of jam sugar in the bottom of your preserving pan and cover with a layer of rhubarb.  Continue layering the sugar and rhubarb, and finish with a layer of sugar.  Squeeze the juice from the oranges (should be about 100ml but it’s not a problem if there’s a bit more), and tip it over the sugar and rhubarb mixture.  Put the orange peel in the pan as well – you’ll be fishing this out at the end, so don’t bother chopping it up.  Chop the stem ginger pieces very finely and add those to the pan. Cover the pan with a clean teatowel and leave it for a couple of hours, or even overnight, to draw out some of the juice from the rhubarb.  This helps to keep the rhubarb chunks whole when you’re boiling it up.

When it’s been standing for a while, put it onto the hob and bring to the boil gently. Stir it carefully so that you don’t squash all the rhubarb chunks to mush.  When all the sugar as dissolved, turn up the heat to maximum and boil rapidly for about 5 minutes. Test for a set by pouring a bit onto a really cold plate and waiting a minute or so. If you can see the jam wrinkling up when you push your finger through it, then it’s done.  If it’s not, then keep boiling it for another few minutes and test again.  If it’s done, take it off the heat and leave it to settle for five minutes.  Take out the orange peel, then pour the jam into warmed sterilised jars.  We have an almost endless supply of empty jamjars thanks to Julie at the Eccles Cakery, who uses industrial quantities of jam for making cakes and gives us all the empties!

This recipe is based on one from the River Cottage Handbook on preserves, which is incredibly useful for all kinds of jam and chutney recipes.  I did tweak it quite a bit as the recipe called for forced rhubarb and a quick boil for a soft set, and I’ve made too much runny jam in my life to want to make more on purpose. Rhubarb contains very little pectin, so jam sugar is a must for this.