Posts Categorized: Preserving

Enter the Lara salami competition

I hope that grabbed your attention. The Lara Food and Wine Festival is holding an amateur competition for home made Jamon, prosciutto and other smallgoods on 23 March. If you are not familiar with the history of smallgoods in Melbourne, Lara looms large over all those making small goods today. The town’s Angel Cardoso was famous for his smallgoods but sadly was shut down by the food police – the same ones that prevent having more unpasteurized cheese. Angel died in March 2013 at the age of 78 having arrived in Australia in 1962. George Biron says Angel gained a reputation as the maker of Australia’s finest Spanish-style smallgoods, including jamon serrano hams, salamis and chorizo sausages. The Lara Food and Wine Festival’s aim is to hold an annual competition to judge the best home made and naturally cured smallgoods to honour, remember Angelo. Judges include food writer Richard Cornish, MoVida’s Frank Camorra, Rosa Mitchell, cheese mastro Richard Thomas and others including myself. Prizes are $500 $300 $200 and a perpetual trophy for overall winner. You can read more about it here.

Last of the summer jam

It’s late in the season and the blackberries are almost over. I love this time of year. It’s a time for blackberry and apple pie. And jam making, a wonderful way to preserve any fruit. We used to stomp through blackberry bushes making prickly mazes, hooking far flung fruit with walking sticks collected from dead relatives. We’d return home grazed, pricked and with purple fingers and lips from scoffing the sweet fruit. Jam making should be simple – for most it is a 1:1 ratio of fruit and granulated sugar – but it all depends on the level of pectin, which sets the jam, and acid in the fruit. But before you do anything sterilise the jars by boiling them. They needn’t be anything fancy and if you have to buy them check out Asian supermarkets first where they only cost a few dollars each. And wash the fruit properly. Apples, Gooseberries and Quince are all high in pectin, as are citrus – oranges and lemons. But soft fruits including strawberries, blackberries, peaches, apricots and plums are low in it. As is rhubarb. Pectin levels will become lower the more ripe it is or if there have been some kinds of fungal infection. Rather than use a commercial jam setter though, the easiest way to add pectin is to add citrus peel to the jam. Weight the fruit. The ratio generally is 1:1 fruit to caster granulated or preserving sugar. You can also test for pectin, which can be a wise move, as it’s saves having to fiddle around with jam that won’t set later. First cook the fruit, without the sugar, but for every 1kg, the juice and rind of a lemon (which you can wrap in muslin). Simmer the fruit first. Without sugar. But with lemon juice and rind. To test, take one teaspoon of the pulp and let it cool in a teacup. Add three teaspoons of methylated spirits. If one big blob forms there is a lot of pectin. If 3 or 4 smaller blobs form it’s medium in pectin. And if it’s lots of small blobs you really need to add more lemon peel. Heat the sugar to body temperature in the oven. Before you do anything more ensure you’ve warmed the sugar in the oven. This stops it reducing the temperature of the fruit. Heat until setting point. 220C. The next step is to… Read more »