Lammas and Blackcurrants and Hares, Oh My!

The weather has cooled right down here just recently, though it still feels a little close at times – a series of thunderstorms took the worst of the heat out of the air, and the fields are now heading towards harvest, if we get enough dry days together in order for them to do so.  Out in the hedgerows, I’ve been out checking how the plums and damsons are ripening up, and we’ve got what looks to be a bumper crop to expect at the end of the month.  The blackberries are starting to ripen up as well, so the first lots of blackberry jelly and blackberry wine will be on the brew soon.   Today, however, I have been playing with blackcurrants, which are currently in season and doing beautifully!

Bramley apples and blackcurrants
Bramley apples and blackcurrants

Bramley and Blackcurrant Fruit Cheese

I’ve never made fruit cheese before, so this has been a real experiment.   Very easy to make, but don’t take your eye off it for more than about five minutes during the second stage, as it sticks and burns really easily!

You will need:  At least two large bramley apples (I used four, and it was actually too big a batch, with hindsight)

300g of blackcurrants

2 lemons

a tiny bit of water

Instructions:

Peel and core the apples, then roughly chop them and put them into a heavy based pan, along with the cleaned and de-stalked blackcurrants, the zest and the juice of the two lemons and a tiny bit of water.  By tiny bit, I mean no more than about three tablespoons worth.  Put on a low heat and simmer it for at least an hour until the apples fragment and dissolve.  Push the whole lot through a sieve – you should only have about a tablespoon of pulp left over as the rest should go through the sieve easily.   Measure out how much pulp you have, and add an equivalent amount of granulated sugar.  I like to use raw organic cane sugar or fairtrade sugar if possible!

Stewed fruit, just before the sugar was added!  This lot turned a gorgeous rich red brown once the sugar was added and it had been boiled a while.
Stewed fruit, just before the sugar was added! This lot turned a gorgeous rich red brown once the sugar was added and it had been boiled a while.

Put the pulp and sugar on a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for at least an hour.   According to the recipe I was following, the pulp should get to the point where it is semi solid in the pan, but mine didn’t – maybe something I’ve done wrong, but since the finished product has not finished setting yet, it is too soon to tell!  I poured some of the pulp into jars part of the way through cooking, so that it makes a fairly firm fruit butter.  The rest got put back into the pan and boiled thoroughly for a while longer, then poured into a greased pottery dish.  I’ve let it cool and it has just been put in the fridge.   The plan will be to slice it, dust it in icing sugar and then wrap the slices in greaseproof paper.  It should keep for up to 12 months, and is lovely either on its own or with a good, strong cheese.

Better yet, the cores and peel can be put into a covered pot with some water and then left in a cool, dark place for a few weeks, to make the first batch of this year’s cider vinegar!

Oh, and just to end things off with – here are the latest two hare stencil designs!

Harvest Hares!
Harvest Hares!

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