Having made our own dehydrator, we have successfully made some fruit leather. Started with blackcurrant as these ripened first. Not a difficult decision.
So took some fruit and added some lemon juice. This is to help keep the colour apparently. put that in a saucepan and simmer until soft. Blitz that with a stick blender removing any big lumps. Taste and add honey if you want to. Spread this out thinly on a parchment lined baking tray and whack it in the dehydrator in the sun.
Leave it until it is no longer tacky to touch then remove it. Take it off the parchment, cut it up, roll it into, well, rolls, and put in the fridge.
Great hill food to accompany a sandwich and the internet seems to suggest it will keep for up to a month.
Incidently, we measured the temperature inside the solar dehydrator to be 55 degrees centigrade. Not sure whether that is good or not but it seems to work well.
With the fruit bushes laden and plenty of jam already in the cupboard for the winter season in Chamonix we decided to make a dehydrator. It is basically a box with a glass pane and some vents. There are a couple of shelves inside to put produce on. Pop it in the sun and the air in the box warms up. An air current takes the moisture out of the box and the things inside dry up.
Commercial versions use power and have knobs on with different settings. Ours is compact and made of scrap.
Wood is from the back of the van which we took apart last year
Hinges were salvaged from a caravan
The handle was on a door salvaged from Chamonix
Double glazed unit salvaged years ago from somewhere
Shelves salvaged from an old oven at the tip
Fly mesh for the vents, left over from making window fly meshes
First test was with some small tomatoes which needed using up. Within a day sat on the front terrace we had sun dried tomatoes. Next is blackcurrants unless the mushrooms start appearing first.
Solar DehydratorThe sample batchThe result after one daySun dried tomatoes
The last time we made gooseberry jam it came out more like some industrial adhesive suitable for use underwater for repairing oil rigs. Though there may have been a market for it we had insufficient sully to meet the probable demand.
This time we think we have a winner (on the edible front without removing teeth).
Gooseberries generally are high in pectin and come in two basic types. One is green and hard and generally stays that way and the other ripens later to a purple colour and sweetens and is great for tarts and fruit salads. For jam use the former and pick at the same time as the elderflowers are out.
6-8 heads of elderflowers
Clean, top and tail the gooseberries and put in a jam pan with the water. Bring to the boil and stir occasionally for about 20-30 minutes until softened. Meanwhile cut the stems off the flowers and place in a muslin bag. Once soft add the sugar and the muslin bag, boil the mix while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil hard until setting point is reached at 104 â€“ 105 degrees. It may have a tendency to burn as the fruit settles out so stir occasionally. Once ready pour into warmed jars and seal for storage.
Last year we found about 8 litres of Gin in the barn. Some we gave away and some we drank but we still hd 2 litres this summer. So we have masserated a litre with rhubarb and berries.
300g of berries – strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
200g rhubarb, roughly chopped
750ml or 1litre Gin
Rhubarb and Berry Gin
Chop up the berries and the rhubarb and add to sterilised preserving jars with the sugar. Pour over the Gin and seal. Give a shake and store in a dark cool place. Give them a little shake daily and repeat for at least 5 days and up to 3 weeks for a stronger flavour. Once masserated strain through a large sieve lined with muslin or coffee filters and bottle. Either in sterilised bottles or back in the Gin bottle.
Drink either neat or with soda water and ice for a long summer drink.
I don’t know why we do it but just as we are getting ready to leave our beautiful abode in the Pyrenees we realise that we have been hermits and not seen anyone. Tis the time to wine and dine friends. Tis also an opportunity to try out new recipes and get feedback with a view to increasing the winter repetoir in the Chalet in Chamonix.
We have had great fun adapting some Spanish recipes courtesy of Mr Stein and also a trio of lovely deserts.
A great marinated chicken for the BBQ. This is enough for about 4 people.
Prepare the marinate with –
A fresh chilli chopped
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
4 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp lime juice
We prepared the marinate to day before and marinated the chicken for a couple of hours before cooking. You can either use boneless chicken thighs or with the bone but then scissoring the meat up to the bone.
The social theme continues as Peter and Alison are coming to lunch with Alison’s parents.
Another mad morning of making salads, dressings and marinating chicken for the BBQ. Great marinate by the way.
Ginger Soy chicken
Can use chicken breasts slashed or chicken legs/thighs scissored. A great way to do it is putting everything in a ziplock bag with the meat and giving it all a good massage. Then place in the fridge for up to 2 hours before cooking.
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic crushed
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp sesame oil (toasted if you have it)
1 tbsp dry sherry or port
8 tbsp soy sauce
This time lunch was prepared to be had on the side terrace as access is easier and it is not so far to fall off.
Another great day with good company only slightly marred when a big gust of wind snapped the parasol. Mendable I think, just add it to the list.
Another evening where we did not need to eat. Instead we settled by the fire and watched and old Clint Eastwood film with an oragutan.
This is a recipe I snaffled off Anne Swan (great friends of Mum and Dad’s) and a superb cook. It is really delicious. Make sure you use chunky swordfish steaks. We had lots of fresh herbs from the garden so it was truly scrummy and we will be doing again for sure.
John and Shirley gave me a lovely cook book last year “The Contented Cook” and I found this recipe in it. We both loved it, very simple and went perfectly with all our home grown veg and the lamb chops we had for dinner.
Leeks cut into 5 inch lengths and steamed.
Make a dressing
1tbps red wine vinegar
1tbsp grain mustard
1tbsp dijon mustard
5tbsp olive oil
Chopped parsley to garnish.
Once leeks are steamed, cut in half and arrange on serving dish.
Pour dressing over it and then sprinkle with chopped parsley.