About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Things to do with preserved fruit

Late last summer, I made bilberry and blackberry jam.

Bilberry and blackberry jam

It's OK, but not that great. It didn't set very well and the flavour's not particularly strong. I find my heart sinking at the prospect of working my way through the umpteen jars of it still in the cupboard. This is not good. I need another use for it.


Cake is good!

I added a couple tablespoonfuls to my usual cupcake recipe, reducing the sugar content slightly to compensate (6 oz flour, 3 oz each of butter and sugar, reduced to 2 oz sugar, 2 eggs, bicarb/cream of tartar*, skip the vanilla essence). The result was excellent! Soft, moist sponge cake, distinct but not overwhelming fruit flavour. Note: If you try this recipe, make sure you put enough cream of tartar in. I reduced the quantity the second time, thinking there'd be enough acid in the fruit to make the bicarb fizz (there was) and it changed the colour of the cakes from pink (cooked to brown on top, looking deceptively like chocolate cake) to dark blue. Not so appetising. Still tasty, though.

My second experiment was not so much about using up preserved fruit as making a special treat. I made damson fruit leather (amongst others) at around the same time as I was making jams. These have kept very well in not-very airtight tins - some have got a bit sticky, but all are still tasty and no sign of mould. A while ago I tried the damson one with a little mascarpone cheese. The result was heaven! I decided to save the rest to serve like this as party food.

So it was that on Saturday evening, I was cutting damson fruit leather into little squares and making little cheese sandwiches, with a good dollop of mascarpone between each pair of squares. And then I forgot to get them out of the fridge with the rest at Sunday lunchtime. I remembered them in the evening, and got them out, by which time the fruit leather had drawn nearly all the moisture out of the cheese, making the cheese firm instead of creamy and the leather squidgy instead of firm. The net result was very disappointing. Top tip: Don't bother making these in advance for guests, make them and eat them immediately, all for yourself.

To rescue the situation, I whizzed the sandwiches up with milk and sugar (that sounds like I just stuck it all in the blender and pushed the button. I did, but there was also a lot of poking it with a wooden spoon handle), whisked a couple of egg whites I had left over, and I now have damson and mascarpone ice cream setting in the freezer.


* I ran out of baking powder a while back and used a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar instead, and the result was much better. No more baking powder for me!


  1. Phwoar - that ice cream sounds ace. Do you need to do anything else to it, stir it up or anything? Last week I had a bit of a leftovers purge. Had a few spoonfuls of ricotta cheese and half a tin of coconut milk so I shoved them in some buns with a few swirls of plum jam. They are pretty good, but it's definitely the jammy blobs that raise them above just so so...

    1. In theory I should have stirred the ice cream every hour or so during freezing, but in practice I started feeling ill a little while after putting it in the freezer and haven't touched it since. It will probably be rather solid when I take it out.

  2. I'm impressed with your ingenuity. I have never attempted to make jam or preserves, because I never eat jam or preserves! Once every five years or so I get a hankering for it and buy a small jar, but inevitably most of it goes to waste. Perhaps I just need to "think outside the jar" so to speak!

    1. No, I wouldn't make jam if I didn't eat it often, either. I'm completely sold on jam in cakes for using up the excess, though.

  3. ha ha that posting did make me laugh! I find it easier just to give my excess jam to my mother in law and anybody else who will take it - so long as I get the empty jars back I don't care!

    1. If my jam was good enough to give away I'd be eating it myself ;-)

  4. Me again - this time to give you a Sunshine Award!



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