Fortunately the spice weakling that is DJ managed not to choke after sampling the chutney despite the chilli powder. He bravely insisted that the heat was not down to the chilli but the cider vinegar. Ah!
But evasive action must be taken on the citrus fruit front before the pair of us disappear from public view and are found weeks later buried under a pile of rotting pommes. So yesterday I went apple mad, making three jars of apple & ginger jam, an apple pie and then using the peelings to try to start off some cider vinegar. All while Alistair Darling was trotting out his pre-budget on TV. I’m sure he and Gordon Brown would have approved of my prudence – maybe they could learn something!
I was shocked at how peasy apple jam is to make (this is a Marguerite Patten recipe from an old cook book). Take a pound of apples (once peeled and cored), two teaspoons of ginger and half a pint of water and put in a big pan. Plus get a piece of muslin and stick the cores and peel in it and put it in the pan too. Simmer it all without a lid on until the mixture is a smooth pulp. Then stick in a pound of sugar and stir until dissolved. Next boil the mixture without stirring and check to see if it’s set. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer (as I don’t) you can do this by taking a spoonful and putting it on a cold plate to cool. Take the jam off the heat while you do this. Then when it’s cool push it to see if the spoonful has a skin that wrinkles when you do so – if so then it’s ready to put into the jars. Sterilise the jars before you use them.
The cider vinegar is mad really – you sterilise a casserole dish or other crock with a lid, put in the peelings and cores from at least 12 apples and then pour enough water in to cover it all and then leave it for a few days.
Despite my misgivings the jam turned out well. Between that and the apple pie which was ok but needs work – I used 12 apples but there are tonnes left over! Next on the agenda is probably a cake. There’s also dried apple rings which, according to DJ, make a tasty, healthier snack. But you have to bake them in the oven on a low heat for five hours, so not sure how frugal that is.
Incidentally, we had a result with the broken oven. I rang the manufacturer and was persuaded to sign up for an insurance plan for £149 – ok not so frugal but we were able to pay over a year without interest, and if it couldn’t be fixed they would replace it. Not signing up meant a call-out fee of a whopping £85 before parts etc.. I was in two minds as I hate these policies but agreed. In the event the oven fan cost £189 to fix but the policy covered it, so we now have a working oven and haven’t yet paid a penny. Yay! What’s more, the engineer told me lots of bizarre stories about fixing washing machines in lap dancing clubs, which made my day!