Wednesday 9 December 2015

Christmas Cooking - Cranberry Clementine Conserve with Brazil Nuts

I have been very busy with college work, so am behind in my annual Christmas cooking. But finally, last weekend I got started when I saw that cranberries were available in the grocery. At this point I no longer follow the original recipe, but do everything by eye. However, if you have never made this before, follow the recipe and then make your own adjustments for flavour, sweetness, yield, etc. So here is the recipe:
3 clementines, 1 lemon
1.75 -2 cups water
6 cups cranberries (2 standard packages)
3 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup chopped Brazil nuts

I used 3 x 250 g pkgs this year. It helps to spread the berries on a cookie sheet and pick through them, discarding badly blemished and/or mushy berries. My rule of food: if it doesn't look like you'd be happy to pop it into your mouth, you don't want it in your cooking.

It's easy to just pop berries that you're happy with into a bowl of water to give them a little wash.

This year I used between 100-125 g of Brazil nuts, and just gave them a quick whizz in the food processor to chop them finely. Put in a bowl and set aside.

 It's easiest to peel the lemon and clementines before juicing. Cut the zest finely in slivers. Juice the citrus fruit and set aside.

The citrus zest slivers are added to the water in a heavy bottom cooking pot. Cover pot and cook over low heat for about an hour. Check on pot during this time as the water should not be boiling madly, but simmering and you don't want the water to boil away.

Add the cranberries and cook gently. Berries will start "popping" after about 20 minutes; stir regularly and you can help them get jammy by squishing them with a wooden spoon.

Stir in the nuts.

Add juice and sugar and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly until conserve thickens. A tip I got somewhere years ago is to warm the sugar before adding to jams. I do this by putting into a bowl and sitting it in the top part of the oven (in Ireland the grill part, not turned on, but getting the heat from the main oven which is sterilising the jars).

There are different ways of sterilising jars. After washing and rinsing, I bake my jars for at least 20 mins at 200 C. Primarily I am using standard jam and mason jars that I brought with me from Canada, so the lids are being sterilised by boiling for at least 5 mins while I am doing everything else. Another tip: only add a small bit of hot conserve to hot jars at first to ensure that the glass doesn't crack. When it is apparent the glass is not going to break, fill jar leaving some headspace and seal using matching lid. If using recycled jars and paraffin, let the conserve cool a bit before pouring in wax; twirl jar a bit so that wax crawls up the sides of the opening, creating a full seal.

The yield for the recipe above is about 6 fancy jam jars. The one with the tin foil, is actually a larger jar, so I would have had 6+ jars. As a matter of fact, I used more berries than the recipe called for and I could have added more water than I did, which would have increased my yield. I have found that I can add more water and the conserve sets pretty well, though the colour can lose some of its intensity. This batch that I made last weekend is quite thick, but still spreadable. It is quite tasty and tart -- a fantastic accompaniment to turkey and turkey leftovers in sambos (mmm, toasties!) but I have also given this conserve as gifts to vegetarians, it is wonderful on toast too, just used as a jam.

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