We've now been back in New Zealand for a little over a week and we're slowly settling into the heat and the increased free time we seem to have accumulated. But don't worry, that free time is not going to waste. No Sir. Well, most of it anyhow. We have come back to a country full of ripening fruit and veggies just waiting to be preserved.
The first thing I did when I came back (after unpacking of course) was to call up my Austrian friend, Ursula, and get myself invited over to learn how to make Walnut Liquor using green walnuts. We collected a basket full from her walnut tree out back and she dutifully wrote down the instructions for me to follow at home. This was something totally new for me, so I will have a long wait for the 8 weeks to pass until I can sieve it and give it a try.
On Saturday, Stephen and I got out to our weekly market visit and were absolutely floored by the amount and variety of fruit already ripe. I swear it was at least a couple of weeks later last year. Oh well. We loaded up on cherries (right at the end of their season), apricots (just starting), strawberries, raspberries (from the North Island) and tomatoes (for tasty chutney or relish or both). On the way home we came across several plum trees dripping with fruit so we obliged by lightening the boughs and bringing home our amazing finds.
With the table groaning under the weight of all that fruit we knew we had to get to work. So yesterday afternoon, we cranked out some strawberry and vanilla jam, and some plain old delicious raspberry jam. This morning I made up some plum and star anise jam and this afternoon, we'll make up some tasty cherry jam. The kitchen is sticky with sugar and the house is warm with all that steam filling it up, but our cupboards are filling up with the glimmering jars of jewel toned preserves. Ready to fill our dreary winter with their bright sunshiney tastes.
Walnut Liquor (from Ursula)
2L vodka (38-42%, make sure it's good stuff as the quality of the vodka will directly affect the quality of your finished product)
1 cinnamon stick
35-40 green walnuts (they need to be young enough to that the shell has not started to form inside the meat - you'll know if it has when you cut into them)
1 Tbsp cloves
750g sugar (warmed - place in a cake pan in the oven and heat to ~180 centigrade, stirring evey so often with a spoon to keep it from clumping)
Peel from 2 lemons (keep the pieces large so you can easily fish them out at the end)
Peel from 2 organes (keep the pieces large so you can easily fish them out at the end)
- Chop the walnuts finely
- Place everything in a container (if you use 2L of vodka you should have a 3L container) and cover tightly
- Leave for 8 weeks, shake every so often
And I am not yet sure what you do after 8 weeks, but I will be sure to update you when I learn (in 8 weeks time).