With the weather being so warm this year, many summer crops have lingered on into October. Early in the month we had tomatoes galore and tender young courgettes with their lovely yellow flowers, peppers and aubergines. As a consequence, we had a lot of tomato salads and tomato based dishes (in addition to the standby ragù for pasta). One dish I tried was tomato and basil risotto that even the not-to-be-named risotto-ambivalent member of the family enjoyed. It still amazes me that anyone could be opposed to risotto – except, possibly if one is badly made.
After reading an excellent blog article by Erica of Sapori e Saperi on making homemade tomato passata, I bought a Passatutto, a marvellous machine designed to produce skinless/seedless passata by separating the skins and seeds in the grinding process and spitting them out the side in a separate chute. Making passata is a great way to preserve the taste of summer tomatoes.
Have a look at Erica’s post as it gives detailed instructions on making and bottling/canning passata from your tomato harvest. Or, you can buy good quality tomatoes from your farmer’s market – or open air market like I have here in Athens. The tomatoes I buy come from the town of Timbaki in south central Crete.
One of my own harvests this year has been limes. This is the first time since I planted the tree three years ago that I got more than 6 limes at one time. By the time I got around to taking this picture, we had already used a few. It is still a young tree, so I hope the harvests will keep multiplying!
When we were graduate students, Lemon-Lime marmalade seemed the height of luxury. After a lot of chopping and bottling, it still tastes luxurious – sunshine on toast. Getting in practice for the orange marmalade season in a few months.
Apples and pears are abundant in the liaki (open air market) at the moment. So, it means it is time to make my annual batch of apple butter – my grandmother’s recipe that was one of my first posts on this blog.
Meanwhile, we are enjoying seasonal pear cardamon cake although some of the pears are being poached in wine. They can either be bottled or frozen for preserving and are beautiful dessert offerings for the holidays. Also in my kitchen this past month is The Africa Cookbook by Jessica B. Harris, one of the James Beard award winners this year. There is an intriguing Tunisian pickled (sweet and sour) pear recipe in it which I might try.
Another fruit I preserve annually is quince. The quinces are peeled, cored and quartered then poach it in a light sugar syrup in the oven on a low heat for a long time until the fruit turns ruby red. The quince is put into packets and frozen with a little of its syrup for future use.
Some of the poached quince I purée, add a bit of the cooking syrup and sugar (about half the weight of the purée) to a pan on the stove to make membrillo or ‘quince cheese’. At a lowish heat, being careful to stir frequently, the purée is transformed into a thick, deep purplish, slightly translucent pulp. Then it is time to pot up, cool and refrigerate. Slices of this membrillo are perfect with sharp cheeses. I particularly like it with a good Stilton or Gorgonzola.
Autumnal veggies are now making an appearance. We are very seasonal here in Greece. Beetroot and their lovely greens, cabbage, broccoli and celeriac. For me, this signals time for soup. When making soup, I usually double the recipe and freeze the other half so we always have a supply on hand. Easy to do, cheaper and tastier than canned soups.
Last, but not least, pumpkins have been roasted and the pulp scooped out and frozen in packets for future cakes and pies. Greek pumpkins are squat or round, have deep orange, less watery flesh, and taste more like a winter squash although they still have the recognisable pumpkin flavour. I am thinking I may even try to create a pumpkin version of Greek bougatsa (a sweet creamy custard wrapped in layers of phyllo and dusted with powered sugar and cinnamon).
On the preserving front, I am dreaming of a good quality dehydrator to make my own dried goodies. But, after the Passatutto purchase, I might wait a while for the next kitchen gadget investment. Good to be sharing happenings in my kitchen with other IMK bloggers who connect at Sherry’s Pickings. Wherever you are in the world, stay safe.