Friday, September 27, 2013

Damson cheese

Today I made a fruit cheese for the first time.
A fruit cheese is a highly concentrated fruit puree - so much concentrated that it becomes rubbery and can be cut with a knife ... well, a bit like cheese.
Less concentrated it remains spreadable and is called a fruit butter.

I used 700g of damsons from the allotment and followed a recipe from The Preserving Book by Lynda Brown - a much used book in our house.

I put the fruit in a preserving pan and added 200 ml water (300 ml per kilo of fruit), then brought it to the boil and simmered until it was a thick syrupy pulp (approx 30-40 mins). I used the wooden spoon to break up the flesh and release the stones.

Then I sieved the pulp through a fine sieve and added 500 g of sugar per pint/600 ml of puree. (I came away with 300 ml of puree).

Then I returned the puree with the sugar and a small knob of butter to the pan and simmered it very gently until it was reduced to a glossy black-purple paste that 'plopped' and left a trail on the saucepan floor when the spoon was drawn across it. This took about 45 minutes. Constant attention and stirring was required!
Then I spooned the cheese into lightly oiled ramekins (it filled three) and left to cool.

After it had cooled it was quite easy to turn out with a knife. Wrapped into waxed paper it should be kept for 6 - 8 weeks in a cool dark room to let it 'ripen'. And - assuming it doesn't get eaten sooner - it should keep for up to two years!
It can be used sliced with cold meats or cheeses or simply as a fruity treat.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Peace between neighbours,
Peace between kindred,
Peace between lovers,
In the love of the King of life.

Peace between person and person,
Peace between husband and wife,
Peace between woman and children,
The peace of Christ above all peace.

(Carmina Gadelica)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

7th September - Day of Prayer and Fasting for Syria and the Middle East

Whilst the G20 has gone round and round in circles, debating whether or not opt for military intervention in Syria, millions of displaced/refugee Syrians are beginning to lack food and supplies.

In the meantime Pope Francis has called on not just the Catholic world, but on all people, for a day of prayer and fasting for Syria and the Middle East on Saturday 7th September 2013 (that's TODAY!).
Wouldn't it be great if the whole world dedicated the day to prayer (if appropriate) and fasting ... and donated the money saved by eating nothing/less to the people of Syria?

Let each decide what praying and fasting means for them and how they will go about it - and let the Syrian people benefit from it.

“This coming Saturday we will live together a special day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world. But also for the peace in our hearts, because peace begins in our hearts. I renew the invitation to the whole Church to live this day intensely, and even now I express gratitude to the other Christian brothers and sisters, to the brothers and sisters of other religions and to the men and women of good will who desire to join in this initiative, in places and ways of their own.” 

Please keep Syria in your heart today!