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.

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