Old-Fashioned Cooking – Carrot Jam

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Winter goodies for toast, sauces and jam cake!

Winter goodies for toast, sauces and jam cake!

In this modern-day-take-it-out-of-the-freezer-and shove-it-in-the-microwave world, we often lose sight of what real food tastes like. Not too surprising, when you look at the ingredient lists on most prepared foods. Many so-called foods have more chemicals than food ingredients. I figure if you can’t even pronounce half the ingredients, you shouldn’t rely on it as a major food source. On the other hand, just think about beef stew or chili simmering slowly through the day, ready to warm the cockles of your heart – not to mention your cold hands – come dinner time. Or home-made breakfast burritos or Cornish pasties, stored in the freezer for those mornings when you can barely find the kitchen, let alone think up a menu.
Isabella Beeton was an English author who wrote one of the most famous of all English cookbooks. Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, published in 1861, is full of information for cooks, housekeepers, kitchen-maids, coachmen, valets and nurse-maids. Beeton covers food and health in great detail. She touches on “birds,” “quadrupeds,” gastronomic history and sundry other subjects. While some of her recipes are the sort of thing suitable for the days when a family ate several dozen eggs for breakfast, a few still work just fine for today’s menus. Make a batch of Mrs. Beeton’s Carrot Jam
and send up a thank you to her young spirit; Isabella died from childbed fever a week after the birth of her fourth child, at the tender age of 28. I’ve included the original recipe for historical accuracy, but you should follow the second recipe to be sure it will be safe to eat.
Mrs. Beeton’s Carrot Jam
Delicious on hot toast or crumpets. Makes about three 450g jars.
1kg carrots, peeled and grated
Finely grated rind and strained juice of 2 lemons
Finely grated rind and strained juice of 1 orange
900g granulated sugar
2-3 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves
1 tsp grated nutmeg
Put the carrots, juices, zest and sugar into a preserving pan, and stir. Tie the cinnamon and cloves into a small circle of muslin, tie with kitchen string and place in the middle of the carrots. Leave overnight to macerate. Pour over about 900ml water, add the nutmeg, warm and stir until any sugar crystals have dissolved. Bring to the boil. Boil until it reaches its setting point, about 30-40 minutes; test to see if it’s ready using a chilled saucer (see above). Carefully fish out the spice bag. Cool for 10 minutes, then pour into warm, sterilized jars and cover with lids or waxed paper discs and cellophane covers while still hot. Store in a cool, dry place and use within one year.
Carrot Jam (Modern version) Makes about 1 ½ pints
About 2 pounds of carrots, peeled and grated (if you raised them yourself, you can scrub thoroughly with cold water and skip the peeling step)
Finely grated rind and strained juice of 2 lemons
Finely grated rind and strained juice of 1 orange
3 ¾ cups granulated sugar
2-3 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves
1 tsp grated nutmeg
Put the carrots, juices, zest and sugar into a large glass, enamelware or stainless steel bowl and stir. Tie the cinnamon and cloves into a small circle of muslin, tie with kitchen string and place in the middle of the carrots. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave overnight to macerate. The next morning, put the mixture in a large stockpot or kettle. Add about 3 ¾ cups water, add the nutmeg, warm over medium heat and stir until any sugar crystals have dissolved. Bring to the boil. Boil until it reaches its setting point, about 30-40 minutes (stir periodically to prevent sticking and keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn). Test to see if it’s ready: drop a teaspoon onto a chilled saucer — if it mounds, it’s done. Carefully fish out the spice bag. Pour or ladle into hot, sterilized jars. Fill to within ¼ inch of rim. Cap immediately with hot sterilized lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Unlike many fruits for which I do not use a boiling water bath, carrots are a low acid vegetable. It’s safer to process them. Or, you can skip that step and store in the fridge for about three months.

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