09 January 2009

Sensational Preserves

I don’t care if you ever make single recipe in this book, the pictures alone make Sensational Preserves by Hilaire Walden worth owning. Sensational is a good word to describe the photography in this book, which has over 125 photos. The preserves look like they were created in a home kitchen. Ok, a home kitchen with a talented cook – with copious time on her hands, but still…

A fundamental difference exists between preserving in Europe and in the U.S. Americans process preserves in a water bath. Europeans add hot preserves to hot jars, invert the jars, then right them after a few minutes. For all of you who dutifully read their 4-H canning instructions, this inversion method is unacceptable. While Walden is British, in this book, she advocates a water bath process with most recipes. The copy I own is the American version and it would be interested to see if the original British version uses the water bath or if that method was added to the American version.

This kumquat recipe is one of the few that requires no processing.

Kumquats in Vodka and Cointreau

3/4 plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 pounds kumquats
1 1/4 cups vodka
2/3 cup Cointreau

Mix the sugar and 2 1/2 cups of water in a large pan and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Meanwhile, prick the kumquats all over with a large embroidery needle. Add them to the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the skin feels soft; pierce with a fine skewer to test.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the kumquats from the syrup and pack into warm, clean, dry jars. Pour the vodka and Cointreau over the kumquats, then fill to the top with the reserved syrup.

Cover and seal the jars. Invert them gently to mix the liquids. Store in a cool, dark, dry place for a least one month before eating.

These kumquats are lovely simply served over ice cream. I also like to open a jar and scatter them around a roasting chicken during the last half hour of cooking.

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