This month's Forging Fromage challenge isn't forging a fromage at all. As part of the wider brief of exploring preserving, this month there are a couple of conserves to try.
Apparently a conserve is a jam that involves both fresh and dried fruit. And sometimes booze and spice. You learn something new every day.
I thought prune and cardamom conserve sounded good, but as fresh, beautiful English cherries had just hit the stores, I had to give the Brandied Red Cherry Conserve a try.
I made a half quantity (because those beautiful English cherries are bloody expensive, and we just don't eat that much jam), and I omitted the currants. I wanted to be able to taste the cherries, which I thought was already at risk with 1/4lb chopped candied peel involved, and I didn't want to buy a package of currants for just 1oz of them. And I used kirch instead of slivovitz because that's what we keep on hand.
I really liked the technique of making a puree of half of the fruit, and then adding the rest in.
Because I was making a smaller quantity, it didn't take anything like 20 minutes of cooking before it reached set point, but I was expecting that so it didn't candy or burn.
My final variation to the written recipe was not to bother canning/heat processing it any further after I bottled it. American recipe writers to seem to be very paranoid about jam. I poured the hot jam into a hot, sterilised glass jar, topped it with a drop more of the kirsch and put on the lid. As it cooled the "pop up" button bit depressed, as a vacuum was formed, so I feel pretty OK about eating it.
To sample the conserve, I made Heather's Dutch Baby. Which is basically a Yorkshire pudding.
The Dutch Baby itself was delicious - light, puffy and eggy. The conserve... was a disappointment. Tooth-achingly sweet, no discernible clove flavour, little discernible cherry flavour.
I think it will be nice served with sharp cheese, or in a sauce for duck or game, but as a jam it really isn't to my taste at all. I am very glad I only made half the quantity!