Unlike many folks, Robb and I made no plans for New Year's Eve. Large crowded spaces just aren't good for him, and neither is staying up late. We had a lovely night at home. Robb cooked a delicious dinner, and then we both baked this incredible sourdough bittersweet chocolate cake. Clare over at Curbstone Valley Farm mentioned that she had been experimenting with this recipe, and her online friends sat drooling until she posted instructions.
Back before Xmas, I was given some 80-year-old sourdough starter. Amazing stuff, that. To think that families have been continuously cooking with this living bacterial culture is kind of thrilling, if you're a big old dork like me. Robb has been making beautiful breads and pancakes with this stuff. All these things are delightful uses for sourdough.
But cake? Sourdough cake? Pure genius!
Today, after we got home from our Chicken Tourism, I decided to make a batch of persimmon-ginger preserves. Our persimmons are starting to get soft, which means they need to be used up. This jam actually calls for persimmon pulp, the mooshy flesh of an exceptionally ripe fruit. And we're starting to have a lot of that.
This jam was so delicious, that I immediately made a second batch.
The time has come for me to admit that while I understand how to make jams that taste great (at (least to me) and I feel confident in the kitchen safety and hygiene aspects of jam-making, I really don't have a clue about how to work with pectin.
Sometimes my jams gel beautifully, and sometimes they're extremely runny. I'm baffled by my rate of failure. I had thought that I was over-cooking (and thus killing) my pectin, but this batch had pectin added at the very end. Who know? Maybe I under-cooked this pectin. Oh well, this jam is so delicious, I don't care of it runs off of my toast. I'll happily lick it off of my jam-sticky knuckles.
I think I'm going to sign up for a class on jam making, if I can find such a thing. Does anyone have any suggestions, either about where to find a class (I'm thinking about the Institute of Urban Homesteading), or about why I suck at getting a decent texture to my jam?
update: The jam is gelling nicely, after all, although I really can't take any credit for understanding why it is working.