Friday, August 14, 2009

Pâte de Fruit (Part Deux)

While I'm waiting for the Plum Pâte de Fruit (Pâte de Plum?) to cool, I figured that I might as well try making some with the left over blackberry slurry that's sitting in the fridge. It's certainly easier than making jam in this heat, and I'm not sure what else to do with it. I thought about blackberry syrup but the process is the same as for jam (too hot). Or I could make blackberry smoothies every day for three weeks. That would surely be too much of a good thing. One thing I know: I'm not going to waste it. I worked too hard for it! If it had been a nice cool foggy morning when we went a-pickin', I might feel differently. It wasn't. The sun was up early and by the time we got to the shrubs, it was already hot. We were sweaty, tired and stained purple by the time we were done, and my legs were sore for three days where I had leaned against the ladder for so long. Then there was the washing of the really ripe warm berries which was no small feat in itself. Have I mentioned how long it took to put all of it through the food mill? Crank, crank, crank, keep cranking, crank, crank, crank some more... (hint: it's not electric). No sir, I'm not wasting a drop of that blackberry juice.

Notes: The berries had gone through the food mill with the medium screen earlier this week, but there were still some seeds. Fine for jam but not for this. I cooked the slurry over low-ish heat for 10 minutes with the juice of half a lemon. Then it went through the food mill again, but this time with the fine mesh screen. I thought that I detected a few little seeds still, so I pushed it through a mesh sieve into a measuring cup. There was 2-1/2 cups of juice, so I cooked it over medium heat (#4) with 2-1/2 cups of sugar, stirring constantly. Dancing optional (stirring for that long can get boring). 24 minutes later, it looked done. Hopefully not too done (I had some really good tunes playing). Toward the end, the syrup smelled like it was starting to caramelize (just like in the source notes). Amazingly enough, I've smelled this before; in the bottom of a wine glass recently emptied of its contents. It had held a big beautiful juicy Zin, and after drinking it, I stuck my nose in the glass and inhaled this dark berry caramel-y rich scent. I wanted to spend the rest of my life breathing that air. Intoxicating in a whole different way. This morning as I began this adventure, Hubs said he didn't like jellied fruit candy. He needn't worry. He's not getting any.

Notes (8/18/09): And I was worried that I had over-cooked the candy. While significantly firmer than the plum version I made, it isn't as solid as I would like. Of course, I have no idea how it's actually supposed to be. Outside of a dab of quince paste that was part of a rather overpriced cheese plate we had at a restaurant two years ago, I haven't a clue. I'm pretty sure
however, that it's supposed to be more firm than this is. I went ahead and cut it and rolled it in sugar and packed it up. Who knows, maybe I'll serve it on a fancy cheese plate. Ironically, Hubs likes it and I don't. The flavor is incredible but the texture is like eating a big spoonful of jelly. I realize that might actually be appealing to some people. I prefer jelly on toast. Which is just what we did with it. Stuck a piece of it right in the middle of our toast. Hubs said it reminded him of the little individually wrapped butters that you get with rolls at restaurants. I decided I'll call them "jelly-pats" and make a billion dollars as their inventor. Or maybe not. Nevertheless, it's a long long way from jelly-pat to pâte de fruit.
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