Fragrant Butternut Pumpkin Soup

Fragrant Butternut Pumpkin Soup | Gather and GrazeOur youngest son went from eating all manner of pureed vegetables when he was an infant, to almost a complete aversion to them when he became a child. It’s only recently that we’re seeing a gradual shift in his mind state when it comes to the consumption of vegetables. There’s not quite a sense of joy just yet, as he takes a mouthful, but we’re getting there… it’s a start!

More and more, I’m finding that a little added spice makes eating veggies much more enticing for our boys. This pumpkin soup is no exception. It’s great for a simple Sunday dinner, served with a crusty loaf of bread… for dunking and then mopping up the bowl at the end.

Fragrant Butternut Pumpkin Soup | Gather and Graze

  • 500ml (2 Cups) Vegetable Stock (or Chicken Stock if you prefer)
  • 1 Thumb-size piece of Fresh Ginger (finely chopped)
  • 1 Clove of Garlic (crushed)
  • 1 Green Chilli (seeded and sliced)
  • 2 Kaffir Lime Leaves (torn) * See note below
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Coriander
  • 1kg Butternut Pumpkin/Squash (chopped into 3cm chunks)
  • 500-600ml (2 Cups+) Boiling Water
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 125ml (½ Cup) Coconut Cream
  • Fresh Coriander/Cilantro leaves (to garnish)

Place the stock, ginger, garlic, chilli, kaffir lime leaves, and spices into a large saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Add the chopped pumpkin and enough boiling water to ensure the pumpkin is covered in liquid. Season with salt and pepper and allow to simmer away until the pumpkin is tender. Remove the kaffir lime leaves before proceeding with the next step.

Pour the pumpkin and all the liquid into a blender and purée until you reach a smooth consistency. Tip the soup back into the cleaned saucepan over a gentle heat and add the coconut cream. Bring back up to a very gentle simmer, check for seasoning and then remove from the heat.

Serve straight away with some chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) sprinkled over the top and a loaf of crusty bread on the side.

Fragrant Butternut Pumpkin Soup | Gather and Graze

* A tip for getting the best flavour from the kaffir lime leaves is to carefully tear each leaf a few times from either side in towards the spine, allowing it to stay whole (for easy removal), but also allowing it to release it’s lovely fragrance throughout the soup. 

Afghan Biscuits/Cookies

Afghan Biscuits | Gather and Graze

The Afghan is an iconic and adored New Zealand biscuit, which in my opinion, ticks every single box of biscuit perfection. Not only do they look stunning, they have a taste and texture all of their own.  Usually I shy away from any recipe that utilises breakfast cereal, however in this particular case I feel strongly that the crumbled up cornflakes truly maketh the biscuit… and in no case should they be omitted. The texture really just wouldn’t be the same.

There are many similar recipes for Afghan Biscuits out there, but this particular one has always turned out so beautifully and has such a gloriously glossy icing to dollop on top! It comes from a cookbook (‘Ladies, a Plate’ by Alexa Johnston) which was given to me as a gift by a dear friend as we were leaving New Zealand to move back to Australia. This beautifully written book is packed full of kiwi classics, evoking fond and cherished memories of our time spent living in ‘The Land of the Long White Cloud’!

Afghan Biscuits/Cookies

  • Servings: Makes about 32 Smallish (but beautiful!) Biscuits
  • Print
For the Biscuits:

  • 170g (⅔ Cup) Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 100g (½ Firmly Packed Cup) Brown Sugar
  • 180g (1½ Cups) Plain Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons (Good Quality) Cocoa Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 60g (2 Cups) Cornflakes (broken up into smaller pieces using your hands)

For the Icing:

  • 3 Tablespoons Water
  • 45g (3 Tablespoons) Caster Sugar
  • 45g (3 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter
  • 190g (1½ Cups) Icing (Powdered) Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons (Good Quality) Cocoa Powder
  • 30 Walnut Halves

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line 2 baking trays with baking/parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. Sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder and stir to combine. Add the cornflakes, pressing them in to the mixture until well incorporated.

Place teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking trays (leaving a little space around each for spreading) and flatten each one slightly with a fork. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, then allow to cool completely, before topping with the icing and walnuts.

To make the icing… sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a mixing bowl, then set aside for the moment. Combine the water, sugar and butter in a small saucepan. Heat gently, until the butter melts, then allow to simmer for 1 minute to form a syrup. Pour about ¾ of the syrup over the sifted icing sugar and cocoa, beating well to form a glossy, smooth, fudge-like icing. Add more of the syrup if the mixture is too thick.

Scoop a teaspoonful of the warm icing onto each biscuit and press a walnut half on top. Please note that you may also need to stir in a small amount of hot water to the icing (as you’re topping the biscuits) if you feel that it’s setting too quickly.

Leave the biscuits on a rack to set, before serving as an afternoon tea treat.

Store any leftover biscuits in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Afghan Biscuits/Cookies | Gather and Graze

For my children who aren’t overly fond of walnuts, I’ve topped half with coloured sprinkles instead… though they’re infinitely better with the walnuts!

Afghan Biscuits | Gather and Graze * Recipe from the New Zealand cookbook ‘Ladies, a Plate’ by Alexa Johnston

Leek & Fresh Herb Tart

Leek & Fresh Herb Tart | Gather and Graze

Ideally you shouldn’t be reading this post for yet another month. You see… my excessively organised mind had quite liked the idea of my 100th Post (yes, that’s THIS one! :) ) being posted on Gather and Graze’s 2nd Blogiversary (the 12th April). But here we are… well ahead of schedule… so I guess we’ll just have to celebrate twice!

In my opinion, leeks hold such a beautiful flavour. They lift many a dish and provide complexity that can’t always be found by using onions or garlic (other members of the Allium family). Unfortunately though, it’s not often that you find leeks as the hero of the dish, so here I’m hoping to remedy this! This tart is a particular favourite of mine and also of my eldest son… I was surprised to find that I hadn’t posted this recipe already, as it’s a dish that we’ve been enjoying for much longer than these past 2 years of blogging. I hope very much that  you’ll enjoy it too.

Leek & Fresh Herb Tart | Gather and Graze

For the Shortcrust Pastry

  • 170g (1⅛ Cup) Plain Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 100g (⅓ Cup + 1 Tablespoon) Chilled Unsalted Butter (cut into small dice)
  • 1 Free-Range Egg Yolk
  • 2 Tablespoon Ice-Cold Water

For the Filling

  • 30g (2 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Medium Leeks (cleaned, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly – white and pale green only)
  • 1 Large Free-Range Egg
  • 1 Large Free-Range Egg Yolk
  • 125ml (½ Cup) Cream
  • 60ml (¼ Cup) Crème Fraiche
  • 4 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Herbs (I used both Chives and Flat-Leaf Parsley)
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons Parmesan or Gruyere Cheese (finely grated)

To make the pastry… place the flour and salt into a food processor and a pulse a couple of times to make sure there are no lumps. Add the chilled butter and continue pulsing until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Mix together the egg yolk and water, then add it to the food processor. Blend just until the mixture comes together into a ball. Remove the pastry from the machine, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before using.

Roll the pastry out and press it into an 18cm (loose-bottomed) Deep Flan Tin. Prick the base all over with a fork and place the tin back into the fridge for about 45 minutes to rest.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and blind bake the tart shell. I baked mine for 15 minutes, lined and topped with pastry weights and then for a further 5 minutes without. As soon as the tart shell has cooked and you’ve removed it from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 170°C.

While the tart shell is in the oven, begin making the filling…

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the sliced leeks, along with a good pinch of salt. Stir to coat with the butter, then place a lid on top and allow to sweat and soften for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the leeks don’t brown or catch on the base. Remove from the heat when softened and set aside for the moment.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk, then continue whisking as you add in the cream and creme fraiche. Season well with salt and black pepper.

Scoop the leeks into the tart shell and scatter evenly with the chopped herbs. Gently pour the cream mixture over the top, being careful not to over-fill… leave a gap of about 2cm. Sprinkle the top with finely grated cheese.

Place into the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes until golden on top. If you prefer the pastry to be extra crispy, remove the outer edge of the flan tin and return the tart (still on the base) back to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool a little before manoeuvring onto a serving plate.

Leek & Fresh Herb Tart | Gather and Graze

Serve warm with a fresh green salad and a crisp glass of white wine.

Leek & Fresh Herb Tart | Gather and Graze

Canberra Enlighten… and a lot of hot air!

Canberra really shines in late February/early March with two truly beautiful festivals. They each run for a week, bookended by a weekend at either side. Enlighten comes first, with many iconic buildings of the Nation’s Capital lit up in a celebration of both light and colour, through projected images.

National Gallery of Australia, Enlighten 2015 | Gather and Graze

National Gallery of Australia

National Portrait Gallery, Canberra | Gather and Graze

National Portrait Gallery

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Night Noodle Markets, Enlighten 2015 | Gather and Graze

Night Noodle Markets

Night Noodle Markets, Enlighten 2015 | Gather and Graze

Night Noodle Markets

Lake Burley Griffin, Enlighten 2015 | Gather and Graze

Lake Burley Griffin

National Library of Australia, Canberra | Gather and Graze

National Library of Australia

Old Parliament House, Canberra | Gather and Graze

Old Parliament House

On the same weekend that Enlighten finishes up, the Canberra Balloon Spectacular (hmm, surely we could come up with a better name than that!?) begins. Certain members of our family rather relish their leisurely weekend sleep-ins, so I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that this festival is (and has been!) on occasions, quite a challenge. However this year we ALL managed to haul our weary bodies out of bed by 6.30am, to make our way down to the lawns of Old Parliament House to enjoy the many splendid hot air balloons taking flight.

Canberra Balloon Spectacular 2015 | Gather and Graze Canberra Balloon Spectacular 2015 | Gather and Graze Canberra Balloon Spectacular 2015 | Gather and Graze Canberra Balloon Spectacular 2015 | Gather and Graze Yoda | Canberra Balloon Specatacular 2015 | Gather and Graze Canberra Balloon Spectacular 2015 | Gather and Graze

Spiced Pickled Pears

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

‘Tis a fortunate thing to have friends with fruit trees… even more so when they quite generously wish to share them with you. Following on from my earlier post on Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake, John has continued to bring along bags of pears each and every week for all who have met up for coffee on Wednesdays. They are sadly reaching the end of their season now, so this may well be the last of the home-grown pears… until next year.

I’ve not been the only one to create delicious treats in the kitchen using these gifted pears. Two of the other Mums, who we meet up with, brought along ‘Pear & Blueberry Butter’ (which we slathered on home-made scones in situ and then graciously each took home a little jar for later) as well as a wonderfully moist Pear Cake. All in all, a fabulous celebration of the Pears of 2015!

Since the cake I made a few weeks ago was so very quickly devoured by my family, I wanted to make a little something to share with my coffee friends. Here’s hoping they’ll enjoy these little jars of Spiced Pickled Pears, that I’ll pass on to them next week.

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: Made 8 x 120ml (4oz) Jars
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  • 500ml (2 Cups) Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 500g (2¼ Cups) Raw Caster Sugar
  • 8 Strips of Fresh Lemon Peel (pared carefully from the lemon with no pith)
  • 60ml (¼ Cup) Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 Star Anise (broken into pieces)
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick (broken into chunks)
  • 8 Whole Cloves
  • 1 Teaspoon Whole Peppercorns (lightly crushed using a mortar and pestle)
  • 1 Small Red Chilli (seeded and thinly sliced)
  • 1kg Pears (cored and sliced, I prefer to leave the skin on)

Be sure to sterilise your jars while the pears are poaching, so that they are ready to go when required.

Place all ingredients except for the pears into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring now and then to ensure that the sugar has dissolved. Add the pears and allow to simmer gently for about 15 minutes, until the pears are lovely and tender. Remove the pears, using a slotted spoon to a colander sitting over a bowl. Bring the remaining liquid in the saucepan back up to the boil and allow to bubble away for about a further 15 minutes, until slightly syrupy.

Divide the pear slices equally into your jars, being sure to get a little of the lemon peel, spices and chilli into each jar as well. Using a ladle, top up each jar with the spiced vinegar liquid. Seal with lids.

At this point, I placed my filled jars into a hot water bath (a stockpot of boiling water) for about 15 minutes, before removing to the kitchen bench to sit until they reached room temperature.

Label the jars and then store them somewhere nice and cool (preferably for about a month) before opening.

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

Spiced Pickled Pears are lovely served with a cheese platter or alongside cold cuts of meat or better still… warmed slightly to accompany a delicious roast dinner.

Spiced Pickled Pears | Gather and Graze

Recipe adapted from one found on the BBC Good Food website.

Fad Diets – lifestyle choice or money spinner?

Fad Diets | Gather and Graze

There are a plethora of diet options out there when you start to look. Paleo, Macrobiotic, Zone and Raw… are just a handful of the current, trending diets that people seem to be signing up for these days.

They dictate what you can and can’t eat… depending on the whim of the mastermind behind the particular diet. It might be cutting out broad food groups like dairy and grains… or counting calories or grams… or perhaps even stipulating the percentages of carbs, protein and fat… or hey, why not refuse to cook above a certain temperature. Always something a little different to stand out from the rest.

Quite cleverly, they create a sense of belonging for their followers… with an ideology of sorts. To be purchased are books, DVD’s, seminars, subscriptions to multi-week/month plans, food delivered direct to your door…  not to mention the full-suite of social media avenues to follow them by. Of course there’s strength in numbers when a community has been formed. If lucky enough to have high-profile celebrity adherents, this will always add to the seduction and provide the public with confidence that this MUST be good for you.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that they’re ALL bad. In fact the saving grace for many of these fad diets is that a number of people are finally relinquishing much of the high-processed food on the supermarket shelves and buying fresh fruit, vegetables and quality meat. I’m sure many have lost weight in doing so and are feeling good about the way they feel and look. This is wonderful, but for the fact that they’re either shelving a number of food groups that provide nutrition in ways that other food groups can’t or that hey’ve turned the privilege and joy of eating into a numbers game, of rules and restrictions, that drains the very heart and soul out of what should be a delight for all five of our senses.

I recommend that you give thought to the long-term effects of what your body is being denied. There are potential repercussions from not getting enough of the right nutrients required for both immediate and long-term health. You may well be feeling energised and great right now, but how will your body be in your 50’s, 60’s and beyond? For example, for those who’ve totally removed dairy from their diets, are you getting enough calcium from other sources to give your bones and teeth the strength they’ll need later in life? Leafy greens contain calcium too, but be aware that the body doesn’t take up those nutrients as readily as it does from the likes of yoghurt or cheese.* Find here a list showing the Calcium Content of Foods to know whether you’re getting enough for your age group.

My concern with Fad Diets also extends to any children out there whose parents are subjecting them to these diets. They are being drawn into this due to YOUR choice, not their own.I really do hope that you’ve sat down and worked out what their bodies need, for the age that they’re at, as far as nutrition goes. I know it could be worse, you could be feeding them Fast Food and soft drink on a daily basis, but even so… this is someone else’s life that your impacting on… make sure that you know what you’re doing and that there won’t be repercussions for them later in life!

Everyone needs to make their own informed decisions, I just hope that you’re not being sucked in to the fad of the day! Your long-term health (and bank account) may ultimately pay for it.

Please note… I realise that this is a topic that some people will have strong opposing views on. Please respect my right to hold an opinion on this and I will respect yours. All I’m really asking is that people think long and hard before adapting and restricting their (and their children’s) diets in any significant way.

* Regarding Dairy… I certainly don’t believe that all dairy out there is healthy for you. Much of what we find on our supermarket shelves should be forcibly removed, due to the dubious nature of how it has been produced/processed and because of the high levels of sugar added.

Hungry for… Honey Cake

Honey Cake | Gather and Graze

It is doubtful that you’ll come across another cake that is quite so easy to make, yet rewards with such beautiful taste and moist crumb. Honey is the obvious star, bringing a touch of sunshine and happiness… subtle and well-balanced… demanding only a cup of tea as the perfect partner.

This flavourful cake has been making a regular appearance on our table for the past few months now. Spotted first on The Hungry Mum‘s fabulous blog, who in turn had spotted it in a Donna Hay cookbook or website. The Hungry Mum made only one small change to the recipe, using yoghurt instead of sour cream… something I’m more than happy to adhere to, as Greek yoghurt can always be found in our fridge.

I must say that I hesitated in re-posting this recipe, which has already been covered so well by a fellow blogger (please do go and visit The Hungry Mum, to view this fabulous recipe and many more, through here or by using the link above); but as this is a cake that both myself and my children adore, I hope she won’t mind me promoting it here on Gather and Graze as well. My boys will then have no trouble finding it later in life, when they are searching for the perfect cakes to bake for their own families or friends. To the recipe below, I’ve also added weights for most of the ingredients (being my preferred way of measuring for baking)… and a pinch of salt, as is also my preference with baked treats.

Honey Cake | Gather and Graze

Honey Cake

  • Servings: 12 Slices
  • Difficulty: Easier than Easy
  • Print

  • 260g (1¾ Cups) Self-Raising Flour (Sifted)
  • 170g (¾ cup) Raw Caster Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 155g (2/3 Cup) Unsalted Butter (Melted)
  • 170g (½ Cup) Honey
  • 200g (¾ Cup) Greek Yoghurt (or Sour Cream)
  • 3 Free-Range Eggs (Lightly Beaten)
  • 1 Tablespoon Icing (Powdered) Sugar (for dusting the top)

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base of a 24cm round cake tin (or 25cm fluted cake tin if you have one).

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.

Place all other ingredients in a separate mixing bowl. Stir well, until combined and light in texture.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold gently until combined. Pour into the cake tin and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 35-40 minutes (or until a cake tester comes out clean). If you find that the cake is browning too quickly during the final 10 minutes of cooking, cover lightly with a sheet of foil.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before removing to a cooling rack. When completely cool, dust the top with icing sugar.

Serve as is, or with a drizzle of honey and dollop of Greek Yoghurt on the side.

Honey Cake | Gather and Graze

* A Donna Hay recipe

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and Graze

Many moons ago, I think I mentioned that most Wednesdays I meet up for a coffee with a number of other parents from my children’s school. Yesterday was no different (though it was the first of the new school year)… hot coffees and teas sipped and relished, conversations criss-crossing the table, laughter permeating the air. Then, a wonderful surprise when John (one of the Dads) pulled from his bag a number of packages holding beautiful little pears, plucked from his tree at home to share with us all. The gift of produce or food is always something that excites me and that I’m truly grateful for. A couple of these sweet, ripe pears were munched as nature intended, but the rest were set aside in anticipation of making something extra delicious this morning.

There are days when I’m happy to just follow along with a recipe… it will usually be one that appears perfect as it is, requiring no tweaking whatsoever.  Then there are days like today, when I’m open to a little experimentation, to see what may come… you just never know when you might hit on a winner. The flavour combination of pear, almond and olive oil to be transformed into a cake was floating around my head… and so this is what finally came to be.

A Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake that is beautifully moist and flavourful. The slivered almonds give the topping such a great texture, that match so well with the fruitiness of the pears. It doesn’t sit very tall…  a little more like a Tarte Tatin… but presents wonderfully on the plate all the same.

My very sincere thanks to John for his delightful gift!

Pears | Gather and Graze

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 8-10 Slices
  • Print
For the caramel:

  • 60g (¼ Cup) Unsalted Butter
  • 115g (½ Cup) Raw Caster Sugar
  • 3 Small Ripe Pears (Peeled, Cored and Quartered)
  • 2 Tablespoons Slivered Almonds

For the cake batter:

  • 125g (½ Cup) Unsalted Butter (Softened)
  • 115g (½ Cup) Raw Caster Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Free-Range Egg
  • 100g (⅔ Cup) Plain Flour (Sifted)
  • 40g (⅓ Cup) Ground Almonds
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 60ml/¼ Cup Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

I used a (23cm) Le Creuset cast iron braising dish to bake this cake in, though a similar sized (greased and lined) cake tin would work just as well. 

To make the caramel:

In the cast iron dish (or a small saucepan, if you’ll be using a cake tin to bake in) melt the butter and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for a minute or two. Remove from the heat, arrange the pear quarters in a pattern over the top and scatter, between the gaps, with the slivered almonds. Set aside for the moment.

If using a cake tin, pour the caramel evenly over the base of your greased and lined cake tin and arrange the pears and almonds on top, as suggested above. Set aside for the moment.

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and Graze Now for the cake batter:

Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg. Combine the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt in a bowl, then fold it in to butter/egg mixture in two lots, alternating with the milk and olive oil.

Spoon the cake batter over the top of the pears and using the back of a spoon or a knife, spread it over evenly to cover. Bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes until golden on top and cooked through. A good sign is when it’s just starting to pull away from the sides of the baking dish (or cake tin).

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and GrazeAllow to cool for 5-10 minutes before carefully turning out onto a cake plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with some double cream on the side.

Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake | Gather and Graze

A Fading Summer

Dusky Pink Rose | Gather and Graze

The Canberra children returned to school today and it feels already as though summer is shutting up shop. The past week has been riddled with selfish thoughts of ‘thank goodness they’re back at school soon and I’ll be able to find a moment of calm’, but it’s morning tea time… and I miss them already.

Apricot and Lavender Jam

Apricot and Lavender Jam | Gather and Graze

The stone fruit has been spectacular this summer… the nectarines, the peaches, the plums! Mostly purchased from the farmer’s market, but even our new little peach tree managed to produce a small crop, to give us a taste of what’s to come – such a sweet little tree that he is! Somehow though the apricots never managed to make it into my basket. Something just wasn’t quite right with them… they never looked like they held any flavour. So as you’d expect I passed them by… that is, until today. When I saw these little blushed beauties, I knew exactly what I wanted to make – jam!

Last year I made my first ever batch of Apricot and Lavender Jam and when I initially tasted it, I thought I’d completely ruined it with the addition of the lavender (perhaps one sprig too many?) but with time to sit… and infuse… and mellow… it actually became my favourite jam of the year. So… desperate to make this again before the apricots disappeared completely for the summer, my afternoon was very pleasantly spent in the kitchen stirring and breathing in the aromas of this delightful jam.

One interesting change to note… last year I used about 400g of sugar (50% sugar to the amount of fruit) to make the same size batch of jam, however this year I’ve enthusiastically adopted the idea of a ‘Low Sugar Jam’ from my friend Johnny, at Kitsch n flavours, who is working towards creating a fabulous line of Jams and Chutneys to sell in the UK (and hopefully beyond)! He makes jams with only 20% or 30% added sugar, which is a far cry from many other recipes that combine equal quantities of fruit and sugar! Mostly for the purposes of keeping the ingredient quantities tidy, I went for 25% sugar in this particularly recipe. The apricots are sweet enough and this allows their natural flavour to shine through. Plus, a little sugar helps to preserve the jam, so that it doesn’t all need to be consumed in the coming week… You’ll also see that I like to use lemon juice in my jams, which seems to substitute quite well for pectin. Apart from that, just be sure to protect your hands and arms when the jam is bubbling away, to protect from burns… the oven gloves came in handy today!

Apricot and Lavender Jam | Gather and Graze Apricot and Lavender Jam | Gather and Graze

Apricot and Lavender Jam | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: Produced 3 smallish jars of jam
  • Print

  • 800g (Approx. 14) Fresh Ripe Apricots (stones removed and chopped into chunks)
  • 3-4 Sprigs of Lavender (flowers removed from the stems)
  • 60ml/¼ Cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 125ml/½ Cup Water
  • 200g/¾ Cup + 1 Tablespoon Raw Caster Sugar

Apricot and Lavender Jam | Gather and Graze Apricot and Lavender Jam | Gather and Graze

Place the apricots, lavender flowers, lemon juice and water into a medium sized saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the fruit has softened nicely.

Add the sugar and stir to combine as you bring the fruit back up to the boil. Allow to boil for about another 10-15 minutes (stirring often to ensure the mixture doesn’t catch and burn on the base). When the jam has thickened (and ideally reached 105°C on a jam thermometer) remove from the heat.

Apricot and Lavender Jam | Gather and Graze Allow to cool for a few minutes, before scooping into hot sterilised jars. Tighten the lids immediately and allow the jars to sit until they come to room temperature.

Sandra from Please Pass the Recipe has very wisely recommended that jams with less than 40-50% sugar should be stored in the refrigerator, as the lower sugar content may not be sufficient enough to act as a preservative if you intend to stack them in the pantry cupboard. So it’s off to the fridge they go!

Apricot and Lavender Jam | Gather and Graze