Nashi pears from the previous owners which then they were trimmed to 20. Years pass on, and our orchard is fruitful with any addition of other fruit trees growing and are grown on the side of the driveway. It's time to harvest, time to enjoy our labour. Definitely it's more work in the kitchen. I just hate to waste so much fruit while I can produce things out of them. Yet, how is often unanswered, until I browsed recipe books and old recipes files I've compiled from The Listener.
I've read this recipe on one of food colums Lois Daish ever written for The Listener, and then I decided to buy her book titled A Good Year, produced in 2005 later on. I was tempted to make those cheeses eversince, but I always had lack of time, due to having young babies and the trips we had had back to Indonesia.
Now, the time is right, and the orchard is plentiful of supplies. I definitely have tried both black plums and apple cider cheese. It took longer than I thought, but the joy stored in the future is worthwhile.
Our Damson and Black Dorris plums are very fruitful this year. Back in Spring, they produced a mass of blooms and then abundance of fruit in Summer. I picked around 2 kg of Damson and 1 kg of Black Dorris to make plum cheeses in different batches. Yes, I was busy in the kitchen for several days, but it was really fun.
To understand how to serve these cheeses, I have to agree with what Lois wrote:
“I do like the old English idea of pouring port over a whole damson cheese studded with freshly blanched almonds and serving it as an after-dinner sweetmeat. Another delightful combination is quince paste served with freshly cracked walnuts and squares of dark chocolate. Although fruit cheeses are often served along with dairy cheeses and crackers on a cheese board, the match has to be carefully considered. Plum cheese and brie go together well, as do quince paste and mature cheddar, and apple cheese with Italian parmesan, but some other combinations are cloying.” [A Good Year. p.49]
Lois used Sunrise apples to make her cheese, but we have fully grown apples (unfortunately, we didn't record its name at planting time) on our orchard. They have strong flavour, fragrant, and slightly tart. I picked around 1 kg firm fruits.
Apple Cider Cheese
The proportion of sugar to fruit pulp in fruit cheese recipes varies between half the weight of sugar to pulp, to equal weights. I usually use the smaller proportion of sugar, and have been satisfied with the results. [Lois Daish. A Good Year. NZ Listener. Random House New Zealand. 2005. p.50]
Source: Lois Daish Food Column: Sweet As. The Listener [February 22, 2003]; A Good Year [Lois Daish. NZ Listener. Random House New Zealand. 2005]
500g tart apples,
1 cup dry cider,
approximately 250g sugar
Wash the apples and roughly cut them up (all of them, including skins and seeds). Add in the cider and cloves. Bring to boil and simmer gently, until the fruit is tender, around 20 minutes. Push the soft pulp through a mouli or coarse sieve, and discard the skins, seeds, and cloves. Weigh it, then put it back into the pan and add in sugar. Bring to the boil and stir well during cooking, then simmer gently until the mixture is very thick and resembles very thick paste (believe me, I'm new to this kind of preserve stuffs, and time to cook this was really killing me as it was hot in my kitchen that afternoon low sun heated up through my naked window glasses! I had to grab a glass of chilled sparkling grape juice to freshen me up, so be ready with something chilled when you're working on it on a very hot day). If you draw a line on the base of the pan, it won't meet up again, then it's done. [Lois gives a guideline for cooking until this stage is 30 minutes, but for some reason, I had to cook it a lot longer than that]. Spoon the paste on to lightly oiled ramekins or any moulds you can think of, and leave to cool. Once they're cool, wrap them with plastic wrap and refrigerate, or unmould them and put them on the tray for drying out. [I put my cheeses in the oven overnight]. Once they're dry, wrap them in the greaseproof paper and store them in an airtight container in a cool place.
Damson or Black Plum Cheese
The recipe is the same as apple cider cheese, but you can substitute the cider with water. For dark plums, Lois suggests in her book to use red wine or cassis diluted with water, but I just used water.
Have a Plum Day!
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