If you love a good cheese platter…then don’t stop reading!
For Christmas last year I decided to make some pear and apple paste or fruit cheese. Along the same lines as quince paste, you know, the stuff you serve with a nice strong cheddar or blue cheese? At the time, I didn’t think it was such a great success but still gave it to my nearest and dearest. Little did I know, it would turn out to be such a hit. But more of that later…now on to the making.
I was lucky enough to be given a bag full of homegrown apples from my friends tree. She even picked them and delivered them to my door. Thanks Mrs B. She said they were not great eating apples but were fantastic cooking apples. I thought about making my own apple pies or maybe some apple sauce but then I remembered that how great the paste was.
Here’s what you need:
- 1kg cooking apples (granny smith or the generous friend kind)
- 1kg firm pears (the green ones not the brown ones)
- 1kg caster sugar
- 500g water
- 1 clove
- preserving wax (sold in preserving or home-brew stores)
- small serving pots
You will need to peel, chop and core the apples and the pears. I did this by hand the first time but it took forever. This time, another good friend of mine lent me her little apple peeler thing and it worked an absolute treat!
Put the chopped apples and pears into a big pot with the water. Simmer away for about 12-15 mins. Once softened, removed the clove and push through a sieve or blitz in the food processor to get a fine consistency. Measure out the fruit. The recipe says use 750g sugar to 1kg fruit. But I say do it to your taste buds. The first time I used 1kg sugar and yeah, it was sweet but tasted great with strong cheese. This time I forgot to weigh my fruit so guessed and put 750g sugar in.
Return to the heat and bring to the boil and then simmer for 50 mins or until fruit thickens and becomes glossy. Now be careful at this stage because it gets really thick and looks like a volcano erupting. I think its best if you half cover it with a lid. I did sustain a hot apple lava bomb to the face last time.
Once its cooked out, turn off the heat. Oil your little dishes with some spray or wipe with olive oil. Spoon the mixture in to the pots but leave about 1cm at the top to put on the wax. And make sure there are no high spots, it will make it hard when trying to cover with the wax.
Melt your preserving wax as per the instructions and spoon over the hot fruit. Leave to set. You can then store them in your pantry for up to a year they say. Of course, mine won’t last that long. And I kept mine in the fridge. But that’s up to you. When ready to eat, run a knife around the wax seal and it should pop off.
It takes 3 days for the fruit to set. And last time I tried it at the 3 day mark. And that’s why I thought I failed. It tasted like overly sweet baby food. However, about 6 weeks later I had one lonely pot left so I took it on a trip to visit my little bro. Fearing the worst, we popped the wax seal and tried it. It was DELICIOUS! So that’s the trick, you need to let them sit for at least 6 weeks to develop in flavour. We thoroughly enjoyed it with a kick ass cheese plate.
I know it seems like a lot of trouble, but really it’s not. And because it lasts for such a long time, you could make one big batch a year. Now…will I be able to wait 6 weeks for this lot?