Turn your back on supermarkets and pompous farm stalls to produce your own army of condiments. Get used to chunky, home-made strawberry jam smeared over fresh farm bread, without having to go near an overpriced market. There’s your benefit and it’s easier than you think.
There are a couple of cardinal rules when making chutney, jams and pickles. Most important is to use sterilised jars. Do this by pouring boiling water in and out of the jars, then heating them in a medium-low oven for 10 minutes (or use a dishwasher). If you don’t sterilise the jar, the preserve is likely to go off fast. Also, there’re no preservatives in the goodies you’re making, so refrigerate once you open the jar.
Strawberry jam on roosterkoek bread
1kg cleaned strawberries, cut in half, 750g sugar, 2 tbsp lemon juice
Layer the strawberries with sugar in a container and leave overnight. The next day, heat the sugar and strawberries slowly, stirring occasionally to ensure that all the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice and bring to the boil, stirring often. It takes a long time for the jam to reach setting point (105øC). Test for the setting point by dipping a jam thermometer in warm water, then inserting it into the jam. If it reads 105øC, it has reached setting point and should be bottled immediately in warm, sterilised jars.
Tip No jam thermometer? Try this out: put a saucer in the fridge for a minute or so, then put a teaspoon of jam on the saucer. Let it cool for a minute, then push the surface of the jam with a finger. If it wrinkles, the jam has reached setting point.
Roosterkoek is a traditional bread that you can make on an open fire. Doing it at home? At a push you can use the oven grill – but a fire tastes best.
3/4 tsp sugar, 100ml lukewarm water, 10ml dried yeast, 400g flour, 3/4 tsp salt, 60g butter, 2 eggs, Sunflower oil
To activate the yeast, mix the sugar, yeast and warm water together, sprinkling a tablespoon of flour on top to prevent the yeast mixture from getting a dry crust, and leave in a warm spot for 10 minutes or until frothy. Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the salt and, using fingertips, rub in the butter. Next, beat the eggs lightly with a fork and add to the yeast mixture. Make a hollow in the dough, pour in the yeast/egg mixture and knead it well until you have a soft, pliable dough. Brush the dough with sunflower oil and place in a big bowl, cover in cling wrap or a damp dish towel and let it rise in a warm spot for about 40 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.
Then, knead the dough one more time (called knocking it down), and you’re ready for the interesting part… Break off a fist-sized ball of dough and flatten it with the palm of your hand. Put a dollop of strawberry jam (or chocolate) into the centre of the dough, and fold over. Press the edges down firmly and leave for about 15 minutes in a warm spot until it virtually doubles in size. Roast on a grid over coals on a medium heat until the roosterkoek is brown on both sides and cooked inside. Lekker with real coffee.
Tip: If you’re camping, place the dough around a stick and cook over the coals. When it’s ready, remove the stick and fill the hole with jam and butter. Serve with moer koffie.