Preserving Jar bread’s keeping factor

Had a phone call from the lovely Jessie from Paradise, the original source of this method, who solved the question of how long the preserving jar bread will keep without spoiling. She told me that the bread will keep for 10 to 14 days. During this time she keeps the jars in the fridge.

Sounds good to me, having more than a week’s supply of bread ready to hand.

It is so delicious toasted too by the way – just the right size to serve nice runny-yolked poached egg on top.

Crisp Crust enthusiasts

OK, so it wasn’t my final word after all, surprise surprise.

Not mentioning any names (Stephanie Kate, Miss Crunchy since childhood) – for those who think they only like bread with a crisp crust, all that needs to be done to make it so is to pop the loaf, once it’s out the jar of course, into a hot oven for a few minutes and presto – crisp and golden brown crust.

IMG_1886This is particularly good for those who have an oven on most of the time, or best of all a wood fired oven going at this time of year.

I’ve just done this with one of the wholemeal loaves cooked today.

The Bread that the Preserver Cooked

Time of reckoning this morning – would the loaves come out of the jars and what about the texture and taste?

Getting the bread put the jar was simple, no problem at all. The texture was good and it tastes delicious, albeit a little ‘yeastier’ than usual, but not too much.

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It made wonderful toast (no hard crusts, excellent).

So now I have the overnight wholemeal bread doing its final rising in the jars. I will cook this batch in a large pot on the stove this time, rather than using the preserver I did yesterday.

That overnight wholemeal dough by the way was sufficient for 5 jars.

Tomorrow I’ll go to collect three different types of sourdough plant from a very generous friend. With these I will make sourdough bread by the same cooking method.

This will bring the whole thing full circle to where it began – with the phone call during the talkback on Saturday where a gentleman asked how he could achieve a softer crust on his sourdough bread.

So many thanks to him for his question, and a huge thanks to Jessie from Paradise who set this incredibly interesting experiment in motion.

Overnight Wholemeal Bread

With respect to making the preserving jar bread, here is a slower rising dough that might be better suited than one that contains more yeast.

For the preserving jars Jessie said to half fill them.  For a Fowlers size 31 jar, Charly and I found that equated to 400g.

The jars were brushed with a little oil first.  I started out lining the bases with little circles of baking paper, but cutting them out became tedious, so instead opened out small patty paper cases and they were just the right size.

The rings, lids and clips were put on immediately and the dough left to rise till it reached three quarters of the way up the jar.

The water in the preserver was cold at the start, the setting on “Hold Boil”.  Once the boiling started, I left them for about an hour and a quarter, to be sure they’d cooked right through.

Overnight Wholemeal Bread

900g plain flour

375g wholemeal flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 rounded teaspoon dried yeast

30g butter, diced

1 tablespoon molasses, malt or honey

400ml boiling water

400ml cold warm water

In a bowl, mix together the flours, salt, sugar and yeast.

Add the butter and molasses, malt or honey to the boiling water and stir until melted, then mix in the cold water and cool the liquid to lukewarm. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.

Leave in a covered bowl overnight or for about 8 hours in a warm place.

Knock down and knead for a couple of minutes, then cut into pieces for shaping and cooking as suggested above.

Surprising Success

Well, what do you know! It actually worked, despite the overflowing of the dough. After the excess had oozed out, the jars sealed as usual.

The loaves appear to be light and fluffy and none the worse for wear for their slight over-yeasting.

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I am very pleased indeed – this idea and method has great merit. Thanks again to Jessie for passing it on yesterday.

I think this is a great way to keep a ready supply of bread on hand, without having to use the freezer to store it. Very energy efficient in that respect, once it’s been baked, especially as (in my preserver at least), you can fit 8 jars (i.e. loaves) at a time.

There’s no way it will dry out either while it is being stored. A method that’s practically perfect in every way……

Sunday Morning Baking

Sleepover with Charly and Jacob last night, great fun. Charly and I talked and planned for some baking this morning – much discussion until 11pm.

We decided to cook the cakes in the old wood fired stove, Carmichael. What a difference in texture it makes to the cakes, compared to when they are baked in the electric ovens. Well actually, there is no comparison – they are so light and fluffy and moist all at the same time.

Yesterday during the ABC Jams and preserves talkback, a listener, Jessie from Paradise, rang in and related how she cooks bread in Fowlers (or similar) jars. This can be done on the stovetop, in a pot with a rack in the bottom and the jars then surrounded with water and brought to the boil for 45 minutes. Of course a preserving kit can be used also.

With Charly so enthusiastic about cooking, it seemed like a good plan to trial it this morning.

We ended up one way and another with considerable chaos around us. We decided though that this is not necessarily a negative thing, in the spirit of its not being a mess, but rather a creative environment. And consequently we have named our two person team the ‘Dough-mess-tics”.

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Charly’s large cakes turned into her own version of Victora Sponge, a lovely lemon and lime icing she invented replacing the more usual dusting of icing sugar over the top. Her sultana and elderflower cupcakes, also with lemon/lime icing were a great hit, absolutely delicious.

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They’ve gone back home now, with their booty of cakes, and the house is strangely and a little sadly quiet.

Poppy the Puppy, after a lovely weekend of running around with Jacob and a serious and very necessary bath to remove the resulting mud in her fur, is now fast asleep on the couch recuperating.

A few minutes ago I dared to peek into the preserver to see how the breads were getting along. A bit much yeast I expect, as some have lifted the lids on the Fowlers jars. But that’s ok, means that this method is ideal for a slower rising sourdough mixture.

Still and all, although they may not be the prettiest loaves in town, if the aroma is anything to go by, they will still taste delicious, even if they are a bit soggy on the exposed areas.

And what’s more, it gives me an excuse to tomorrow to give this another try and hopefully perfect it – or maybe wait till I have re-established the sourdough plant and use that slower-rising type of dough.

All in all, the best of times ……

Grass, raspberries and freezer garden gooseberries

Finally, finally today the grass dried out enough (well, almost) to make it feasible to do the mowing. I was hoping the resident mowers (aka our 6 sheep) would come to the rescue, but with full bellies and a complacent look in their eye after eating a large amount of leaves from the olive tree, they have only managed to keep some areas down.

IMG_1856 All the mowing was finished safely enough, despite a few interesting and unintended slides and spins on the mower here and there.

Next project was to visit the ‘freezer garden’. I’d discovered several kilos of raspberries when I sorted through a couple of days ago, and lots and lots of gooseberries.

Of course there’s not a lot not to like about spending the afternoon in the cooking school kitchen with Carmichael (the old wood stove) alight.

It was interesting turning the raspberries out into the jam pans – they had come from different sources. Westerway Raspberry Farm’s were a darker, richer red, a Lachlan farm’s a lighter colour with larger but less pips, and our own patch’s crop with even more vibrant colour and medium amount of pips. Purely academic I know, but interesting – they made different colour jams too with subtle variations in flavour.

IMG_1860The gooseberries – well, see for yourself in the photo.

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They all needed to be topped and tailed.

Following the principle of the journey of a thousand miles beginning with the first step, I somewhat reluctantly set to work.

If I felt it was tedious, I reminded myself of the native lady on Lifou where we visited a vanilla plantation. Each vanilla bean, in the final stages before packaging, needs to be massaged to distribute the seeds evenly throughout the pods. She could do 2,000 per day – no complaints – and this with a new baby and a toddler in tow.

OK, so I did the gooseberries in batches like this – top and tail 50, stir the simmering raspberries, top and tail another 50, stir again, another 50, add sugar to jam and stir, plus 50, stir and so on.

In all there were 611 gooseberries (!), enough for a batch of jam and some to stew to bake gooseberry tarts.

All this time old Carmichael never missed a beat. The room was filled with warmth and some pretty amazing aromas, especially as I was able to cook a spiced meat mixture for an experimental bread at the same time.

By the end of this afternoon’s boilings, there’s now enough jam to share around the family, and some to put out on the stall at our gate tomorrow, both raspberry and gooseberry. It’ll be there from 8.30am – I’ll top up stock of other preserves too.

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Just Cruisin’

So here we are, back home from a ten day cruise. I always thought such travel would be more than a little boring, but we had a wow of a time. After all, what’s not to like about total relaxation, incredibly beautiful ocean and being waited on hand and foot? Then of course more food available than you could ever hope to eat.

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And that’s without even mentioning visiting the Pacific Islands of Noumea, Mystery Island, Mare and Lifou.

I will admit that the heat was a bit extreme for my taste by the time we reached Lifou, and thought longingly of our little cool space and place in the Valley. As they say, be careful what you wish for …..we went from one extreme to the other.

Robert and I did all the touristy things, like travelling through the incredibly beautiful countryside of Noumea on a “Tchou Tchou train”, wine and cheese tastings, swimming and snorkelling with tropical fish at Mare, touring a vanilla plantation at Lifou – all really enjoyable.

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It was interesting too, meeting all the different cultures on the islands. We were told in advance that French was widely spoken. Now I’ve always fancied myself as being quite good at French (mind you, that was about four and a half decades ago). I borrowed books from the library to brush up a bit beforehand, and was determined to communicate when and where I could.

Now that’s all very fine in principle, but when it came to face to face contact the proverbial cat got my tongue and I could only manage a Merci Beaucoup, Bonjour or Au Revoir.

Finally, on Lifou, I determined to do more. After the indigenous people sang and danced for us, the group of young men were standing around on the grass chatting, waiting until their next performance.

“I’m a happy man” said one, obviously trying out his English. Seizing my chance, I said “Jolie Homme!”. He looked at me a little strangely for a few moments, and then broke into a broad grin. “I’m a pretty man!!” he shouted and started dancing and falling about laughing.

Oh dear, belatedly I realised I’d used the wrong word. So much for my linguistic expertise. Think I’ll give that a rest from now on.

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It was all great fun nevertheless and not a single boring moment on board the ship or off. There was always something happening with the ship’s entertainment – from a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party through to the fantastic evening shows.

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Thanks to those who made it all possible, daughter Stephanie for arranging our bookings firstly, and the Carnival Spirit people who treated everyone on board like special guests.

And of course Kimberley’s Pet and Taxi Service who arranged for the wonderful David and Maree to come and pet-sit our menagerie of animals, so that they could be spoilt in the manner to which we have made them accustomed.

So here below are just a few more of the photos (just slightly crazy) from our first ever (and hopefully not our last) cruise.

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We’re back!

Just to let everyone know that we are back from a lovely ten day holiday (cruise, brilliant!). There are lots of phone messages and emails to answer, class reservations etc. I promise will reply to everyone by the end of today.

Slow Cooker Class tomorrow

(Some of) my slow cookers lined up in readiness for the Slow Cooking class here tomorrow. Should have pretty much a feast to share by the time we’re finished at lunch time.

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