August in Periana is so very fruitful and we have been enjoying lots of peaches and are now trying to cope with a bountiful supply of figs, grapes and almonds. Bonnie our black lab has a preferred route for her morning constitutional which passes our neighbour Antonio’s plot so that she can pick her own grapes which hang from his hedge (or rather the chain link fence). Around here they tend to be the Muscatel variety, greeny red, very juicy and sweet. but complete with seeds. If you have become accustomed to the supermarket seedless/tasteless varieties just come for a walk around the village and sample these delights.
While on your stroll watch out also for figs which are all around and often never picked. We have this summer been asking our guests to help out so as not to waste these black beauties which grow in abundance in the garden at Cantueso. Figs are full of fibre and minerals such as calcium and magnesium and just two will contribute to your five a day quota.
For those of you reading this in Britain you can of course buy some at M & S but they will cost about 80p each!
We have as in other years turned some surplus figs to good use by making Fig and Ginger Chutney. Not very Spanish we know but our kitchen often make their own version which they call marmalade and use it as an accompaniment to Serrano ham or cold cuts. In case we can tempt you the recipe is below.
Fig & Ginger Chutney
1.3kg Figs, chopped
450g onions chopped
1.1l malt vinegar
450g cooking apples peeled and chopped
450 g seedless raisins or dates, chopped
3 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
900g granulated sugar
Chop as coarse or as fine as you like.
Place onions in a preserving pan or large saucepan with a little of the vinegar and cook to soften but not brown.
Add apples, raisins or dates and continue to cook until soft and pulpy.
Add the figs, ginger, salt, sugar and remaining vinegar, bring to the boil and then simmer until thick again. Be careful not to burn the sugar on the bottom of the pan.
Pot into sterilised jars.
Hints: if you don’t have a preserving pan with sloping sides evaporation of vinegar will not be as efficient so reduce the vinegar to 1 litre.
Sterilise jars by washing in the dishwasher. Ideally use Killner type jars but any metal cap jar will normally work well as long as they are sterilised.
Makes about 2.2 to 2.7 kg. Keep for at least two months before eating.
Cooking time about two hours.
and if you still have figs why not try
Figs in Syrup
1 kilo Figs
500g Caster Sugar
Juice of one lemon
1 Vanilla bean (cut in half lengthways)
1 tablespoon rum or brandy
Method:Place sugar, lemon juice, vanilla bean and 625ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Add the figs lower the heat and cook uncovered for about 20mins.
Remove the softened figs with a slotted spoon and set aside. If the syrup is still watery and pale, boil it a little more until thickened. Place figs in a suitable preserving jar. Let the syrup cool and then pour over the figs adding the rum or brandy over the top.
Place a disc of greaseproof paper on the top making sure the figs are submerged.
Once opened, keep in the fridge and use within one month.
Perfect for pouring over vanilla ice cream.