October 21, 2019 6:39 am Leave your thoughts
If you’re baking for Christmas, it’s time to start thinking about stocking up on vital ingredients. Many caterers – and some serious home-bakers – will, of course, have started work on their Christmas baking months and months ago, freezing the end-results. For those of us working on a smaller scale, however, it’s generally felt that around six weeks is the ideal ‘maturing time’ for a rich fruit cake or pudding.
At Naturally Good Food the Christmas season is now well under way! Orders for mixed dried fruit, mixed peel, and items such as organic marzipan and vegetarian suet start to step up just as soon as we’re back from our summer holidays. We make sure our shelves are well-stocked in preparation, with the very best ingredients, for the very best Christmas baking.
At the base of fantastic Christmas baking, of course, is dried fruit: a little reminder of the sunshine in these dull and dismal days. Let’s take a look at our order-ahead Christmas dried fruit range.
Christmas prep: organic mixed dried fruit
We send out packs of our organic mixed dried fruit throughout the year, destined for mince pies, rich fruit cakes and comforting puddings. We take the finest organic sultanas, raisins and currants and mix them in a ratio of 2:1:1, to give the perfect blend.
Our organic mixed dried fruit is sourced from Greece and Turkey and is simply bursting with stored sunshine from the Med. Our currants have an intense sweetness, while our raisins and mellow sultanas provide a juiciness that’s just the right side of cloying.
We mix our dried fruit in packs ranging from 500g to 3kg, and can, of course, also sell you the full bulk boxes of dried fruit, if you’d rather mix your own (and have an industrial-sized bath or bucket in which to do so). For those catering on a large scale, we sell 5kg and 12.5kg bags of mixed vine fruit, although this is not organic.
Christmas prep: other dried fruit
Our organic mixed peel, for example, complements our dried fruit mixes perfectly and is one of our biggest sellers throughout the year. Beautifully bright, thick-cut, sweet, organic lemon and orange peel from Italy is mixed together in a citrussy, tangy, sticky combination.
Dates and figs are often eaten as Christmas treats, or called for in Christmas recipes. At this time of year, don’t stint on quality: our organic dates are so wonderfully toffee-ish, and our figs so very fragrant, that to provide anything less would be really rather Scrooge-like! (If you’re feeling particularly flush, our plump Medjool dates blow even our standard organic dates out of the water – though they do come with a price-tag to match!)
Organic prunes might sound a bit too worthy for Christmas treat-baking, but in fact, they’re often a vital ingredient, adding a sticky moisture and sweetness to recipes such as sticky toffee pudding. Great for reduced-sugar baking, you’ll find them in all kinds of luxurious recipes too. Our organic prunes are a sticky, rich, unctuous mouthful.
Dried apricots are one fruit where the difference between organic and non-organic is plain to the eye. Non-organic apricots are dried using sulphur dioxide as a preservative. The result is the classic bright orange colour (and a certain flimsiness of flavour, we feel). Organic apricots, by contrast, are a deep, dark orange, with a richness of taste to match. They’re perfect for nibbling and for adding to recipes.
If you’re baking a recipe that calls for chopped or diced dates, figs or apricots, then we’d urge you to do the sensible thing and buy a pack of ready-chopped fruit (we stock all three of these fruits in diced form). It’s much harder than you might think to chop a high-quality, juicy, organic fruit – these ready-prepared ones are coated with organic rice flour, to make them easy to handle.
We’ve got other dried fruit too, of course. Organic dried mango is a firm favourite throughout the year, as are our goji berries. For festive baking, we’d particularly recommend our diced papaya – tiny cubes of delicate pink and orange, beautifully candied and better than a sweet!
We’ve also got dried apple rings, pears, peaches and pineapple, blueberries and cranberries, banana chips, barberries, mulberries, natural colour glace cherries and the most amazing crystallised ginger.
Click here to see all our dried fruit.
If you’re making your Christmas cake in advance, then here’s what you need to do to keep it in the best condition for the big day.
Wrap the cake tightly in a double layer of greaseproof paper and then in foil, and store it in a tin or container, somewhere dark and cool. To help it stay moist, ‘feed’ it every few weeks with a couple of tablespoons of alcohol (brandy and whisky are good choices) – simply brush the alcohol over the surface and it will sink in.
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This post was written by Yzanne