The Iraqi Family Cookbook

The Iraqi Family Cookbook
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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Homemade Vinegar, - الخل بالفواكه

Vinegar making is a tradition in every Iraqi kitchen. We always serve pickles with meals, and vinegar is an essential kitchen ingredients that we keep in large pottery jars for pickling or salad dressing. 
Traditionally, we make vinegar using dates or grapes. I decided to experiment with fruit I have.I peeled a pineapple, and decided to put the core in a large mason jar. I added blueberries, a few dates and sugar.
The process takes a few weeks for the vinegar to mature; it takes a little of patience, but the result is very successful!

4 cups water
1/4 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed
core of one pineapple
1/2 an apple sliced
4 dates
1/2 cup sugar, divided
In a large clean jar, pour the filtered water. Leave 3 inches of space to the top of the jar,  to allow space for the fermentation process.
Add 1/4 cup of sugar and stir. Add all the fruit and cover the top of the jar with cloth towel.Secure the top with rubber band.(Fermentation needs air. This is why we do not secure the top of the jar completely).
Leave the jar in a dark area in the kitchen for 3 week. You will notice the bubble and fruit are rising up to the top due to the fermentation process. 
Line a strainer with cheesecloth and place on top of a stainless steel bowl. Pour the vinegar mixture in the strainer to catch all the fruit. Discard the fruit. Pour the vinegar mixture in a big jar. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and stir. Seal the jar halfway with the top cap. Cover the jar with a kitchen towel, and leave it to mature for six more weeks.
Line a funnel with a coffee filter and put it on top of a jar to strain the vinegar again. Now you are ready to use for salads or for marinades.

Apricot Jam-مربى المشمش

This is one of my favorite jams. I always have jars of homemade berry jams in my fridge, and I give them as a gift when invited by friends. Whenever I make yellow cake I drop a few spoons of strawberry or blackberry jam in the batter before I put the pan in the oven.
In this recipe, I do not peel the apricots. I cut each apricot in quarters. Ripe and soft apricots are best for this recipe.
1 pound fresh apricots
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon fruit fresh powder or lemon juice
In a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Add the apricots, fruit fresh powder and stir. When mixture starts to boil, reduce heat and simmer on medium low for 30 minutes. Make sure to skim off the foam that develops around the edges of the pot. Also, make sure to stir a few times to prevent the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pot. When water is almost absorbed and apricots are cooked, remove from heat and pour in canning jars. Seal the jars and leave on the kitchen counter until cool. Store in the refrigerator.
You can use this jam with cream cheese or a topping for apple cake.