Not willing to admit defeat, I had another go at making a fruit cheese last night. This time I used three apples and a tomato. An odd combination? Well, it was big, red, juicy and looked like it was on the verge of going off so I did not want to waste it. Anyway, this kind of cheese is meant to work as an accompaniment to milk cheeses and cheese and tomato is a classic combination.
After bringing the fruit to boil with lemon juice and a little water, I simmered it for 20-30 minutes. The result was mashed and left to cool a little before being strained to remove pips, stalks and other hard bits. I felt the result was too thin so I improvised an extra step to the instructions and boiled the fruit a bit more until it resembled a thin purée. That took the weight down from about 450g to about 250g before I added an equal amount of sugar; I suspect one error in the first batch was starting with a pulp that was too liquid and thus adding much more sugar than was required.
This was brought to the boil and then turned down to a low simmer and I kept a close eye on the pot, stirring frequently. I think the other error from the first batch was to get impatient and turn the heat up too high for a couple of minutes, bringing it to a second boil. This time I patiently waited as the purée reduced to a thick paste that began to make plopping noises as the mixture became too thick for smaller bubbles to form.
The mixture went into sterilized, oiled ramekins and turned out fairly easily this morning to give three pats of cheese that have been wrapped in greaseproof paper and put away to mature for a month. They look a lot more like the picture in the book although I wonder if it could have been cooked even thicker. It will take some patience but I am looking forward to trying the result in October.