Thursday 12 October 2017

Blue String Pudding (With No Artificial Colours)

   I love the Clangers. I do. I didn't grow up with it, but my mum did, and when her disability got worse, I found myself listening to and watching the things she liked. Not exclusively - she never liked sci-fi or fantasy, that was my dad, and I can't live without the stuff. And she did like reality TV, which I just can't stand. But when it comes to music, I'm rather fond of Human League and Genesis, just as she was, and I know she was still fond of the Clangers and Bagpuss. I bought the DVD of the original series years ago and fell in love with it. Then they revived the series in 2015 and my sister bought me the DVDs and I fell in love all over again.
   I love the Soup Dragon, and the music trees, and the blue string pudding. I wanted to make it forever, but I didn't want to use fake colouring, and I had frankly no idea how to make string without spaghetti. So it never happened.
   But the idea stayed with me, and upon the discovery of butterfly pea flower, which is used as a tea in many Eastern countries, it was suddenly back on the table. And, early this year, I came up with how to make the string: spiralising!
   But either I never had any suitable fruit on hand or any butterfly pea flower whenever the thought struck, so, again, it didn't happen.
   Until my neighbours brought over some pears from their pear tree. Most were pear-shaped (in a good way), but there was one that looked more like a banana. It was long and slender, with no bulbous end - no 'pear' shape - and I knew right then it was perfect. It would give constantly long spiralised pieces. So, because I had butterfly pea flower, I got right down to it!

   This Clangers' blue string pudding recipe is perfect for children because there's no added sugar and no artificial colouring. Butterfly pea flower is safe consumption and a natural blue food colouring, while the pear itself provides the flavour and the sweetness. In terms of taste, the flower isn't noticeable.
   This recipe uses 1 whole pear, which yields quite a big dish. If serving children, it could comfortably serve 2; but because it is only 1 pear, the entire yield only counts as 1 of your 5 a day. The pear is not baked, either, so the sugar is not concentrated, meaning the water content in the fruit remains and lessens the impact of natural sugars on the teeth.

   Now I need to make Soup Dragon soup. And see if I can be original and make it without peas or spinach...

1 pear
1 teaspoon powdered butterfly pea flower
50ml water

1. Mix the teaspoon of butterfly pea flower into the water, and set aside.

2. Peel the pear.

3. Run it through a spiraliser. Use a hand-held or counter-top, with a thick/average noodle blade. Try, if you can, to use a slender pear. You're more likely to find these in farmer's markets or independent orchards than you are in supermarkets, because they're not 'perfect'. The thinner the pear, the better; my pear measured about 10cm, and the longest 'string' was about 60cm. No joke - that's what spiralising does. A more pear-shaped pear will give long 'string' from the centre, but the bulbous end will yield much shorter pieces.

4. Transfer into a wide, shallow dish.

5. Stir the blue water, then pour over the pear strings as evenly as you can. Move them around so that they can soak it up. Leave to stand for about 5 minutes.

6. Drain the pear strings and serve. A dollop of whipped cream is wonderful, and also makes for a smoother, lighter blue.


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