A Jumble of Jams, Jellies, Chutneys and Pickles! - September 2009
There are few things more satisfying then making your own preserves, whether they be from your own home-grown produce, or excess crops from family and friends - also known as desperate measures to offload 40 kilos of marrows, soft fruit, beans and onions etc in under a day! Alternatively, it may be that great bulk buy from the local Farmer’s Markets.
Making jams, jellies, pickles and chutneys is an ancient form of long term preserving – and who can fail to smile when opening a jar of ruby red strawberry jam in the midst of winter, the smell redolent of those heady summer days, even before spooning it on to your toast or scones and tasting it! Preserving is really very easy; once the fruit or vegetables have been picked, washed and prepared, the only other criteria is to have some basic equipment and clean, sterile jars or containers. Oh yes, you will need some spare time too! However, I always make my “jamming” days fun; I play my favourite music, make a big pot of coffee, have a few slices of cake handy and sometimes have friends around to join in the “jam session” – a real “Jam and Jerusalem” day!
This month, we have a wonderful array of preserves for you to try and enjoy – from chutneys to jellies, with a few unusual pickles and curds along the way. A great autumn plan to have a Well Preserved Pantry!
The basic equipment for preserving:
A preserving pan – this can be a large saucepan if you are not making jams or chutneys in large quantities, but it MUST be large enough to allow rapid boiling without risk of the contents boiling over! Preserving pans are also wide in shape thus aiding evaporation and a rapid setting point. Although I am a big lover of copper pans, the most useful are aluminium or stainless steel, as you can make nearly all types of preserves and conserves in them. (Copper is great for jams and fruit preserves, but not vinegar based chutneys and pickles.)
Spoons and Funnels – it is essential that you have a good selection of long handled wooden spoons for stirring. You will also find a slotted spoon helpful for skimming the scum that sometimes rises to the top of jams and a large metal spoon or ladle for spooning into the containers. I would be lost without my funnels – if you have to buy anything, do try to buy two good jam funnels in different sizes; they make it so easy (and safe) to fill the jars and containers.
Sugar thermometer – I don’t use one for everyday jams, but some people find them an easy and practical way to test the “set” on jams and preserves.
Containers and Jam Jars – You can start off buying a few new jam jars and bottling jars, but after a while, you will find that you build up a good supply of jam jars and other suitable glass containers. I keep ALL of mine, only replacing the lids with transparent covers when needed. Ask friends and family to keep some jars to one side for you and you should never need to buy any in the future. I also find lots of my lovely old bottling jars and Kilner jars in Bric-a-Brac shops as well as car boot sales.
Lids and Covers – If the lids on your reclaimed jars are not airtight or usable anymore, you can cover your jams, jellies and conserves with waxed discs and cellophane covers with elastic bands – you can buy these in packs, but be sure to check the sizes first. (This method if NOT suitable for pickles and chutneys, which need bottling jars with glass lids and rubber seals or new bottling jars with lids that are NON metallic – as the vinegar reacts with the metal.) If you are using bottling jars with glass lids, you can buy refills of the rubber seals – again, remember to check the sizes of your jars first!
Muslin and Jelly Bags – Muslin is needed if you are enclosing pips and spices to a preserve; jelly bags are needed if you are making jelly! These usually come with a frame, which fixes and suspends over a bowl, to extract the juice of the fruit.
Labels – you can buy them, but I always make my own and hand write them – however, it can be fun to design and print your own.
In addition to the above, you will also need the usual chopping boards and knives for preparing the fruit and vegetables.
A note on sterilising jars: Ensure jars are sterilised before you use them. This removes any bacteria present, which would cause your fruit to go off sooner than it would otherwise. I pop mine into a hot wash in the dishwasher, but you can wash them in hot, soapy water, then rinse them and stand them upside down in the oven at 150 C for 30 minutes. Your jars must be hot when you ladle in the mixture. It is essential to make sure that the lids are tight and create a vacuum and therefore an airtight seal. You should hear the lids “pop” as they cool down and form a vacuum thus creating a good seal.
Tip: Once the mixture is in, seal the jars immediately. Storage – Store your preserves in a dark, dry, cool area. Moist, warm conditions can encourage mould growth and thus spoil preserves, and light will bleach their colour.
A Jumble of Preserves – The Different Types:
Jam: Whole fruits that are slightly crushed and boiled with sugar. The most common of fruit preserves. Conserve: A preserve where the WHOLE fruits are suspended in a jam like sugar syrup. Alcohol is often added.
Jelly: A clear jelly type preserve, where the fruit has been simmered until soft and the juice is extracted. The juice is then boiled with sugar to create a jelly. Herbs and flowers are often added. Marmalade: Usually made with oranges and other citrus fruit, a preserve where the peel is diced and boiled with sugar. The peel can be fine to chunky and sometimes jelly marmalades are made. Chutney and Relish: A sweet and savoury preserve made with sugar and vinegar. Can include fruit and vegetables, as well as numerous spices. The word is derived from the Hindu “chatni”, meaning strongly spiced. Relishes are lighter and not cooked as long as chutneys; they have a shorter shelf life but are brighter in colour.
Pickles: One of the oldest forms of preserving, a way of keeping summer fruit and vegetables (and eggs) edible for winter. Usually only vinegar and spices are used, but sweet sugar pickles are also popular. National favourites include pickled onions, Branston pickle, piccalilli and Pan Yan.
Butter, Cheese and Curd: A fruit butter is similar to jam but is stiffer and smoother in consistency. As its name suggest, a small amount of butter is used. A fruit cheese is similar to a fruit butter, but is much stiffer and can be cut into slices – often allowed to set in ornate moulds and served with game and cheese. Fruit curds are richer and softer than fruit cheese and butter; they are made with generous amounts of butter and eggs for a creamy taste.
(There are also numerous other preserves, such as: bottled fruits, ketchups, sauces, cordials, syrups, potted meats, potted cheese and pastes)
Note: How to test the setting point with no thermometer. Have one or two saucers in your freezer; as soon as the jam starts to feel "thicker" and is very syrupy, after about 10 to 15 minutes, take the jam off the heat and put one teaspoon of jam on to one of the very cold saucers. Then push the jam with your finger, if it wrinkles and is firm and not runny, then the setting point has been reached. It is important to take the jam off the heat whilst you check! If the setting point has not been reached - put the jam back onto the heat and continue to boil rapidly for another 2 minutes, continue with this method until the setting point has been reached.
Karen Booth - Country Kitchen September 2009
Major Grimshaw’s Indian Chutney
A fabulous way to use up very ripe, brown bananas – in fact this chutney does not taste as nice if you use yellow bananas! I named this after an old school friend’s father; he had been in the Army in India and always had a staggering array of Indian style home-made chutneys and pickles on offer when I ate curry at their house. This chutney is fruity and mildly curried, and goes well with cheese, cold cuts and charcuterie. (Also wonderful with curry of course!)
900g (2 lbs) cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
225g (1/2 lb) seedless raisins
3 peppers: green, red and yellow, cleaned, trimmed and diced
1.8kg (4 lbs) very ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
450g (1 lb) onions, peeled and chopped
2-4 cloves garlic to taste, peeled and finely chopped
2 level teaspoons sea salt
350g (12 ozs) Demerara sugar
2 level tablespoons curry powder
1 level tablespoon ground ginger
1 level tablespoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
600ml (1 pint) malt vinegar
Place all the prepared fruit and vegetables into a large preserving pan with the salt, sugar and spices and mix well.
Add the vinegar and bring it to boiling point, then turn the heat down and simmer gently, stirring now and then until all the fruit and vegetables are soft, thick and pulpy. There should be no liquid left in the pan when you draw a spoon through the mixture.
Pot and cover immediately. Keeps for 2 years or more in a cool, dark place. Yield: 3-4 kg (7lbs)
Pan Yan Pickle - A British Classic
Remember Pan Yan pickle? It was a firm favourite in our home and my dad loved it slathered on top of cheese on toast! Now sadly discontinued, this fabulous British pickle with the catchy name is easy to make! I have fiddled around and recreated this recipe, and I am delighted with the results although I say so myself. Lighter and with more "tang" then Branston pickle, I love it in sandwiches. Adjust the curry powder to your own tastes.
450g (1 lb) Bramley apples, peeled, cored and minced/grated
450g (1 lb) dates, stoned and minced
450g (1 lb) sultanas, minced
450ml (¾ pint) malt vinegar
450g (1 lb) soft brown sugar
2 – 4 teaspoons curry powder
Salt and pepper
Stir all the ingredients together and leave for 24 hours.
Put in clean and sterilised jars. Seal tightly.
Tastes better after 2 weeks storage in a cool dry place and makes about 7 x 1/2 lb jars.
NB: I mince and grate my fruit in a food processor for ease. Add more curry powder to taste - it's the curry powder that makes this pickle The Real Pan Yan Pickle!
Mixed Currant and Lavender Jelly
Another concoction of mine born of necessity when I was left with small amounts of white, red and black currants! This tangy jelly has a few lavender flowers added towards the end, for an intriguing and delightful flavour. I have discovered that it marries beautifully with lamb, game and cheese. I see no reason why it cannot be used in desserts and cakes as well. I have not stipulated quantities, as this all depends on the amount of juice you extract to sugar ratio, an easy recipe according to what you have available in the currants department! (Avoid using too many black currants, as they have a very pervasive flavour!)
Mixed currants: white, red and black currants
1 lemon, juice of
Wash or wipe the currants, and drain. No need to top and tail them, or indeed strip them form the stalks! Weigh them and allow half pint of water (150ml) to every 1 lb (450g) in weight of currants.
Put them into a pan and simmer them until very soft and pulpy.
Strain them through a sieve or jelly bag overnight. Do NOT push the fruit through the sieve, as you will have cloudy jelly!
Measure the juice and allow 1 lb (450g) of sugar to every 1 pint (600ml). Pour the juice into a preserving pan, add the juice of 1 lemon and heat gently.
Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Then bring it to the boil and boil rapidly until the setting point is reached. Add the lavender flowers – about 1 teaspoon, or more to taste. Stir the flowers into the jelly and remove any scum.
Pot and seal whilst still hot. Keeps for up to 2 years in a cool, dark and dry place.
“High Dumpsy Dearie”(Traditional English Autumn Fruit Jam)
Nobody appears to know where this delightful name originated from, although it has been suggested that it was an enterprising farmer’s wife, using up her windfall fruit that came up with the quirky name. The jam is thought to originate from Worcestershire, although Gloucestershire also lays claim to it! Nevertheless, this is a wonderful jam, which makes full use of three of my favourite autumn fruits – Apples, Pears and Plums. The jam is a lovely deep rosy pink colour and is delicious not only on bread, toast and scones – but also when used in steamed jam puddings such as Jam Roly-Poly. Do not omit the lemon and ginger – they are the key to the flavour in this lovely jam. N.B. It is sometimes known as Dumpsie Dearie Jam. (Makes 7 to 8 lb of jam.)
900g (2 lbs) cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
900g (2 lbs) pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
900g (2 lbs) plums, halved and stoned
50g (2 ozs) fresh ginger root, bruised and tied in a muslin bag
2.25 kilos (4 1/2 lbs) sugar
1 lemon, juice and zest of, grated
Prepare fruit and weigh them AFTER they have been peeled, cored and stoned.
Place all the fruit and the ginger into a large preserving pan and simmer VERY gently for about 45 minutes, or until the fruit is very soft and tender. (Add some water if the fruit does not make enough juice itself – and keep stirring constantly to avoid the fruit sticking to the bottom of the pan.)
Remove from the heat and add the sugar stirring well. Put the pan back on a gentle heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice.
Bring up to the boil and cook rapidly until the setting point has been reached; test after 15 minutes and every 2 minutes thereafter.
Removes as much scum as you can – small knobs of butter helps to disperse the scum – add it and stir well.
Discard the ginger in the muslin bag – pressing it well before removing to extract the last of the ginger flavour.
Pour into cooled and sterilised jam jars and seal. Label and store for up to 2 years in a cool and dark place.
Serve with bread, toast, scones, cakes, pancakes and use in steamed and baked puddings and desserts.
Old Fashioned Spiced Apple Chutney
A delightful Scottish style apple chutney with the added kick of ginger. I make this every autumn when I harvest the apples from my garden - you can use windfall apples if you wish, although try to use good cooking apples with plenty of flavour and tang for the best results. (Bramleys are perfect) This is based on a family recipe and is a mellow and mild type of chutney.
1 lb onion, weight is for onions when peeled and finely chopped
2 lbs cooking apples, weight is for apples when peeled, cored and roughly chopped
4 ounces sultanas
1 ounce fresh gingerroot, grated
1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 lb soft brown sugar
1/2 pint malt vinegar
1/2 pint cider apple cider vinegar
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Place all the prepared onions and apples into a large preserving pan and add the remaining ingredients.
Bring slowly to the boil and then lower the heat so that chutney cooks at a fast simmer.
Stir the chutney regularly and make sure it does not "catch" and burn on the base of the preserving pan.
Keep on cooking until the chutney is the consistency of a thick jam and all the liquids have dissolved. (A trick to check if it is cooked is to draw your wooden spoon across the chutney, if the space that is left fills up with liquid, the chutney is not ready yet!).
Spoon the hot chutney into hot and sterile jars and seal immediately. Makes about 4 lbs chutney. Store in a dark and cool place and leave to mature for at least 2 weeks. Will keep in ideal storage conditions for up to 2 years+.
Strawberry Conserve For Traditional Cream Teas!
Also known as - "Essence of summer in a jar"! A fabulous recipe for a soft set strawberry jam, or rather a strawberry conserve, where most of the fruit remains whole and is suspended in a delicious strawberry flavoured jammy syrup. This conserve reminds me of the traditional Cream Teas you get in the West Country of England - especially Devon and Cornwall; a pot of tea served with fluffy fresh scones, butter, thick cream and this strawberry conserve. (Preparation time includes the 2 days allowed for the fruit to stand in the sugar.)
450g (2 lbs) small strawberries, left whole or large strawberries, halved
450g (2 lbs) sugar or preserving sugar
1 lemon, juice of
Place alternate layers of cleaned and hulled strawberries with the sugar into a non metallic bowl; add the lemon juice, but only if you are NOT using the preserving sugar, cover and leave to stand overnight.
Next day, transfer the fruit and sugar to a pan, bring slowly to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour back into the bowl, cover and leave again for another day.
Finally, transfer to a preserving pan, bring to the boil and simmer until setting point is reached - this takes about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little until the conserve JUST starts to set, this takes about 15 minutes. Stir once more to distribute the fruit evenly and pour into prepared hot sterilised jars and cover immediately.
NB: Only add the lemon juice if you are using normal granulated sugar and NOT preserving sugar, which contains pectin already. Makes about 3 lb of conserve.
Amazing Lemon Curd in the Crock Pot!
A wonderful classic British preserve - beloved of Ye Olde Tea Rooms throughout Britain! Spread it thickly on fresh baked bread, crumpets, muffins or hot buttered toast. This recipe has the benefit of being made in the Crock Pot/Slow Cooker, acting as a Bain Marie, which allows you time to being doing other things in the kitchen! I have also given instructions for the more traditional method if you don't have a slow cooker.
3 large lemons, unwaxed and organic, juice and zest of
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
150g (6 ounces) caster sugar
100g (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Put the lemon juice, lemon rind, sugar and butter into the largest heatproof bowl that will fit inside your slow cooker. Beat the eggs and then strain them through a sieve into the lemon curd mixture and whisk well until it is combined. Cover the bowl with a lid or foil if no lid is available and put it back into the slow cooker.
Put the bowl into the slow cooker and pour in boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the bowl.
Cook the lemon curd on a low heat for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it is thick enough to cover the back of the wooden spoon, stirring every 15 to 25 minutes - I left mine without stirring for about 30 minutes with no harm done!
Pour into warm sterile jars, cover, seal and label. Refrigerate.
Traditional Cooking Method:
Grate rind of lemons and squeeze out juice. Put sugar, rind and juice, butter and beaten eggs into a large basin over the top of a pan of simmering water.
Stir with a wooden spoon until thick and curd coats the back of the spoon. Pour into warm sterile jars, cover, seal and label. Refrigerate
Country Cottage Fig and Ginger Jam
We have a wonderful fig tree in our back garden, and this year I cannot keep up with all the fruit! We have had figs in salads, baked figs, figs and cheese - I have made fig chutney, bottled figs and figs in Armagnac...finally, I thought up this idea for a jam, as I think figs and ginger go so well together. It is delicious - and such a wonderful rich colour. Not only is it wonderful spread on toast or bread, but it is lovely dolloped on ice cream and hot desserts, or for steamed puddings! You need to use fresh figs for this recipe - you don’t get the same results with dried figs.
1.350kg (3 lbs) ripe figs, washed and diced
900g (2 lbs) sugar
1-2 tablespoon ground ginger
1 cooking apple, cored, peeled and diced
4-5 tablespoons crystallised ginger, chopped roughly
3 lemons, juice of, only
300 ml (1/2 pint) water
Transfer the figs and sugar to a large saucepan or preserving pan, add the apple, crystallised ginger, lemons and water. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the fruit is soft and setting point is reached.
Remove the jam from the heat and leave to cool for 20-25 minutes. Pour into warm, sterile jam jars and cover/seal straight away.
Label and store in a cool dark place for 2-3 weeks to allow the flavours to develop.