In a Pickle

PUBLISHED: 13:27 13 July 2009 | UPDATED: 15:27 20 February 2013

Jam Jars

Jam Jars

Join the self-preservation society... or buy a jar of goodness from a local producer

In a pickle

Join the self-preservation society... or buy a jar of goodness from a local producer

It's time to get the jars out and head from the garden to the kitchen to make all those homemade accompaniments ready for winter.
Whether you're a jam fan, love a traditional chutney or are more adventurous and prefer a pickled banana, now's the time to be giving your left over produce a new lease of life.
Some shy away from preserving their own food because of the time it takes and the fact that products are so readily available in the shops. But it's more straightforward than many people think and making pickles, chutneys and jams with your own fair hands from your own ingredients can be very satisfying.
If you have a garden, pickling is a great way to preserve and enjoy your bountiful harvest. You can pickle just about any vegetable you can grow as well as nuts and fruit and it is a great way to preserve food that would otherwise spoil.
It also unleashes a whole new range of flavours and textures from a fruit or vegetable that you can only get through preservation.
In chutneys the main preserving agent is vinegar. Traditional British chutneys are usually made with locally grown vegetables or fruits, which need to be chopped and simmered with the vinegar, sugar, and spices.
For pickles you can either use whole vegetables like onions and gherkins or chop larger vegetables such as cucumbers and cabbages into pieces. They should be pickled raw in vinegar and flavoured with spices to keep their crunch.
Most chutneys and pickles need to be left to mature for a minimum of three months before eating to allow the ingredients to absorb the vinegar and for the vinegar to mellow. Apart from red cabbage, which loses its crispness after two to three weeks.

It's possible to pickle almost anything and the more adventurous can try bananas, melon rind or walnuts.
Jams and jellies are another method of preservation, which allow you to make the most of your soft fruits.
Jams are generally made by cooking fruit to a pulp with sugar and jelly is made by cooking just the juice of the fruit with sugar.
In order to set, both jams and jellies need pectin which is found naturally in fruit. Some fruits have a higher pectin content than others so you need to be aware of this when deciding what to use. The higher the pectin level the better a jam will set.
Fruits with high pectin content include cooking apples, damsons, blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries and some plums.
Low pectin fruits include blackberries, strawberries, cherries, pears and rhubarb.
You should always use fruit that's in peak condition when the pectin content is at its highest. Jams and jellies should be poured into clean, sterile jars and left to set with the optimum setting point being 104C/220F. When this has been achieved you should store it in a cool, dry area, away from direct sunlight, and use within the year.
But if you don't have the patience for making your own preserves or don't want to wait this long to tuck in, there is a variety of produce available from HEART of ENGLAND fine foods members and from your local farm shop.
Heather's Harvest, Shrewsbury: www.heathersharvest.co.uk
Three Counties Gourmet, Ledbury: www.threecountiesgourmet.net
Cottage Delight, Leek: www.cottagedelight.co.uk
Harvest of Arden, Stratford upon Avon: www.harvestofarden.com
Jam Today, Stafford: www.jamtoday.biz
Kit's Kitchen, Worcester: email kit.bamford@virgin.net
Creating Taste, Birmingham: www.creatingtaste.com
The Snoggable Garlic Company, Beckbury www.snoggablegarlic.com
For more information visit www.heff.co.uk

Events

November 6 - 8
Celebration of Local Food and Drink in Telford Shopping Centre.

November 7
Shrewsbury Local Food and Drink Fair, The Square.
November 28
Gingerbread Festival and Christmas Lights - Market Drayton town centre.
Tel: 01630 653114.

November 29 -30
Gorgeous Crafts and Food Fair Ironbridge Gorge Museum.

November 29-30
Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre.
www.ludlowmedievalchristmas.co.uk Tel: 01588 650307.

November 29
Christmas Fair - Maws Craft Centre, Jackfield, Telford.
www.mawscraftcentre.co.uk Tel: 01952 884620.




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