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A little bit of self preservation

A little bit of self preservation

Ah, it is the weekend and that means a bit of family time. Now this is not always as joyful as we would wish for - with a ten week baby and nearly two year old in tow - but we try our hardest to find an activity that gets us outside. And this week it will be preserves. Foraging and storing those wonderful fruits and veg that just won't make it into our bellies unless we are clever enough to cook them up into little pots of loveliness. Chutneys and jams are so fantastic and all the better when you have made them yourself.

So here are a two recipes that I love which will be useful at this time of year.

Bottled Raspberries - This recipe comes from Liz Neville, a virtuoso preserves maker with whom Pam runs the famous River Cottage Preserve Making courses near Axminster in Dorset.

Ingredients

  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 1kg firm, just-ripe raspberries
  • 100–-150ml brandy, gin, vodka or raspberry liqueur

Method

First make a syrup: put the sugar and 750ml water into a pan and heat slowly to dissolve the sugar then bring to the boil. Keep the syrup warm.

Pack the raspberries tightly into warm, sterilised jars. Make sure you don't bruise the fruit – a chopstick or wooden spoon handle is useful for gently prodding it down.

Pour the alcohol over the packed fruit. Fill the jars to the brim with the sugar syrup, tapping them to remove any air bubbles. Put the lids on the jars, loosening screw-bands by a quarter of a turn, if you're using them, to allow the steam to escape.

Stand the jars in a deep pan and cover with warm water (at 38°C). Heat to simmering point (88°C), over 25 minutes. Maintain this temperature for 2 minutes.

Carefully remove the jars and stand them on a wooden surface or thick folded towel. Tighten the screw-bands then leave the jars undisturbed to cool. When cold, check the seal by removing the clips or screw-bands and lifting the jar by the lid.

Use within 12 months.

A dark and sticky fruit chutney - From Notes from the Larder by Nigel Slater

Ingredients

  • brown sugar: a generous cup (250g)
  • figs: 8 large (about 2 1/2 pounds / 1kg)
  • malt vinegar: 2/3 cup (150ml)
  • cider vinegar: 2/3 cup (150ml)
  • onions: 9 ounces (250g), chopped
  • golden raisins: 9 ounces (250g)
  • salt: 1 teaspoon
  • allspice: 1 teaspoon
  • black peppercorns: half a teaspoon, cracked
  • coriander seeds: 1 teaspoon

Method

Warm the sugar in a bowl in a low oven. Coarsely chop the figs, removing any tough stems as you go, then put them in a large stainless steel or enameled saucepan. Add the vinegars, onions, raisins, salt, allspice, cracked peppercorns, and coriander seeds, then bring to a boil. Simmer for thirty minutes, until the onions and fruit are soft.

Stir in the sugar. Bring slowly to a boil, then turn the heat down so that the chutney bubbles gently. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes, with the occasional stir to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the mixture is thick and jamlike. Bottle in sterilized jars while hot and seal.

Makes a couple of jars.

And to serve - why not use one of our lovely condiments pots (though maybe use a bigger spoon after all that effort.) Right, off we go to the blackberry hedges. Pass me that baby carrier!

 

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