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Preserving - General tips

 

Types of Preserves

 

See below for general preparations of ingredients and equipment - click here for recipes

 

Jams and Marmalades

 

 

 

Jam is a cooked mixture of fruit or vegetables with sugar which is boiled  and bottled. The large amounts of sugar used prevents micro-organisms growing and allows the jam to be kept for months. Marmalades are always made with a citrus fruit e.g. oranges, lemons, grapefruit, tangerine. Used  as a spread or in recipes.

 

 

 

Conserves

                                                           

 

These are usually made with whole or large pieces fruit which is  suspended in a thick syrup. The fruit is layered with equal quantities of sugar and left for 24 hours. It is then boiled for a much shorter length of time than jam which preserves the fruit closer to its original state, both in form and flavour. 

 

 

Jellies

 

 

 

 

These take longer to prepare than jams and conserves, the end product being more clear and smooth. Many jellies are served with savoury foods  e.g. Mint jelly with Lamb or cranberry jelly with poultry.

 

 

Curds

 

 

These are made with the addition of eggs and butter . They are opaque and smooth and can be used as a spread or in various recipes. They are not a "true" preserve and have a much shorter keeping time - 1 month in a cupboard or up to 3 months in a refrigerator. Consequently,  they should be made in smaller quantities. The best known are Lemon or Orange curd, but they can be made from other fruit such as raspberries and tangerines.

 

 

 

Pickles and Chutneys

 

 

 

 

Pickling utilises vinegar as the preserving agent, preserving larger recognisable pieces of fruit or vegetables whilst chutneys are made from finely  chopped ingredients. Both pickles and chutneys can be sweet or sharp and are usually served with savoury foods such as cheese or cold meats.

 

 

 

 

Vinegars, Oils and Ketchup

 

 

 

 

Vinegars and oils are infused or flavoured with herbs, spices, certain vegetables or fruit and are then used for  pickling, bottling or in salad dressings or recipes.  

 

Ketchup is cooked using vinegar and extracts from a single fruit or vegetable. It  is usually served with savoury foods for an added "bite".

 

 

 

GENERAL NOTES ON EQUIPMENT, INGREDIENTS AND PREPARATIONS

 

 

Preserving Equipment

 

Cooking  Pan - This should be a large, wide heavy-based saucepan which allows the preserving mixture to only come halfway up the sides of the pan. This is to ensure that when the contents are boiling rapidly they don't spill over onto the hob. Special preserving pans are best however, any large saucepan will suffice.

 

Long handled Wooden spoon - for stirring the preserve during cooking

 

Slotted Spoon - useful for skimming of any surface scum on jams

 

Jars and bottles - most shapes and sizes, old or new will suffice so long as they are free from cracks, chips or flaws. The most convenient size for jars are either 450g/1lb or 1kg/2lb. Prepare the jars by washing well in warm soapy water. Rinse thoroughly then place the  jars on a baking sheet and dry in a cool oven (140C, 275F, Gas Mark 1) to sterilise. Fill the jars whilst they are still warm to prevent cracking. For pickling, wide necked jars are the most convenient. The lids or corks for bottles should be boiled for 10 minutes just prior to using.

 

Covers and labels - Waxed discs, cellophane covers, rubber bands and labels can be bought from cook-shops, department stores or some  supermarkets, stationers and chemists. 

 

Ingredients used for preserving

 

Fruit - Always use just ripe or slightly under-ripe fruit as the pectin levels decrease substantially in over-ripe fruit. Pectin is essential to achieve a good set which is why some recipes call for extra pectin in the form of sugar with added pectin or citric or tartaric acid. Always wash fruit before use

 

Vegetables - always use fresh unblemished vegetables for pickling. The end results will only be as good as the original ingredients used. Always wash vegetables before use.

 

Sugar -  Granulated, lump or preserving crystals are the most suitable. Caster sugar is also suitable. Brown sugar can be used but will alter the colour considerably.

 

Vinegars - This should be of good quality with an acetic acid content of at least 5%. All Red and White Wine vinegars have this content as do most Cider vinegars. Use cider vinegar for sweet pickling and red wine vinegar for pickling darker vegetables such as red cabbage or beetroot as it gives a better colour to the finished product.

 

Oils - Use a bland oil such as sunflower or groundnut so that the added flavouring is not overpowered. A mild olive oil can also be used.

 

 

Preserving Techniques

 

Timing and quantities - These are not given in the recipes as both can be substantially altered depending on the state of the produce used. In general , for jam  add the amount of sugar and fruit to determine how much preserve will be made i.e. 3lb Sugar plus 3lb Fruit - total yield = 6lbs. You will therefore need between 5 and 7 x 1lb jars. Very soft fruit will reduce down more.

 

Testing for a set - Remove the pan of jam from the heat. Drop a teaspoonful of jam onto a cold saucer. Allow it to cool then gently push your finger through the jam.  If it wrinkles a satisfactory set has been achieved. If it doesn’t, return the saucepan to the heat and continue to boil for a few more minutes then test again.

 

Filling and covering the jars/bottles     

 

General - A

 

Jams, jellies, curds, chutneys - Fill the warm jars to the top, wipe the rims with a damp cloth then cover with a waxed disc (waxed side down) whilst the filling is still hot. Allow to cool then cover with cellophane, securing with a rubber band. For long term storage, secure the cellophane with a screw top lid.

 

Pickles and preserved fruit/vegetables - Fill the warm jars to within 2.5cm/1 inch of the top. Pour over the preserving liquid e.g. oil, vinegar, alcohol,  to within 1cm/ 1/2 inch of the top making sure the fruit or vegetables are completely covered. Immediately cover with a waxed disc (waxed side down), a  cellophane cover and a screw top lid. This is to prevent the preserving fluid evaporation.

 

Bottling vinegars and oils -  Fill the warm bottles to within 2.5cm/1 inch of the top then seal with a non-corrosive screw top or cork.

 

Storage - Always store in a cool dark place unless the recipe says otherwise.

 

 

   

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Key techniques required to make this recipe

 

Boil - To bring a liquid to boiling temperature and to maintain it throughout the cooking time.

 

Chop to – To cut into pieces of approximately the same size

 

Slice to -  To cut food, such as bread, meat, fish or vegetables, into flat pieces of varying thickness.

 

Tips, Options and Substitutions

 See above

Main equipment required to make this recipe

 

Chopping Knife

Chopping Board

Saucepan

Wooden or Plastic Spoon
 

Related Recipes and Information

More Jams, Pickles, Preserve Recipess

Other Accompaniment Recipes 

Side Salads

Vegetable Side Dish  Recipes  

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