Price Points: Preserve starter kits

Preserving starter kits | H is for Home

  1. Kitchen Craft preserving starter set, 4 pieces: £10, hobbycraft
  2. VonShef 9L Maslin pan jam preserving starter set bundle: £32.99, Amazon
  3. 5-Pieces preserve starter set by Kilner: £69.99, Wayfair

One of the things I love about the start of autumn is making jams, jellies, pickles, chutneys and all manner of other preserves. I made a batch of apple and chilli jelly this week… the first of the season.

Late summer is spent foraging for fruit such as wild raspberries, elderberries and blackberries. They’re added to the redcurrants that were harvested from our allotment in and are made into mixed fruit jelly.

You really should try it – it’s really easy, satisfying and far superior to most shop bought stuff. Get yourself one of these preserve starter kits and you’ll be quickly on your way to making your own.

Each has its own merits however, I’ve chosen #2 as the best of the preserve starter kits for a number of reasons. The most important component is the jam/maslin pan. It needs to be large, sturdy and made of the right material. It needs to be made of a non-reactive material such as stainless steel. Reactive metals such as aluminium and untreated cast iron can give a metallic taste to the food and can also cause discolouration. The pan also needs to be a good conductor of heat, for example, copper so that it achieves the high temperatures necessary in jam-making.

The next most important component is the thermometer. It’s not absolutely essential but, if you’re not entirely confident with using the cold saucer method, a thermometer is the foolproof way of knowing that the magic 105ºC/220ºF temperature has been reached.

A jam funnel is very useful if you’ve got shaky hands like mine, however buying the other components are less necessary. I have a huge store of different sized & shaped jars – I never put the finished jars of honey, mayonnaise, pesto etc into the recycling. With a little pre-planning, you shouldn’t need to buy jars specially for preserving. Just make sure ones you’re reusing have no chips or cracks and have their original airtight lids.

Having said all that – yes, both #2 and #3 come with jars as part of their kits. The former has the edge over the latter as the single 1-litre jar is much less practical than 6 smaller ones. If you store a litre of jam, jelly, chutney etc in a single jar you’ll have to eat all the contents within a couple of weeks of opening or it will go off. Also, you should store your preserves in the fridge once they’ve been opened. I usually have too much other stuff in the fridge to accommodate a litre-sized pot of jam.

In the years I’ve been preserving, I’ve never used a jar lifter (I use a pair of kitchen tongs), a jar wrench (just twist a dinner knife between the space between the lid and the jar) or a magnetic stick (again, I use kitchen tongs). So that’s 3 of the 4 Kitchen Craft items that would be neglected at the back of the cupboard. You could buy each preserve making component you think you’ll need singly – but it’s often cheaper to buy them as a bundle.

Lime marmalade

'Lime marmalade' blog post banner

Lime marmalade on a teaspoon | @hisforhome

We often have tea & toast when we return home after our morning dog walk.

Lime marmalade ingredients

Over the past few months, we’ve been eating delicious home-made lime marmalade made by Justin’s sister-in-law (hello Flora if you’re reading this!).

juiced limes

We ran out 3 weeks ago – and Justin has been suffering from withdrawal symptoms ever since.

cooked limes

We’ve made lots of jams, jellies and preserves in the past, but this is the first batch of marmalade.

sliced limes

The basic method is quite similar, of course…

boiling marmalade

…an intense boil of fruit with sugar with an added ½ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to get rid of any bitterness.

jars of home-made lime marmalade

 Five limes makes three standard jam jars full – so that should keep us going for a while.

home-made lime marmalade on toast

Bring on the toast!!

Plum pie
For the pastry
  1. 400g/14oz plain flour
  2. 120g/4oz icing sugar
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 250g/9oz very cold butter
  5. 2 egg yolks
For the filling
  1. 750g/oz ripe plums stoned & thickly sliced
  2. 140g/oz golden caster sugar, plus extra
  3. ½tsp ground cloves
  4. 1 heaped tbsp cornflourHome-made plum pie ingredients
Add ingredients to shopping list
If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
For the pastry
  1. Put the flour, icing sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine
  2. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely - you'll have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pea-size pieces and that's just fine
  3. Stir the eggs, just to break them up, and add it them little at a time, pulsing after each addition
  4. When the eggs are in, process in long pulses - about 10 seconds each - until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds
  5. Just before your pastry reaches this clumpy stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change, so listen out
  6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Very lightly and sparingly - make that very, very lightly and sparingly - knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing
  7. Butter the pie dish and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the dish and over the rim. Don't be stingy - you want a crust with a little heft because you want to be able to both taste and feel it. Also, don't be too heavy-handed - you want to press the crust in so that the pieces cling to one another and knit together when baked, but you don't want to press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly shortbread-ish texture
  8. Freeze the pastry for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking
  9. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 4
  10. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminium foil and fit the foil tightly against the pastry
  11. Bake the pastry for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil. If the pastry has puffed up, press it down gently with the back of a spoon
  12. Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes. Allow to cool before adding the pie filling
For the filling
  1. Put the plums, sugar and ground cloves in a pan
  2. Simmer until the sugar dissolves and the plums are juicy (8-10 minutes)
  3. Combine the cornflour with a little of the syrup, then mix well into the fruit
  4. Boil for another few minutes, stirring until thickened
  5. Allow to cool completely
  6. Roll out the remaining piece of pastry into a round and, using the rolling pin, carefully lower the pastry over the filling
  7. Press the pastry lid into the pastry bottom either with your thumbs or a fork. Trim the excess and brush the top with a little beaten egg
  8. Make a slit in the pastry lid to allow steam to escape
  9. Bake at 175ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 4 for 20-25 minutes or until crust is brown and juice just begins to bubble through the slit in the crust
  10. Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing & serving
Notes
  1. Serve with pouring cream or hot custard
Print
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Charity Vintage: Kilner jars

'Charity Vintage' blog post banner

collection of vintage Kilner jars for sale by & in support of Wesley Community Furniture(ends 23 Sep, 2014 20:07:23 BST)

With all the jam, jelly and preserve making that I’ve been doing this summer, I’m almost clean out of jars. I always give away a lot of what I make to family & friends so the jars are never to be seen again. This collection of 16 vintage Kilner jars for sale by & in support of Wesley Community Furniture* would set me up nicely again.

Kilner jars are great for preserves but are also useful for storing dry foodstuffs like rice, pasta, peas, beans, lentils and dried fruit. And they’re so much prettier than the plastic bags they come in!

*Wesley Community Furniture aims to work in partnership with others to provide furniture and other household items at the lowest possible prices to those in greatest need in Manchester, to further relieve poverty by providing jobs, volunteering and training opportunities, and to recycle and re-use as much of the material they receive as possible.



Preserved plums

'Preserved plums' blog post banner

washed plums in an aluminium colander

Justin’s parents’ neighbours have a few different fruit trees in their garden. In the past couple of years, we’ve had some of the harvest. Last year we made spiced apple chutney, the year before apple cheese. This year, we picked almost 5 kilos of plums – the sweetest, ripest plums we’d ever tasted!

spiced plum chutney ingredients

We both ate half a dozen each in a couple of days but we would never be able to work our way through many before before they began to get over-ripe. I’d already made jars upon jars of fruit jam & jelly this year, so I turned half into spiced plum chutney and half into plum jam.

bottled spiced plum chutney

I used recipes from the good old Cordon Bleu Preserving recipe book for both.

stoning plums

The job of stoning was a monotonous, boring job but the resulting preserves were well worth the toil!

plums with spice mixture

When the chutney was cooking the house was filled with the most delicious smell – I wish I could bottle that alone!

Here’s the spiced plum chutney recipe:

1⅓kg/3lb plums
1tbs ground ginger
1tbs ground allspice
2tbs ground mustard seeds
2tbs dried chilli flakes
10 cloves
30g/1oz salt
425ml/¾pt white malt or white wine vinegar
450g/1lb soft brown sugar

  1. Wash & stone the plums and put them in a pan with the ginger, allspice, mustard seeds and chilli flakes
  2. Tie the cloves in a muslin bag and add to the pan
  3. Add the salt and 300ml/½pt of the vinegar
  4. Simmer gently until the plums are soft (about 3 hours)
  5. Put the sugar into a large measuring jug/basin with the remaining vinegar and leave to dissolve. Add to the plums when cooked
  6. Bring to the boil and allow to boil gently until thick (about another 2 hours)
  7. Pour into warm, sterilised jars and screw down immediately
  8. Leave for 4-5 weeks before using

softened plums in a saucepan

And here’s the jam recipe

2.75kg/6lb plums
300ml/½pt water
3kg/6½lb granulated or preserving sugar

  1. Wash the plums, cut them in half and remove the stones
  2. Tie half the stones in muslin
  3. Place the fruit in a preserving pan with the water and cook gently until tender
  4. Add the sugar and heat gently until dissolved
  5. Add the bag of stones
  6. Boil rapidly for about 25 minutes or until the jam sets when tested
  7. Remove the bag of stones and pour the jam into warm, dry sterilised jars. Cover and tie down

plum jam boiling in a saucepan

It’s a deliciously sweet accompaniment to morning croissants.

croissant with plum jam

Blackberry jelly

'Blackberry jelly' blog post banner

Homemade blackberry jelly in jars

Wild fruit has been bountiful this year. During the month of August we foraged over 4 kilos of blackberries. We could have had much, much more; but it was all we could fit in our freezer. Besides, we didn’t want to be greedy – we left lots for other people and hungry birds.

We make blackberry jelly and mixed berry jelly every year; along with a few jars of wild raspberry jelly if we harvest enough of those. Blackberry jelly isn’t the kind of thing you can normally pick jars up of in the supermarkets. I’ve no idea why, it’s dark and delicious and doesn’t cost much to make. All you have to fork out for is some white sugar and a few lemons!

I normally use a recipe in my old Cordon Bleu Preserving recipe book, but this time I found the dead easy Quick Bramble Jelly recipe in Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course.

Next week Thursday, our Cakes & Bakes post will be about what we’ve been eating our jelly with. Stay tuned! 🙂

Blackberry jelly

Blackberry jelly

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo blackberries
  • 1 kilo granulated sugar
  • 3 lemons, un-waxed
  •  
  •  

Instructions

  1. Rinse & drain the blackberries in a colander in the sink
  2. Put the berries into a heavy-based saucepan or preserving pan with 400ml/14 fl oz of water and cook on a low heat with a lid on for 20-25 minutes
  3. Occasionally give them a mash to reduce them to pulp and squeeze as much juice out of them as possible
  4. Still on a low heat, add the sugar and squeezed lemons (the entire lemon - seeds, juice and actual lemon!) to the pan and stir until all the sugar has dissolved completely (about 10-15 minutes)
  5. Turn the heat right up and boil fairly rapidly for 8-10 minutes, stirring now and then to prevent it from sticking to the base of the pan
  6. Carefully pour or ladle the blackberry mixture into a jelly strainer set over a large heat-proof bowl or saucepan (you could also use a square of muslin set into a strainer over the bowl/saucepan)
  7. Using a wooden spoon, get all the liquid through as quickly as possible, squeezing the remaining pulp as much as you can - but do be quick, as the jelly sets if you take too long (if it does begin to set before you've had a chance to put it into the jar, just gently reheat it)
  8. Decant the jelly into sterilised jars, cover with waxed discs and allow to cool before screwing the lids down tightly
  9. They should store for a year or more
http://hisforhomeblog.com/food/blackberry-jelly/

Spiced redcurrant & red onion relish

'Spiced redcurrant & red onion relish' blog post banner

Spiced redcurrant & red onion relish ingredients

Last week we brought you a sweet, baked redcurrant recipe. This week, some more of our redcurrants are being used in a savoury preserve – spiced redcurrant & red onion relish. We’ve slightly altered a recipe we found on the BBC Good Food website.

We’ve not tried out our relish yet – we’re giving the flavours some time to steep. It’s meant to be really good teamed with a creamy goat’s cheese or charcuterie.

Spiced redcurrant & red onion relish

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: makes 1 x 450ml jarful

Spiced redcurrant & red onion relish

Ingredients

  • 2 medium red onions, peeled & sliced into ½cm square pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried crushed chillies
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 small knob of fresh ginger, grated
  • 200ml red wine vinegar (I used some of our home-made blackberry vinegar)
  • 140g muscovado sugar
  • 1tsp Chinese five spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200g redcurrants, de-stalked
  •  

Instructions

  1. In a heavy bottomed frying pan, cook the onions and dried crushed chillies in the olive oil over a medium heat until softened
  2. Remove from the pan and set aside
  3. Without washing out the pan, add the garlic and ginger with half the vinegar, bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes
  4. Add the cooked onion & chilli mix, sugar, Chinese five spice, salt and the remainder of the vinegar
  5. Bring back up to the boil then simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened
  6. Add the redcurrants and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until some of them have burst and the liquid has become syrupy
  7. Remove and pour into a sterilised, 450ml heatproof jar
  8. Screw the lid on tightly while still hot. Once opened, it keeps in the fridge for up to 3 weeks
http://hisforhomeblog.com/food/spiced-redcurrant-red-onion-relish/