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

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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

Get the toast on!

Lime marmalade
Ingredients
  1. 5 limes
  2. 500g granulated sugar
  3. ½tsp bicarbonate of sodaLime marmalade ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Wash the limes under a hot tap with a clean, plastic scourer to remove any wax coating
  2. Slice the limes in half and squeeze well reserving the juice
  3. In a tall, stainless steel saucepan (aluminium can cause discolouration), simmer the limes in 1 litre of water for an hour
  4. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the limes from the saucepan and allow to cool for 5 minutes
  5. Using a spoon, scrape out the lime pith putting it into a jam strainer or square of muslin. Knot or tie it tightly with string before putting it back into the saucepan of lime liquor
  6. Slice the cooled, cooked peels very finely, add them back to the pan and top up with extra water until well covered
  7. Reboil for another hour until the peel becomes very soft
  8. Using the tongs or slotted spoon, scoop the peel out of the saucepan into a bowl or measuring jug
  9. Boil the cooked lime liquor, reserved lime juice and pith bag over a high heat until you have about 1 litre of liquid left.
  10. Squeeze the pith-filled bag with the tongs or back of the slotted spoon spoon as it boils
  11. Remove the bag, add the sugar and bicarbonate of soda, stir until the sugar has dissolved and bring back up to a rolling boil
  12. If you're using a jam thermometer allow the liquid to reach 105ºC/220ºF (this is the setting point for jam)
  13. If you're not using a thermometer, put a saucer in the fridge
  14. After the mixture has boiled for 10-15 minutes, put a teaspoonful of the boiling liquid onto the cold saucer, return it to the fridge and after 5 minutes do the jelly set test with your finger
  15. In the meantime, sterilise two 500ml jars & lids (or a number of smaller jars, enough to hold a kilo of marmalade)
  16. Once the mixture has reached the setting stage, allow to cool for 15 minutes before decanting into the jars, screwing the lids on securely straight away
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Adapted from Dan Lepard's lime marmalade recipe on the Guardian website
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Charity Vintage: Kilner jars

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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

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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

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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
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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

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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
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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/