Christmas jumper? Silly socks? Del-boy DVD? It’s just all a bit meh. Rustle up your own pickle, sauce, chutney or jam and give a gluttonous gift instead this year. It’s easy. Promise!
OK. Making your own sauces and preserves has a pretty fuddy-duddy image, but you don’t have to join the WI. These recipes are easy, scrumptious and make original gifts. And you can eat them! What’s better than that?
The Speedy Gonzales
Only 15 minutes to spare? Then make this quick salted caramel sauce. Left to cool and poured into a sterilised jam jar (see tip below), it’s delicious dolloped on mince pies or drizzled over Christmas granola. A lip-smacker of a sauce.
What’s the hurry? Avoid the furious frenzy and safari stampedes of the Christmas shopping experience and stay at home making marmalade instead. Yes, Sarah Randell's recipe takes some 3 AND A HALF HOURS, but only a fraction of that time requires any effort from you. Plus, while it’s bubbling away you are still technically cooking, which means you can snuggle up and do nothing. Result. In our opinion.
A relish to relish
Visiting friends for Boxing Day? Then take along Sybil Kapoor's cinnamon-spiced pineapple relish. It's tropical, spicy and utterly delish with ham. This one only lasts a couple of days, but don't worry, it’s bound to be gobbled up.
Some like it hot
If you’ve got a friend who does, leave the seeds in Katie Caldesi's chilli jam and it’ll really blow their head off. Spread on bread in place of butter it transforms a dry turkey sarnie into something rather special. Go on my son.
We've all got them. The cashmere-loving, designer-donning chums who openly admit they have everything. But do they? Do they, for instance, have a luxurious, irresistible, chocolate pecan spread made by you in their cupboard? No they don’t. Swirl in some melted white chocolate for a stylish two-tone effect and watch even the hardest to please swoon.
The boozers' choice
Give five people one bottle of mulled wine to share and they’d call you Ebenezer. But use it to make five jars of Lucy Jessop's boozy cranberry chutney and you'll be hugged and squeezed to within an inch of your life. This is way cheaper than buying everyone a bottle of grog and more individual, too.
Wish you were here?
This isn’t any cranberry sauce. This is Marcus Wareing’s cranberry sauce. And you don’t get Michelin stars for nothing. Give the family a jar if you can’t be with them on Christmas day and they’ll think of you even more lovingly as they tuck into the turkey. Flavoured with cinnamon, star anise, cardamom and port, you can’t get this in the shops.
All in a pickle
Don’t get in a pickle over the pressies this year, make one instead! Tangy, spicy and full-flavoured, this brave-hearted little pickle can take on Stilton and even the smelliest Stinking Bishop. Go crackers if you like and make the Christmas tree biscuits, too.