Come over all homespun and right on-trend with this crash course in DIY jams, curds and condiments
Happy, homespun and a little haphazard, pickling and preserving are the trendiest crafts on the block right now.
As well as the utter contentment bred from spooning your own jam on to warm bread, it's a perfect example of how all things artisan and small batch are very much in vogue right now.
The only problem?
It can all look a little intimidating. Sterilising jars, prodding about with thermometers, waiting forever for thing to be ready … not so fun.
So we've enlisted the help of Kylee Newton, the author of The Modern Preserver (Hardcover, RRP £20, Vintage Books) and owner of Newton & Pott Handmade Preserves, for her advice on making it easy, quick and, most importantly, really, really delicious.
1. "The absolute best thing about getting into preserving …
… is that you get to store the seasons. Summer's strawberries, autumn's crisp apples. You can jar them and bring them out in the dead of winter."
2. "It's so easy to get started with pickling …
… because you've probably already got most of the kit in your house. A big pot to create the brine, old jars, salt, knives to chop the fruit or veg, plus good vinegar and spices, then fennel, cabbage or whatever you want to pickle."
3. "First of all, you need to sterilise your jars.
Wash them in hot, soapy water, rinse thoroughly, then put them on a low shelf in the oven on a low temperature for around 20 minutes to kill any bacteria."
4. "Try this recipe for fennel and orange pickle to begin with.
Just top and tail three fennel bulbs, then slice, keeping some of the tops to one side. Get 150ml of water boiling in a pan, then add 1 and a half teaspoons of salt, 50g of golden caster sugar, 400ml cider vinegar, one teaspoon of chilli flakes, one and a half teaspoons of yellow mustard seeds, half a teaspoon of black peppercorns, the zest of two oranges and half a lemon, and four bird's eye chillies. Simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat, and leave to cool slightly.
"Pack the fennel into sterilised jars and fill with the brine. Top with a few of the leaves and seal. Eat in a few days if you like, or leave to mature somewhere dark and cool over three months."
5. "Gin is great, of course.
Try pricking 60g of late summer's damsons or sloes, place in a large wide-rimmed 1.5–2 litre jar and stir in 150g of sugar, cover with one litre of 36–40% gin. Leave to macerate in a dark place at room temperature for up to three months, gently rocking the mixture daily for the first week to dissolve the sugar, then once a week thereafter. Yum."
6. "Jam can be a little trickier …
… as getting it to the right consistency can be quite technical. A great trick is to take a teaspoon of your mix as it starts to go from a rolling bubble to a more poppy bubble, put it on a plate, and put it in the freezer for a few minutes. Take it out, and push it with a spoon. If it creates a sort of wrinkly effect, then it's ready to jar."
7. "And it's always worth the effort.
It goes with so much more than just toast. Run it through yogurt, dollop on ice-cream or give it as a cheap present."
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