The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is upon us, so it’s time to get cosy in the kitchen and start preserving the fruits of the season.
When the nights start drawing in and the leaves slowly begin to turn golden, homes around the country become filled with the smells of spicy chutneys and fruity jams bubbling away on stoves.
From candied apricots and vanilla flavoured peach marmalade, to guava jelly and mango chutney, the possibilities when preserving fruit in jars is endless.
Tessa Smith, who lives in Emsworth, owns The Chilli Jam Company which specialises in award-winning, handmade, gluten-free chilli jam and chutney, which ranges from mild Chilli Jam through to very hot Naga Relish.
She says: ‘It gives you very fresh ingredients when you make jam and it’s not very expensive to make either. You know exactly what has gone into it, and you can follow a recipe online if you’re not too sure where to start.
‘They have a lot of sugar in to act as a preservative, with that it can last for years.’
Jam is only ready to pot when it reaches setting point, or when the sugar thermometer shows 105 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can do the wrinkle test by pouring the jam onto a saucer, and leaving it to cool for a few minutes. Then gently push it with your finger and if it wrinkles, it has reached setting point.
Tessa adds: ‘I’ve cooked cherries before and not put any sugar with it, just a little juice, and it tastes great. You just have to use it quickly once it’s opened because there’s no preservative.
‘It seems difficult to make but it’s very very easy. You just have to start doing simple recipes and make sure you cook it for long enough.’
She says: ‘If you’re making it for yourself, you can put in anything, whether it be blackberry jam or onion chutney. You just have to try out different ways or recipes until you find the one you really like.’
For more information go to thechillijamcompany.co.uk.
(Makes about 1.5kg)
n Special equipment: Preserving pan, sugar thermometer, sterilised jars and sealants
Shelf life: 2 years
n 1kg raspberries
n 1kg preserving or granulated sugar
n Juice of one lemon
Layer the raspberries and sugar in the preserving pan. Cover with a cloth and leave overnight.
The next day, add the lemon juice to the pan. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring frequently until the sugar has dissolved.
Increase the heat and boil rapidly for 20-25 minutes or until the setting point is reached. Stir constantly towards the end of cooking to prevent it from sticking.
If wished, pass half the jam through a sieve to reduce the seed content, then return to the boil for 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and leave the jam to settle for a few minutes. Ladle into the hot sterilised jars, then seal.
Preserving Through The Year by Oded Schwartz is published by Dorling Kindersley, priced £16.99. Available now.