Making Pickles and Preserves is not complicated and is a brilliant way to use up surplus fresh produce from the garden. Below are a few general notes of things you need to know when following the recipes here on the LFMG website.
Equipment you will need
- A large heavy bottomed saucepan or preserving pan (sometimes known as a Maslin) Do not over-fill a saucepan as the contents rise with the heat and the bubbling fruit-sugar mix is messy to clean up and the hot liquid can burn you (Don’t ask how I know that!)
- Wide-mouth funnel for filling Jars
- A Jelly bag or piece of Muslin for straining fruit when making a Jelly. You can suspend the Jelly bag over a bowl by suspending it from the legs of a upturned stool if you dont have a Jelly bag support
- Large spoon, knife and a Cutting Board
- Juice and small sieve for Lemon Juice
- Muslin bag or Herb ball
- Cook’s Thermometer (optional – see alternative below)
When making Preserves you will need to achieve a certain temperature to get a proper ‘set’ of your Jams and Jellies. The setting point for Jam and Jelly is 105°C or 221°F. The easiest way to ensure you cook your preserves to the correct temperature is to purchase a Cook’s Thermometer which has the significant temperatures (for Jam, Jelly, Toffee etc) marked along its length. You simply clip it to the inside of the pan with the ingredients, whilst heating them until they reach the point you require.
Alternatively you can use the Saucer Test. Simply chill a clean saucer in the fridge, whilst heating the contents of the pan for the required time. When you are ready, add a small spoonful of the Jam or Jelly to the saucer and chill it again for a couple of minutes. Remember to remove the pan from the heat whilst you do the ‘Set’ check. Push the puddle of Jam/Jelly on the saucer with your finger, if it looks wrinkly the Jam/Jelly has reached setting point and you can proceed to bottling. If the Jam/Jelly is not set, return the pan to the heat for a few more minutes and repeat the Test until your are satisfied setting point has been reached.
Potting The Jam or Jelly
The conventional way of potting up Jam involves wax paper discs and cellophane covers and elastic bands. I don’t do this and I have yet to have a problem with my method. You do need to have a cloth on hand and an amount of dexterity but it is otherwise very easy!
PLEASE NOTE Boiling Jam and Jelly has a high content of sugar and can burn – please take care when handling them and the Jars you are filling, and avoiding spills. This procedure should only be done by capable persons
ALWAYS use clean dry jars with well fitting metal lids (with the security ‘pop’ dimple). You can buy new jars and/or lids but I usually recycle my ’empties’. Wash the jars in clean, soapy hot water, rinse and dry them. Place the jars on a heavy baking tray with the lids on the tray (not screwed on the Jars!) and place in a preheated Oven for 30 mins at 150°C. Turn off the heat but leave them in the Oven whilst you finish cooking your Jam/Jelly. Jars should always be warm when you ladle the Pickles or Preserves otherwise they may crack or shatter.
When the Preserves have reached setting point, remove the jars from the oven, and using a wide mouth funnel and a ladle fill each jar to the ‘neck’. Immediately put the lid on and lightly screw it down. Using the cloth to hold the Jar firmly on the tray or work surface, give the lid a final tighten. As the Preserves cool, the Jar lid will ‘pop’ down and you will know that a good seal has been achieved. (Don’t worry about sticky Jars you can clean them up when they have cooled).
When you want to open a Jar use the tail end of a teaspoon to gently lever the lid a little, you will hear the lid pop when the seal is broken, you will then be able to unscrew the lid without difficulty.
When things go wrong
We’ve all done it, potted up some wonderful Jam that just never sets. It is thick but refuses to set! Never mind you can use it for dishes other than Sandwiches and Scones. Why not try one of these ideas:-
- Drizzle over Ice Cream
- Use it to flavour home-made Ice-cream
- Create a sauce
- Stir into plain yoghurt
- Add a spoonful to a helping of Rice pudding
- Use it in a Trifle
- ……..in other words use it as a Coulis!