Preserving abundant summer fruits and veg provides sun-kissed flavours to enjoy in cooler months. But if you are a family of just two then it’s best to make small amounts. When jams, pickles and chutneys are left forgotten for months on pantry shelves they lose their summer flavour and colour.
• Jams and jellies need pectin to set. To test if a fruit has sufficient pectin, cook a small portion in a little water. When soft, take one teaspoon of the juice and combine it with one tablespoon of methylated spirits. Gently swirl and leave for a minute. If sufficient pectin is present, a transparent clot will form. If the pectin content is average, the clot will be less firm and may break up. A very broken clot indicates very little pectin. Adding a pectin-rich fruit (eg tart apples) or commercial pectin, could solve the problem. Or use jam-setting sugar.
• Testing for the setting point: the most reliable method is to use a good jam thermometer. Most preserves set at 104°C. Another method is the plate test — at the end of cooking place a spoonful of the jam on a cold plate and leave to cool slightly. If a skin forms on top and it wrinkles when the plate is tilted, the preserve will set on cooling. If not, cook for a few minutes extra and test again.
CURRIED COURGETTE RELISH
Relishes have less sugar than chutneys.
4 (750g) courgettes, coarsely grated
1 1/2 tablespoons cooking salt
3 (600g) apples, peeled, cored and diced
4 (500g) onions, diced
2 cups malt vinegar
1 1/2 cups raisins chopped
1 cup lightly-packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons curry powder
Place the courgettes in a large sieve. Sprinkle with salt. Stand for 2 hours. Rinse under cold water then squeeze dry.
Combine the courgettes, apples, onions, vinegar and raisins in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until pulpy. Stir in the sugar and spices until the sugar is dissolved.
Bring to the boil. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the mixture is thick. Poor into hot sterilised jars. Seal when cold. Makes about 6 cups.
This is a soft jam with divine colour. It’s delicious on scones and pikelets or drizzled over blue cheese and sliced pears.
2kg watermelon, peeled and seeded
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and grated
1/4 cup lemon juice
1kg jam-setting sugar
1 teaspoon butter
Place the watermelon in batches in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely puréed. You should have about 4 cups of purée.
Combine the purée, apple and lemon juice in a large, stainless steel saucepan. Stir in the sugar over low heat, until dissolved. Add the butter and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 4 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Skim off any foam. Test for setting. If it doesn’t start setting when a little is placed on a cold saucer, then quickly return it to the boil for 30 seconds. Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal. Makes 6-7 cups.
APRICOT & ORANGE CHUTNEY
No need to peel the apricots.
750g apricots, stoned and quartered
2 oranges, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
2 cups caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon each: salt, finely ground black pepper, curry powder, ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon each: chilli flakes, ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 cups cider vinegar
Combine the apricots and oranges with the other ingredients in a large saucepan.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours or until thick. Stir occasionally, especially near the end of cooking time. Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal. Makes about 4 cups.