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Preserve Recipes

Recipes for Preserves: Pickles, Jellies and Jams and More

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Got a glut of food? Is your vegetable plot bursting with produce, your local shop selling off foods close to their sell by date or the Farmers' Market got a surfeit of seasonal foods? Then it's time to think about preserves and preserve recipes. Buying foods while they are cheap and diging out your favourite recipes for preserves is a great way to save money and with the investment of time you will have a store cupboard (or freezer) to be proud of. It's a great thrill in the winter months to open a jar, or freezer and bring back the scents and smells of summer to the kitchen. Preserves also make great gifts,made and given with love, what could be better?

Why Preserve Food?

sterilizing-jars.jpg
Dagny Willis - Getty
Preserving the harvest and storing food for the winter months has always been an intrinsic part of survival. In the days before freezers, supermarkets, and ordering on the internet, it was down to the individual (usually the woman of the house) to fill the store cupboard ready for the dearth of winter. Jams, jellies, pickles, chutneys, smoking, salting, drying, canning or bottling, were all part of the cook's repertoire.

Preserving food is, for many, no longer necessary for survival, but it is a great way stretch the budget. Preserving extends the shelf life of foods picked up cheaply and if done quickly, and correctly will often preserve the "goodness" in the produce.

Below are some of the most common methods of preserving foods today.

Jams, Jelly and Marmalade.

Jam and Preserves
Photo © gettyimages/Stockbyte
Think of preserves and usually the ones that first come to mind are jams, jelly and marmalade. Who doesn't love home made jam spread on a freshly baked scone or marmalade on a slice of toast? Making jam or jelly is great way to make the most of plentiful summer fruits, and it can be made with the minimum amount of fuss or equipment.
 

Freezing Food - How Lucky We Are

Photo © istock.com
100 years ago the thought of being able to freeze food in the home was unheard of and probably just a dream. In that dream, how wonderful to be able to make the most of fresh food, meat, fish vegetables or fruits and preserve it simply and quickly for eating later, and still almost as fresh as the day it was frozen.

There are few foods that can't be frozen, but there are some, so always check before you do. Diana Rattray, About.com's guide to Southern Food has great tips on freezing food including what can and can't be frozen and a time guide on freezing food.
 

Canning and Bottling- Fast Food at the Ready

Bottled Tomato Sauce
Photo © StockXpert
Canning, or bottling, as it is called in the UK, is the method of preserving food in jars. The food is packed into jars, sealed and sterilized to a high temperature. The foods are often submersed into a sugar syrup (fruit) or a salt water brine (vegetables). Meats or fish are processed - maybe a paté, or cooked and covered in fat, a 'confit,'then sterilized. Because the food is 'cooked' to a high temperature, all that's required is to open the jar and reheat - fast food at its best. It's important when canning that care and attention is paid to ensure the the food is safe.

Pickling and Chutney - Spice, Vinegar Plus Food

Pickled Onions
Photo © RFB photography
Pickling has been a way of preserving foods for centuries. The addition of vinegar (pickling) to food acts as an antiseptic, creating an acidic environment which prevents the growth of the bacteria which spoils food. Pickled cucumbers, onions, beetroot, fish, even fruits, are much loved pickled foods.

A great way of using up slightly overripe fruits and vegetables is by a long, slow cooking with sugar and vinegar to produce a chutney, relish or a ketchup. What would a piece of cheese or slice of cold beef be without them?

Smoking, Salting, Drying - More Ways to Preserve Food

smoked salmon
Photo © istock.com
There are other methods of preserving food which are not as accessible, or take longer than the ones above but are also a great way to preserve food. Smoking food is so much fun and how great to serve your own-smoked food to guests.
  • Smoked Salmon Anyone?
  • How to Buy a Smoker
  • Smoking 101

    Salting, though out of favor with many through the fear of too much salt in the diet even though most of the salt is washed away once the food is cured, is still a great way to preserve food. Ever tried making Graved Lax without it.

    Drying is so easy to do and one of my favorite's to dry are herbs. it is rare there isn't some herb or other drying in my kitchen Drying herbs is one of the best ways to preserve herbs for use year-round.

And to Drink - Liqueurs, Syrups and Cordials

Elderflower cordial recipe
Photo © StockXpert
Don't forget cordials, syrups and liqueurs when preserving foods. There are some lovely drinks that can be created from fruits, nuts and flowers.

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