Preserving Pumpkin and Squash

Preserving pumpkin

If you store it correctly, you can preserve squash in excellent condition all through the winter, however sometimes it’s easier to have some prepared and ready to use for when you don’t have time for peeling, chopping and cooking from scratch.

Preserving pumpkin in the freezer

In these cases preserving pumpkin by freezing it is ideal. Peel and deseed your squash or pumpkin and cut the flesh into smallish chunks. Cook in salted boiling water until tender or in the microwave, then place into freezer bags.

Preserving pumpkin from autumn onwards

To ensure your squashes will remain in the best condition while stored over winter, first you have to pick them at the right time. As autumn passes, keep an eye on your squash and pumpkins. They should be left to mature still on the plant right up until the first frosts so they become as sweet as possible. Once the frosts arrive you won’t be able to store your squash. While your fruits are ripening, place a board underneath so the bottom doesn’t discolour or come under attack by slugs.

Squashes are ripe when the skin is smooth but tough and when a sharp tap on the side rings hollow. The colour will be deep and rich. Cut your fruit off the plant as high up the stalk as you can using secateurs. Hold the fruit from the bottom rather than by the stalk. Allow the squash to cure in the sunlight or in a greenhouse or cold frame for about ten days, bringing them in at night if you’re likely to get any frost.

You can then place your squashes in a cool (between 10C-15C) and dry but well ventilated space to store them over winter. A well stored squash will keep for up to six months.

Preserving pumpkin in jars

Thanks to a low acid content, pumpkin can’t be canned in a water bath or in pureed form. It must be preserved in chunks, in a pressure canner. If you have a pressure canner, cook the pumpkin as for freezing, but use the chunks and cooking liquid to fill your canning jars, leaving only 2-3cm of airspace at the top. Place the jars in your pressure cooker according to instructions and process for the required amount of time.

The preserved pumpkin flesh is ideal for use in pumpkin pies, jams, soups or even pumpkin bread! Don’t throw away the seeds either when preparing your fruit, as these can be roasted to make a delicious, healthy snack.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Helpful Tips | Tagged , , | 0

How to Make Apple Juice

apple juice

If you have a juicer tucked away in a cupboard somewhere and have never really got to grips with what it can do, dig it out, give it a clean and get juicing! An easy way to get your five per day, juicing is delicious and fun. If you’re not sure what flavours you like or which fruits and vegetables work well in a juicer, start with apples. They’re healthy, plentiful and combine well with loads of other fruits and vegetables. Of course you could also enjoy the apple juice on its own, but the following recipes show you how to make apple juice in a variety of flavours.

As a general rule, core your apples before using as their pips can contain tiny amounts of cyanide and it’s not a great idea to eat too many, and, if you’re looking for how to make apple juice at its healthiest, try to buy organic – apples can be heavily sprayed and some of the chemicals remain on the skin. You want to leave the skin on to access all its nutritional benefits and organically grown fruit means you won’t have to eat so many chemicals with it.

Apple juice comes out clear or cloudy, depending which variety of fruit you use and what kind of juicer you have. Everyone knows that apples are full of health benefits, and juices are a great way to access their anti-oxidant properties.

Carrot, celery and apple juice

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 apple, cored
  • 1 celery stalk

Wash all your ingredients and chop to the right size for your juicer. Pass through the juicer, adding a little ginger if you want some extra kick.

Grapefruit and apple juice recipe

  • 2 apples, cored and sliced
  • 1 grapefruit, peeled and sliced

Pass the fruits through your juicer and drink immediately.

Spinach, broccoli and apple juice recipe

  • 3 apples, cored
  • 3 handfuls fresh baby spinach
  • Handful broccoli stems

Wash all the ingredients and chop the apples and broccoli stems to the right size for your juicer. Serve immediately.

Apple juice with nettles, celery and lemon

You’ll be surprised how sweet and tasty this juice is if you’re brave enough to go and forage for nettles!

  • 3 apples, cored
  • 3 nettle stems, with leaves
  • 2 celery stems
  • Half a lemon

Wash all the ingredients and peel the lemon. Chop everything so that it fits your machine then juice away and, as usual, serve immediately.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Uncategorized | 0

Apple Corer and Peeler

Apple Corer

With Autumn upon us it’s apple pie season. There are so many ways you can use apples in cooking but the process of preparing them can be tedious if you are handling large quantities. How long does it take to peel, core and slice 50 apples, for example? Wares of Knutsford has a solution in the form of a Deluxe Apple Peeler and Corer.

Deluxe Apple Corer

This easy to use device accomplishes peeling, coring and slicing neatly and fuss free. Hold the apple in place with its traditional clamp and turn the handle to remove the peel. Keep turning and the core is removed and the apple is even sliced for you. The device benefits from a suction base to hold it stable on the worktop while in use. You can also use the Deluxe Apple Corer and Peeler on potatoes. This is the easiest way to deal with large quantities of apples when batch cooking tarts, chutneys or sauces.

Apple tart recipe

  • 3 dessert apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 300g ready prepared puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons apricot jam

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a baking sheet, then leave in the oven to heat.

Toss the apple slices in the lemon juice to prevent them from browning then mix in the sugar and cinnamon and leave aside.

Roll out your pastry to disc with a diameter of 26cm and a thickness of 4mm. Use a knife to lightly score a 2cm border around the edge of the disc. Lay out the sliced apples in neat decreasing circles within the border. Glaze the pastry border with beaten egg and knock it with a knife a little bit to encourage it to rise. Chill the tart in the fridge for 20 minutes before baking.

Carefully slide the tart onto the prepared, preheated baking sheet and cook for 20-25 minutes, until it is golden brown at the edges. Heat the apricot jam gently in a saucepan and brush it over the tart gently to create a glaze. Serve the tart warm with a dollop of creme fraiche.

Alternative apple corer and peeler devices

If you don’t cook apples in large quantities, you can try more basic peeling and coring devices. Wares of Knutsford can also supply a stainless steel corer with a black nylon handle and a number of simple peelers. If you prefer your apples chunky, there is also a Deluxe Apple Corer and Wedger to cut wedge segments in one swift, smooth motion.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Helpful Tips | Tagged , , | 0

Buy Herb Mills Online

herb mill

Nothing lifts your home cooking like using fresh herbs. They add a depth and flavour that dried versions can’t touch and look fabulous in your garden or in pots on your window sill. Wares of Knutsford stocks some useful herb mills to save you time when preparing your fresh herbs.

Plastic herb mill

One of the simplest but most useful little gadgets sold by Wares of Knutsford is this white plastic herb mill and mint cutter. It’s a quick, safe and effortless way to grate fresh herbs – simply turn the handle on the side to rotate the internal stainless steel blade for perfect chopped herbs every tie. It’s dishwasher safe, suitable for any leafy herb and can be used left or right handed with a useful detachable handle. This will soon become an indispensable part of your kitchen kit and makes a great gift for keen cooks.

Professional herb mill

This stainless steel cutter by Kitchen Craft makes short work of chopping herbs. It features a comfortable handle atop a set of rotating blades, is dishwasher safe and comes with a 25 year guarantee. It’s a small and neat kitchen tool that’s easily stored using the integrated hanging loop. Use the cutter to achieve perfectly chopped mint, coriander, basil, sage or parsley, for example.

Herb scissors

This fantastic little device has a number of uses. With five stainless steel blades and a comfortable soft grip, non-slip handle, it will save you time chopping chives and will even moonlight as a document shredder!


The traditional way of chopping herbs at speed, an hachoir offers elegance and control. Wares of Knutsford sells three different kinds of hachoir. The single bladed hachoir is simple but competent, with a handle at each end of the arced stainless steel blade. It’s 18cm long, comes in a display box and is dishwasher safe. There is also a twin bladed option at 14cm for even quicker chopping.

If you’re planning to give an hachoir as a present, go for the gift boxed set, with a double bladed cutter and shaped 25cm beechwood chopping board.

Fresh herb sauce

A lighter, fresher alternative to creamy sauces, this will add an Italian flavour to your roast chicken or turkey.

  • 85g watercress
  • 50g fresh parsley
  • 50g walnuts
  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Chop the watercress and parsley with a herb mill and pulse the walnuts in a blender until finely chopped. Mix all the ingredients together until well combined and season well.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Helpful Tips | Tagged , , | 0

How to Store Juice

store juice

There are few flavours sunnier than freshly squeezed orange juice, or more energising than freshly pressed apple juice, but the problem is keeping juice fresh. In theory, you should drink fresh juice within a few minutes of squeezing it, but sometimes it’s necessary to either drink on the run or save your juice for later. The following advice will help you in keeping juice fresh for longer.

Go organic

The key is to maximise the nutritional content of your juice, so you need to aim for the best raw ingredients. Organic fruits and vegetables are said to have a higher nutrition content, so they should produce the healthiest juices, particularly for those fruits which are juiced with their skins.

Choose your juicer carefully

Different kinds of juicer can result in some juices that stay fresher for longer than others. Citrus juicers or centrifugal juicers work using friction and produce some heat, which can degrade the juice slightly. These juices will not store as long as others. Masticating juicers work slower and don’t produce the same levels of heat and friction, so the results will hold their freshness for a little longer, perhaps as much as 24 hours.

Store juice in a bottle

You could re-use plastic milk or water containers to store juice but sturdy, screw cap glass bottles are safer and more hygienic. Sterilised 1 litre mineral water bottles or similar styles are ideal, with tight fitting lids to avoid leakage.

How to store juice in jars

Decant your juice into jars as soon as it is produced, filling the jar close to the top to avoid leaving too much airspace – ideally no more than 1mm. Don’t worry if a little of the juice squirts out of the top of the jar when you seal it, as this just helps to minimise airspace inside. Just give the jar a quick wipe afterwards. Refrigerated the jar of juice straight away, and when you’re taking it out with you use a cool bag to maintain the cool temperature.

Drink up

While these steps will help you to keep your juice in the best possible condition for as long as possible, don’t put off drinking it for too long. The sooner you drink it, the healthier and more delicious it will be. Once the jar is opened, drink the juice in one go rather than resealing the lid and saving some for later.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Helpful Tips | Tagged , , | 0

High Quality Casserole Dishes

casserole dishes
Wares of Knutsford offers a wide range of casserole dishes, an essential part of healthy comfort food cooking to keep you cosy and warm this winter.

Cast iron casserole dishes

The classic dishes for casseroles are made of heavy duty cast iron, thanks to its durability and heat distribution properties. Giving an efficient and even spread of heat, your stews and casseroles will be evenly cooked, avoiding hot spots. The Wares of Knutsford versions come with a red exterior vitreous enamel coating and cream interior for hygiene and impermeability. Available in 2.5 litre, 3.8 litre and five litre sizes, the dishes can be used in the oven, on all kinds of hobs, under the grill and in solid fuel ranges. A pair of wide handles and a round knob on the lid makes them easy to lift and use while the dishes are dishwasher safe and come with a fifteen year guarantee. Not only do these dishes cook beautifully, they are also attractive enough to go from the oven straight to the table for serving.

Stoneware casserole dishes

Another popular material for casserole dishes, stoneware is also durable and easy clean. Wares of Knutsford’s Rayware Gourmet Kitchen Collection of dishes for casserole comes with a smart white finish including an integrated handle that won’t disgrace any table and is suitable for baking and roasting food along with casseroles and stews. The Rayware Gourmet Kitchen Collection is safe to use in the oven, dishwasher, freezer and microwave, making it ideal for both amateur and professional cooks and comes with a free recipe idea. Sizes include a mini 0.25 litre dish, 2.25 litres, and three litres.

The Harvest Round Casserole range is more rustic and traditional looking with a rich, brown country kitchen style exterior glaze and white interior. It comes in 1.5 litre and three litre sizes, with a domed lid and integrated handle. It too is oven, microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe. A number of matching brown pottery oven to table items are available including roasting, pie, flan and gratin dishes.

The Mason Cash Terracotta casserole dish range is particularly interesting and stylish. A soft terracotta, matt exterior is complemented by a glazed interior for easy cleaning. This range of dishes is ideal for rice based recipes or slow cooking and, long with a deep, 2.5 litre lidded dish includes three open dishes that can also be used for tapas and pies.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Helpful Tips | Tagged , , | 0

The Best Vegetables and Fruits for Juicing

vegetables and fruits for juicing

Juicing is a quick and easy way of accessing the nutrients contained in fruits and vegetables when you don’t have the time or inclination to prepare and eat them. Experimenting with juicing can be great fun but you’ll soon find that some fruits and vegetables are better than others for juicing.

The best vegetables and fruits for juicing


Packed with antioxidants, apples also combine well with a number of other vegetables and fruits for juicing, making delicious and interesting flavour combinations.


Their anti-inflammatory properties make pineapples one of the healthiest fruits, while their flavour adds a tasty tropical kick to your juices. Pineapples are also an excellent digestive aid, thanks to the enzyme bromelain, which helps the body to digest protein.


Carrots add a surprisingly sweet flavour to juices and boast a number of health benefits. Apple and carrot juice is a tasty and super nutritious blend.

Citrus fruits

Great all rounders in the nutrition stakes, a sharp tasty citrus juice is also one of the most refreshing ways to start the day. They work best when squeezed in a special citrus juicer, as the peels are not particularly tasty or beneficial to the health. Citrus juices also make a great addition to other juice blends and smoothies.


Not everyone loves to eat their greens, so one of the best ways to get a bit of kale in your diet is by adding it to a juice blend. The same applies to spinach, another nutrient packed dark green leaf.


Colourful and anti-oxidant rich, peppers add a crisp taste to juice blends.

The worst vegetables and fruits for juicing

Fruits and vegetables for juicing need a sufficient water content and the right consistency. Some of our most delicious fruits and vegetables are versatile in many other ways but are not shown off to their best by the juicer.


Often labelled a superfood, healthy avocados are great in the juicer, simply because they have no juice… However you can blend avocados to make super nutritious smoothies instead.


Pretty much the same advice applies to bananas. They are full of nutrients but their creamy consistency is best used to sweeten smoothies.


Papaya is a great digestive aid, helping the body to break down proteins. It can be juiced but its mushy texture works far better in a blender for smoothies.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Helpful Tips | Tagged , , | 0

The Healthy Carrot

health benefits of carrots

Few people need to ask ‘are carrots good for you?’ because we all know that carrots are one of the healthiest and most versatile vegetables. They have so many applications in cooking, even for making cakes, and are an excellent ingredient for juices, plus they taste delicious. But what exactly are the health benefits of carrots?

Nutritional health benefits of carrots

Carrots are packed with useful nutrients including high quantities of vitamins C, D, E and K plus vitamins B1 and 6 and pro-vitamin A. They are a source of important minerals including biotin, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and other trace minerals. While most people focus on the orange roots, the greens at the top of the carrot are also edible and contain lots of useful calcium, magnesium, potassium, protein and vitamin K.

Carrots are also rich in phytonutrients, which are great little chemicals for healing the body. Alpha, beta and gamma carotenes, lutein, lycopene, xanthophyll and zeaxanthin have all been found in carrots.

The most famous nutrient in carrots is carotene, a powerful healing antioxidant that is also the source of the bold orange colour of the vegetable. It has been suggested that carotene can help to protect against cognitive decline.

Wider health benefits of carrots

As an alkaline vegetable, carrots are favoured by those concerned about acidity in the blood and blood sugar levels. Their detoxifying effects can supposedly help to protect against acne, asthma, psoriasis and other skin problems and ulcers.

The arterial build up of artherosclerosis might be improved by carrot consumption while a high pectin content is alleged to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Constipation can be improved by drinking carrot and spinach juice or eating the whole vegetable raw to access its fibre content, while carrots’ anti-inflammatory properties can have a beneficial effect upon arthritis, gout and rheumatism.

As a diuretic, carrot juice can help to alleviate water retention, particularly for pregnant women.

Carrot juice is also sometimes taken to combat thread worms in children.

Above all, we are told that eating carrots can help you to see in the dark – and it’s almost true! The beta-carotene in carrots is transformed in the body to rhodopsin, a purple coloured pigment that can assist night vision. Beta-carotene has in fact also shown a preventative effect against senile cataracts and macular degeneration.

So you don’t really need to ask ‘are carrots good for you?’, you simply need to eat them – don’t get carried away though! Excess consumption of carrots has been implicated in a condition called carotenemia, which creates an orange tinge on the skin…

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Helpful Tips | Tagged , | 1

The Difference Between Juicing or Blending

Juicing or Blending

There’s a lot to be said for drinking your food, particularly if you need fast, tasty nutrition on the run. However it’s wise to consider the possibility that by sticking to food in this form only, you could be missing out on certain nutrients or dietary necessities. The essential difference between juicing v blending is that juicing extracts liquid from fruit or vegetables while blending up a smoothie retains the whole content.

Juicing or blending: all about juicing

The main benefit to juices is convenience. They are a clean and easy way to get your nutrition while on the move – which is no problem if you stick to low calorie, low sugar vegetables. However if your juice is fruit based and you drink a lot of it, it’s very easy to exceed you recommended sugar intake without even realising it. This is mostly because extracted juice doesn’t contain any of the fibre that makes fruits and vegetables so valuable.

However juicing does have some other benefits. That same lack of fibre makes juices far easier on your digestive system. With so little digestive work to do, your body can focus on taking all all the important nutrients and enzymes from the juice, avoiding the heavy feeling of fullness that eating whole foods can give you.

Juicing or blending: all about smoothies

The main argument for blending is fibre. An inescapable truth of juicing or blending is that smoothies retain the fibre that juices leave behind. You get the same fibre from drinking a smoothie that you do from eating the complete fruit or vegetable. Smoothies make it easier to obtain this nutrition if you can’t chew or don’t have time to prepare your fruit an vegetables another way. The higher fibre content in smoothies means you feel fuller and so are less likely to overload on sugar, while the fibre performs its usual job of slowing down the way your body absorbs and processes sugar. A good smoothie can act as a complete meal replacement.

Another advantage with blending is that you can add healthy supplements that aren’t easy to eat on their own – spirulina, wheatgrass and other nutritional powerhouses that don’t fit easily onto a fork can be comfortably blended into a tasty smoothie.

Ultimately both methods have their pros and cons. One advantage common to both is that by disguising the taste in juice and smoothie blends, it’s easier to drink some of the super healthy vegetables that aren’t appetising to everyone in their original form – have you ever tried making children eat raw kale, for example…?

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Helpful Tips | Tagged , | 2

The History of Apples

best apples

The apple is probably the most popular fruit to be eaten in the UK. It has a long history and massive cultural significance. The apple probably arrived in Europe via the Middle East and its cultivation in orchards was known of in ancient Greece, while evidence it grew wild in Neolithic Britain. However it was the Romans who introduced sweeter and tastier varieties to England.

Apples in England

The occupation of Britain by the Romans was followed by Jute, Saxon and Danish invasion, and the abandonment of many early orchards. The Norman Conquest saw the introduction of a number of new varieties of apples such as the Costard. The cultivation of new varieties began and new orchards were developed on monastery grounds. By the Middle Ages the Costard could be found all over the country.

Apple production in England foundered somewhat during the period of the Wars of the Roses and the plague, until Henry VIII began a project to find and cultivate new varieties. Cultivation remained haphazard until the agricultural revolution of the 1700s, when the science of pollination arose great interest among nurserymen of the time. Apple cultivation reached a height of popularity in Victorian times, with the introduction of lots of new varieties and a focus on flavour. The famous Cox’s variety was introduced by 1850, and the Bramley by 1876.

Post war UK apples

After WW1 apple growing became a commercial concern, seeing the development of higher yielding production methods and pest and disease control. Post WW2, new root stocks resulted in lower height apple trees, changing the process of harvesting UK apples by removing the need for long ladders and making collection from the ground easier. A further benefit was greater yield thanks to better sunlight penetration.

EEC membership removed importation restrictions, increasing the competition faced by English apple growers and seeing a rise in popularity of the Golden and Red Delicious and Granny Smith varieties, which thrived in the warmer foreign climates. Lower yielding English versions were bred instead for flavour and were unable to compete commercially with cheap imports. The last quarter of the 20th century saw English apple production shrink dramatically.

Since then, growers in the UK have worked on the cultivation of apples that were previously imported and have had great success with the Braeburn and Gala among others. The British climate that produces a lower yield also cultivates the best flavour, and some 1,900 plus varieties of apple are now grown in the UK. UK production has risen and now accounts for nearly half of the total British apple market.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1

Preserving Herbs and Vegetables

preserving herbs

Preserving vegetables, fruits and herbs is a simple but very satisfying hobby. It’s and easy and cost effective way to enjoy your favourite fruits and vegetables all year round. Pickles, jams and chutneys are the best known ways of preserving vegetables and fruits, but you can also try preserving herbs…

Gardens and farmers’ markets are full of delicious fresh herbs at this time of year, making it the perfect season to use them fresh but also to preserve them for later on when availability has passed, particularly frost tender herb such as basil, which turn tail and bolt at the first sign of frost.

Preserved herbs are excellent for adding flavour to your food and more economical than buying dried versions whose flavour fades before you have finished the jar. Mint, parsley, rosemary and thyme all produce great results through drying but others don’t respond well to this treatment, so you can try instead preserving them in vinegar, freezing them or making herb butters.

Preserving herbs by freezing

To freeze, place your clean, dry herbs over a baking tray – they can be whole or chopped – and freeze overnight. The next morning remove the herbs from the tray and place into sealed containers or bags in the freezer until you need them. They will keep for three to four months in this way before degrading. Chives are one herb that responds well to freezing.

Alternatively, finely chop your herbs and pack them into an ice cube tray, topping up the cubes with water. Freeze overnight then transfer the cubes to sealed containers, then return to the freezer. This is a great way of preparing herbs for soups and casseroles, for example.

Preserving herbs in butter

Herb butters are a flavoursome method of preserving herbs. Mince your herbs singly or as a blend, then mash one part minced herbs to two parts softened butter. Shape into small balls in the size you need and freeze. You can use them to melt into vegetables or onto fish and meats. This isn’t a new or revolutionary technique – think about freezing some garlic and parsley butter for quick and easy garlic bread!

Preserving herbs in vinegar

For a pretty result, rinse and gently pat dry your herbs and place them whole into clean, sterilised bottles. Fill the bottles with white wine vinegar and seal, then leave to infuse for 4-6 weeks in a cool, dark place before using in marinades, salad dressings or drizzled over vegetables. Tarragon is traditionally preserved in vinegar but rosemary and peeled garlic cloves also work well.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Helpful Tips, Inspiration | Tagged , , | 1

Vintage Jam Jar Covers

vintage jam jar covers

Jam making is one of those quaint, vintage hobbies that has come back into fashion along with a number of other retro pursuits. You don’t need any culinary skills to be able to make a delicious, fruity preserve as long as you can follow a few basic instructions, and then you can let your artistic skills loose upon the finished product. Wares of Knutsford supplies a massive range of jars for storing your preserves, but also a number of other accessories to present them at their best – spare lids, jar labels, modern and vintage jam jar covers and ribbons.

Vintage jam jar covers from Wares of Knutsford

There’s a wide range of attractive jar covers to choose from at Wares. Floral or fruity vintage jar covers tend to strike the appropriate retro note, and these can be bought in an assorted pack of five fabric covers or a pack of eight fruity and floral designs – two each of four pretty patterns – which come with handy fastening bands and co-ordinating ribbons, all designed for standard size jars. An eight pack of gingham or spotted covers works well for a modern or vintage look and again comes with two each of four colourways, fastening bands and co-ordinating ribbons.

If you preserve in large quantities, the 24 cover set is good value, with six each of four designs, wax and plastic discs and fastening bands for 1lb jars. Similarly there is a set of 30 decorated paper covers for 1lb or 2lb jars.

Using vintage jam jar covers to decorate your jars

The first step to decorating your jars is to label them. At the least you should include a title to describe the contents and then ideally the date of production and a best before date and storage instructions. It’s not a bad idea, if you have room, to include and ingredients list, so that people with allergies know if they are safe to eat what’s inside. You can consider going further by adding useful recipes or other ideas how to use the product.

The practicalities dealt with, it’s all about the pretty. Vintage jar covers used to be used in place of lids to seal the contents, but these days there’s no problem getting hold of lids, so covers are there for aesthetic reasons. A pretty cover and matching ribbon with your label can elevate your jam from something rather basic to a labour of love.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Inspiration | Tagged , , | 0

Kilner and Mason Jars, Brands of Quality

mason jars

Wares of Knutsford is pleased to offer jars by well known brands such as Kilner, Mason, Le Parfait and Leifheit. These long established names serve as a guarantee of quality, to the point that people often refer to any screw top or clip top jar as a Kilner or Mason jar, even if they are made by other brands.

History of Mason Jars

Mason is a brand name for jars invented by John Landis Mason, a tinsmith from Philadelphia, in 1858. They are often called Ball jars, which was the name of one of the companies manufacturing the product. They are made of transparent glass with an embossed logo and come with a metal screw top shaped to accept a rubber seal. Once used for commercial canning, these days they are more popular for home preserving and are sometimes known as Ball jars. Antique versions are now highly collectable items.

History of Kilner Jars

These are, in effect, an English version of the Mason jars. Made in Yorkshire by John Kilner & Co from 1842, the company went bankrupt in 1937. The jars have since been produced under licence by other manufacturers. Like the Mason jar, Kilner jars come in clear, embossed glass with a rubber sealed screw top or a clip top closure.

Other brands of Mason jars

A similar product is made by the German brand Leifheit, with jars in a diamond shape and a simple twist off lid or sealable disc and screw band lids, or by the French firm Le Parfait with its Familia Wiss range of terrine jars. Like the Kilner and Mason jars, these come with a two part lid – a screw band which holds a metal sealing disc in place. Spare lids can be bought from Wares of Knutsford.

While Mason and Kilner jars were designed for preserving and still popularly used that way, they have become extremely versatile homeware items with clever Wares of Knutsford customers coming up with all sorts of creative ideas for using their jars. These include as lanterns, as Valentine’s Day glitter jars, as snow globes, sewing kits, soap dispensers, cocktail glasses, vases and for all sorts of storage. Crafters use them to keep all their fiddly paraphernalia organised and easy to find, while parents have found them a useful way to store small toy items such as Lego pieces, beads, marbles, dolls’ accessories, hair clips, jewellery so that kids find them easy to find and easy to tidy up again afterwards!

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Helpful Tips | Tagged , , | 0

A Guide to Using a Slow Cooker

When it comes to easy cooking, the British love one pot wonders. For best results we recommend using a slow cooker. Cheap to run, they bring out the flavour of the food and most are easy to clean. Not only that but they work wonders with cheaper cuts of meat and make the most of vegetables. Prices start from around £20 and there are various guides available online to help you find the best one.

A guide to using a slow cooker

Think carefully about the size you need. slow cookerThe size quoted rarely refers to the space available for cooking. If you want to cook a shoulder of lamb or pork or a whole chicken with vegetables you’ll need to be thinking about 5 litres plus. Oval shaped slow cookers are especially suited to cooking whole joints and chicken. Also consider whether you want the insert to be hob-safe for browning.

As indicated above, it’s possible to turn cheaper cuts of meat into melt-in-the-mouth feasts. Shoulder of lamb or pork work well or even beef brisket or lamb neck. Don’t waste time chopping vegetables neatly – one pot meals are traditionally rustic. Designed to cook slowly for 6 hours +, it’s easy to prepare one pot casseroles the night before.

Unless you are able to render fat first by browning, it’s worth trimming fat from the meat. But don’t remove all of it, because it will still add some flavour. It’s also worth remembering slow cookers are sealed. Liquid won’t evaporate in the same way as from a casserole cooked in the oven. Therefore you will probably need less liquid. One tip is to toss meat in flour before adding to the slow cooker. This will thicken any liquid without adding a floury taste.

Slow cookers often come with variable settings – low, medium and high. We recommend using the low setting, at least initially. You don’t need a specialist cook book, at least to start with. Have fun with some of your family favourites, adjusted as suggested above. Recipes where ingredients can all be added at the start work best. Remember you can brown food if you buy a slow cooker with a hob friendly insert. But it’s not essential – you can brown meat and cook spices in a frying pan before transferring it to the slow cooker.

Cooking times are slightly harder to predict. If you are used to cooking a casserole for 2 hours, try leaving it on low for 6-8 hours.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Helpful Tips | 0

Buy Blackberry Jam Jar Labels

blackberry jam jar labels

With this season’s abundance of blackberries crowding out the hedgerows, there will be plenty of preserving needed to make the most of them. Jams and cordials are the most common ways to use up blackberries, but make sure you know what your jars contain by using blackberry jam jar labels. Wares of Knutsford have a wide selection of self-adhesive labels to choose from, with the ‘Words of Art’ range particularly popular.

Blackberry jam jar labels by ‘Words of Art’

The ‘Words of Art’ range of labels features images taken from original watercolour paintings by Rosemary and Caroline Wagstaff, a mother and daughter artist team. The labels come in packs of 18 in a useful 75mmx50mm size and are self-adhesive. A central, white panel is for writing the contents upon and is surrounded by a border of juicy looking blackberries. They are a very neat and simple solution to blackberry jam labels but the Wares of Knutsford range has plenty of other options if they aren’t quite what you are looking for.

Using blackberry jam jar labels

You don’t have to use the blackberry jam jar labels just for jam, they are equally suitable for cordial or any other blackberry preserving endeavours.

Blackberry and apple cordial

Cordials are very easy to make. Not unlike jam, they involve boiling up fruit and sugar, but in this case you don’t need to reach a setting point so the boiling time is shorter.

  • 500g blackberries, washed and stalks removed
  • 1kg dessert apples, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Granulated sugar – quantity determined by the amount of juice you extract from the fruit: you will need 400g sugar for every 500ml of juice
  • Water

Add the apples and blackberries to a preserving pan or any other large, heavy based saucepan. Fill the pan with water to about halfway up the level of the fruit and bring to the boil slowly. Simmer gently for 10-20 minutes or until the fruit is soft and squidgy – the riper the fruit, the quicker the process. Stir in the lemon juice.

Strain the fruit mixture through a clean piece of muslin or a very fine sieve. Measure the amount of liquid you get and add it to another, clean saucepan with 400g of granulated sugar for every 500ml of juice. Heat the cordial mixture slowly, stirring regularly until the sugar has completely dissolved. Turn up the heat and bring to a rapid boil, holding it for five minutes. Transfer into sterilised bottles and seal while still warm.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Fabulous Recipes, Helpful Tips, Inspiration | Tagged , , | 0

Make Your Own Wine from a Pinot Grigio Kit

Pinot Grigio kit

At Wares of Knutsford, we believe in making life simpler and easier. Home grown and home made might be the ideal, but not everyone has the time (or the know how!) to do everything from scratch. As such, we believe the Kilner ‘Make Your Own’ kits offer an excellent starting point for home brewing. You can learn how to make Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, cider, lager and bitter without having to buy lots of expensive equipment and ingredients.

How to make Pinot Grigio kit

The Pinot Grigio kit, made by Kilner, will allow you to make your own, cost effectively, in less than a month. The kit contains the ingredients for six 75cl bottles of wine – the standard commercial size – or 4.5 litres in total, based around the finest quality Italian grapes. You only need to add water.

Make sure all your kit is well sterilised and rinse before you start by adding your grape juice to water. The next part of the process is to add yeast and start fermentation, for which you will need to leave your wine to stand in a spot where an ambient temperature can be maintained, between 20C-30C. This stage complete, you add stabiliser and finings, as provided, before bottling. Ideally you’ll leave your bottles at least three weeks to mature before drinking.

The accompanying fully illustrated instruction guide explains the process step by step, making the whole experience stress free right from the start through to enjoying a glass of your own, home brewed Pinot Grigio.

Sharing the results of your Pinot Grigio kit

You may not be planning to venture into commercial wine making, but you will no doubt want to share your viticultural adventure so it’s a good idea to have a clue what you’re talking about! Pinot grigio is essentially the Italian version of the French Pinot gris grape. While the wine made from these grapes is white, the fruits themselves are gray blue in colour and the resulting wine varies from a rich gold to pale pink shades. The red wine version of the same is called Pinot noir.

The Pinot grigio grape produces an acidic but fruity flavoured wine. Different varieties of this grape are found all over the world but the Italian version favours a lighter and crisper drink than French or German varieties.

Explaining to guests that they are drinking wine you have brewed yourself makes a great conversation piece!

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Fabulous Recipes, Helpful Tips | Tagged , , | 0

Buy Preserving Pans Online

preserving pans

It’s true that you can use any heavy based pans for preserving, but like any job, it’s easier when you have the right tools. If you do a reasonable amount of preserving, it’s worth considering investing in a special preserving pan.

Maslin preserving pans

Known as Maslin pans, preserving pans are specifically designed in a large size to allow the fruit and sugar to boil safely without spilling over. These heavy, solid pans tend to come in the shape of a teacup, wider at the top with a smaller but thicker base. This shape allows a larger surface for the evaporation of water from the fruit, which encourages the proper concentration of flavours and prevents the fruit from scorching.

In theory these same properties could make a Maslin pan ideal for cooking a large ham, soup, stock or even lobster!

When you are looking to buy pans for preserving you should look for a sturdy handle to cope with the weight of a large, full pan, while a smaller, side handle can help to control the preserves while you are pouring. Measurements marked on the inside are always helpful while you also need an easy clean finish. Copper, while a beautiful material for pans, is not ideal for preserving as it can be degraded by acidic contents. The same applies to aluminium. Stainless steel and enamel tick all the right boxes and are popular finishes for preserving pans. Make sure any pan you buy is compatible with your hob.

Preserving pans at Wares of Knutsford

There are four different models of Maslin pan available at Wares of Knutsford. The nine litre stainless steel Maslin pan is a great all rounder. It’s stylish and easy to use, with both imperial and metric markings on the inside, a carrying loop and a side handle, a 5mm sandwich base for great heat distribution and a helpful pouring lip. A smaller, 4.5 litre version is a useful alternative if you preserve in smaller quantities or struggle to lift a larger pan.

If you prefer a more traditional look, there is also vintage style eight litre pan finished in black enamel or a red version by Kilner at the same size. This is made of super robust carbon steel with an enamel coating and comes with an easy grip handle, and internal measuring gauge in metric and imperial and a useful pouring lip.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Helpful Tips | Tagged , , | 0

Unusual Jars for Jam Making, Stylish Jam Jars

Unusual jars

The standard jam jar tends to be round, straight sided and come with a screw top lid. It is popular because it serves its purpose perfectly, and also because it is the regulation in competition jam making. However if you are making jam professionally and trying to create a certain image for your product, or if you are giving your produce as a gift, you may want to find more unusual jars, that look more sophisticated and decorative. Sometimes spending a little extra for eye catching packaging can pay dividends later on!

Unusual jars in round and square shapes

Globe or gourmet shaped jars offer an interesting variation upon the standard theme. Globe shaped jars are pleasingly squat and simple. They are available from Wares of Knutsford in a number of sizes – 106ml, 212ml or 314ml, with a choice of lids colours. Gourmet jars are slimmer at the bottom, filling out at the top and embossed with a handle effect on the sides. They come in the same sizes as the globe jars, plus an extra 580ml size.

Square jars look modern and sophisticated and are easy to store. Available sizes are 130ml, 200ml and 293ml and again with a choice of lid colours. They are also available as bargain packs, which are ideal for small business.

If you prefer round jars but like a smart look, tall, slim cylindrical jars look elegant in any setting and, with a small footprint, are easy to store. Gold or silver screw tops are supplied.

In the same vein, consider hexagonal or octagonal jars or those with clip tops instead of the standard screw caps.

Extra special unusual jars

Wares of Knutsford also sells some really individual unusual jam jars if you want your product to really stand out. There are two sizes of heart shaped jar – 106ml and 314ml – both with screw tops in a choice of colours. These are ideal not just for Valentine’s Day but to lend a touch of romance a year round!

The luxurious looking Grecian jar in 212ml is formed in the shape of an urn, with a choice of five colours of screw cap. The Macedonia jar, 580ml, is a similar shape to the gourmet jars but is embossed all over with a grape vine pattern. It too is supplied with a screw top in four colours.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Helpful Tips, Inspiration | Tagged , , | 0

Selection of Wine Bottles

wine bottles

Grape harvesting season is on the calendar, so keen home brewers will be stocking up with all they need in ingredients, equipment and bottles for wine making. Wares of Knutsford can supply not only bottles for wine but also other home brewing accessories and even complete kits to help novice wine makers get started.

Wine bottles at Wares of Knutsford

There are three different kinds of bottles for wine at Wares of Knutsford. The 750ml green glass wine bottles are the standard, seen housing red, rose and white wine all over the world. It comes in the traditional straight sided shape with rounded shoulders and a long, slim neck. A clear glass version is available in the same size. Don’t forget to stock up on corks or caps when you order.

Alternatively there is the 750ml Bordeaux green glass bottle, which comes with its own plastic screw top. It shoulders are higher and straighter than the standard bottle for a slightly more modern look.

All three kinds of bottles come in a choice of pack sizes – six, 12, 24 or 36. The bottles get cheaper the more you order, so buying for a business is affordable and friends can get together to share costs so that everyone saves. Remember that Wares of Knutsford charges the same flat delivery fee no matter how much you order, so you can feel safe to buy in large quantities.

Which wine bottles do you need?

Mark Twain considered that clothes make the man, and the same applies to wine. Wine makers have found that people prefer to drink wine from a standard bottle – this is how they expect to see their wine served. However there is a reason for using different colours of bottle, for example. The ultraviolet rays that make up sunlight can degrade the contents of a bottle of wine, which is why it tends to be kept in dark cellars. Wines that will be kept bottled for some time, if they need to age for example, are usually bottled in green glass, as the darker colour can protects its contents from the sun better than lighter glass. Lighter, fruitier white wines which don’t need to aged in the same way are safe to decant into clear glass bottles, which also serve to show off their lovely, delicate colouring. Consider how you will be using and storing your wine before you order.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Helpful Tips | Tagged , , | 1

Traditional Milk Churn Style Jugs

Vintage kitchenware

You don’t have to have Hyacinth Bucket tendencies to feel uncomfortable putting milk bottles on the table. Whether you are serving milk at the breakfast table for cereal, tea or coffee or cream for puddings, milk or cream decanted into a jug will be more aesthetically pleasing than a carton or bottle not only to any guests but also to yourself and your family.

Traditional milk churn style jugs

Wares of Knutsford’s classic milk churn style jugs come in three sizes: half a pint, one pint or two pints. Made of stoneware with a cream coloured glaze, the large spout and chunky handle make pouring easy. The jugs are microwave and dishwasher safe, making them as practical as they are pretty. The jugs are ideal in the kitchen or at the table and work equally well for all sorts of sauces or as vases for flowers.

Other milk churn style jugs

The classic spotty print has done sterling service in farmhouse kitchens for a long time and works equally well in traditional style kitchens today. Made of stoneware and available in 500ml and one litre sizes, it comes with handy measurement markers on the inside. A matching sugar pot and cream jug set, mug and teapot are available and, like the ridged cream jugs, this polka dot design does double duty as a flower vase. This design is microwave, dishwasher and even oven safe.

Basic custard recipe

So many puddings are enhanced by a creamy pouring of custard. Forget the packet mixes – there is nothing like real, home made custard served in a pretty jug to be poured over apple pie, rhubarb crumble or syrup sponge. It’s not a complicated process but requires some precision – don’t allow the custard to overheat or it will curdle, but it needs to be hot enough to thicken.

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 300ml whole milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until thick and pale. At this point you can add a teaspoon of cornflour, whisking in well if you need to stabilise the eggs.

Add the cream, milk and vanilla seeds to a saucepan and gently to just under boiling point, then pour over the egg and sugar mixture, whisking all the while. Pour the custard mixture into a fresh saucepan and put back on a very low heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir the custard thoroughly and constantly until it thickens to your taste.

Share and Enjoy

Posted in Fabulous Recipes, Helpful Tips | Tagged , , | 0