It’s that time of year – the season is changing and summer’s fruits and vegetables are coming to an end. The initial joy at the appearance of heavy tomato vines, blushing plums, glossy blackberries and gigantic marrows has probably given way to despair – how may ways are there to use cabbages exactly?
This is where preserving comes in – jams, chutneys and pickles. It’s fun, economical and healthy. It also allows you to be slightly smug about your domestic goddessness – or godliness! Make sure you’re thoroughly prepared, with both ingredients and equipment. Bulk buying is the key here. Wares of Knutsford have a fixed delivery charge, so five jam jars will cost the same in postage as 200 and of course economies of scale mean bulk packages work out cheaper on a per unit basis. Don’t forget to sterilise your jars before use!
Homemade jam or chutney – what’s the difference?
In essence, a chutney is a savoury jam. Jam preserves fruit through the medium of sugar, while chutney uses vinegar and sugar for a less sweet flavour. Shop bought and homemade jam usually has a fruit base but chutney can be made of fruit, vegetables or a mixture of the two. In fact chutneys tend to be created from a mixture of ingredients whereas jams are more often single flavoured.
Jams are focused around the flavour of the fruit, which is seldom adulterated, but chutneys are usually tarted up with spices and seasoning, including onion, garlic and chillies.
Both are excellent ways to preserve fruit and vegetables and are made in a similar way. You can fill jam jars for homemade jam with chutney or other preserves, just make sure to label the contents clearly!
Variations on homemade jam
Apart from the traditional jams and chutneys, you may have heard of the following:
Confit is usually preserved meat, particularly popular in France.
Conserves are jams that preserve the fruits in their original shape rather than breaking them down.
Fruit butter is basically jam where the fruit is sieved to a finer consistency, for a smooth, jelly like finish.
Pickling is a way of preserving ingredients in an acidic environment. It is commonly used for vegetables, fish, some fruits and even eggs.
Marmalade and curd are both ways of preserving citrus ingredients, but the latter tends to be smooth and is made with eggs versus marmalade’s jammy consistency.
If you’ve had your fill of all of those, don’t forget you can also make your own liqueurs, syrups and cordial drinks!