Jars of 'artisinal' jams and chutneys sell for high prices in upmarket shops. They're made in relatively small batches to ensure the fruit reaches the setting point as quickly as possible, locking in the freshest flavours. Jars of homemade preserves make lovely gifts for the holiday season: use your own handwriting to write out the labels, tie a pretty ribbon around the jar and pack into a small basket or box.
This sharp-tasting condiment makes a delicious spread for sandwiches. If it's too tart, add a little more sugar, but the flavours should be more savoury than sweet.
Processing the jars in a boiling water bath allows the chutney to be kept at room temperature; if you skip this step, it should be stored in the fridge.
600 grams fresh or frozen cranberries
15ml cooking oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp whole black mustard seeds
1 bay leaf, broken into three pieces
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
100 grams coconut palm sugar (gula melaka), chopped (or soft brown sugar)
60ml cider vinegar
1 wide strip orange zest (use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest)
1 wide strip lemon zest
120ml fresh orange juice
Heat the cooking oil in a saucepan, add the onion and cook over a low-medium flame until soft and translucent. Add the mustard seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, chilli flakes and salt and cook over a medium flame for about one minute, stirring con-stantly. Add the cranberries, palm sugar (or brown sugar), cider vinegar, orange and lemon zest and 200ml of water. Bring to a simmer then cook until the cranberries burst. Stir in the orange juice, bring to a simmer again and cook for about five minutes before ladling into sterilised canning jars. Screw the lids tightly onto the jars and process in a boiling water bath: bring a large, deep pot of water to the boil and insert a rack with short feet on the bottom. Put the filled jars upright on the rack - they should be covered by the water by at least 1cm. Bring to the boil, cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the water bath and cool.
To sterilise the jars, which should be done just before filling them with the hot preserves, wash them and the lids and place into a large, deep pot. Add enough boiling water to submerge them and leave for at least 15 minutes, then empty the jars (leave the lids in the hot water until you are ready to use them) and leave upside down in the dish rack for about five minutes.
This easy recipe comes from the food blog, Chez Pim (chezpim.typepad.com). It must be made with very fresh fruit; if the kumquats are old, they will shrivel up like raisins, so don't wait until February and attempt to make it with all the dried-up fruit from the Lunar New Year trees.
The kumquats must be poached slowly in sugar syrup; if cooked too fast, they'll burst. The recipe involves several hours of cooking time but only a little of it is hands-on work. The kumquats are delicious served with chocolate cake or plain pound cake.
1.4 litres of water
800 grams granulated sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
Wash the kumquats and drain in a colander. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the water in a large saucepan and add the kumquats. Cut a sheet of parchment to the same diameter as the saucepan and put it directly on top of the kumquats. Place a heatproof plate that fits inside the saucepan directly on top of the parchment (this helps to keep the fruit submerged so it cooks evenly). Put the saucepan over a medium flame and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to very low and cook the kumquats at a bare simmer for two hours or until the fruit is translucent (it usually takes longer). When the fruit is ready, remove the plate and parchment and skim any scum from the surface of the liquid. Cover again with the parchment and plate, put the lid on the pot and allow to cool at room temperature for six hours or overnight. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the kumquats into sterilised canning jars, leaving most of the liquid in the pan. Bring to a simmer over a medium flame and cook until the liquid is reduced to the approximate consistency of light corn syrup. Ladle the mixture over the kumquats while it is still hot, put the lids on tightly and either process in the water bath as in the first recipe, or store in the fridge.
This is another recipe based on one found on the Chez Pim blog. It suggests using greengage plums but works just as well with the purple-skinned sugar plums whose season lasts a lot longer. The flecks of vanilla suspended in the jam are beautiful.
1 kg fresh, small plums
500 grams granulated sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
2 vanilla beans
45ml fresh lemon juice
Rinse the plums then quarter them, discard-ing the pits. Put the fruit in a large, heavy saucepan, mix thoroughly with the sugar and salt and leave for about two hours, stirring occasionally. Halve the vanilla beans length-wise and use a paring knife to scrape out the seeds; add the seeds and scraped out pod to the pan. Bring to a simmer then cook over a medium flame, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the jam reaches the setting point. As the jam gets thicker, lower the heat and stir continuously, going back and forth with the spoon over the entire bottom of the pan so it doesn't burn. Occasionally test the consistency by spooning some of the jam onto a chilled plate - it's ready when the jam holds its shape. Scrape off any scum from the surface, add the lemon juice and then ladle the jam into sterilised canning jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, or store in the fridge.
Styling Corner Kitchen Cooking School