It’s the end of berry season and it’s time to start preserving so you can enjoy those rich berry flavours through the dark days of Autumn and Winter. If you haven’t preserved before you may think it’s a complicated business, but It’s actually one of the easiest things to do. All you need are your ingredients, a large heavy bottomed pot, a wooden spoon and some jam jars.

How do you sterilise jars?

To sterilise your jars, wash them in soapy water then pop them in a moderately hot oven until they’re dry. Alternatively if you have a dishwasher you can put the jars through a cycle and take them out while they’re still hot. Just be careful not to touch the inside of the jars or lids once they’re sterilised.

The process of preserving is easy too. Bring your ingredients to a rapid boil then reduce to a simmer until they thicken up. I add a knob of butter to stop a skin forming while it simmers.

How do you know the preserves are ready?

You could use a thermometer, but I just chill a saucer in the freezer, drip a little of the preserve onto the cold saucer, leave it for a few seconds then push my pinky through it to see if it has thickened. Jam will wrinkle to the touch.

Now it’s time to fill your hot jars. Make sure you fill them right to the top, then screw the lid on tightly and leave to cool. If you’re making jam add a circle of greaseproof paper to create a seal before topping with a lid.

How long do preserves last?

Once cool, the jam is ready to tuck into. Preserves benefit from a month or two stored in a cool, dark place for the flavours to develop. All preserves will last up to a year if stored properly, but once they’re open store in the fridge and use within a month.

Here are a few delicious jams and chutneys to get you started:

Blackcurrant and Raspberry Jam

Blackcurrant and Raspberry Jam

Photo: Food to Glow

 

Rhubarb, Strawberry and Ginger Jam

Rhubarb, Strawberry and Ginger Jam
Photo: Hedgecombers

 

Mirabelle Plum Jam

Mirabelle Plum Jam

Photo: Fab Food 4 All

 

Secret Raspberry Jam

Secret Raspberry Jam

Photo: The Crafty Larder

 

Smutty Sweet Chilli Jam

Sweet Chilli Jam

 

Photo: Tinned Tomatoes

 

Spicy Green Tomato and Apple

Spicy Green Tomato and Apple Chutney

Photo: Cook Sister

 

Rhubarb and Cranberry Chutney

Rhubarb and Cranberry Chutney

Photo: Food to Glow

 

Chunky Plum and Apricot Chutney

Chunky Plum and Apricot Chutney

Photo: Tinned Tomatoes

 

Spiced Tomato and Courgette Chutney

Spiced Tomato and Courgette Chutney

Photo: Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary

 

Spiced Cranberry and Plum Chutney

Spiced Cranberry and Plum Chutney

Photo: Ren Behan

All images used with kind permission of original owners.

Author: Jacqueline Meldrum is a freelance food writer and recipe developer. Jacqueline blogs at Tinned Tomatoes.

Read more articles by Jacqueline Meldrum here

 

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