Instructions for Waterbathing
Leave until quite cold, then label and store. As the contents cool they will shrink again and leave a gap.
During the expansion stage it will have pushed all of the air in the gap out through the loosened cap, once you tighten the cap and the contents shrink you will be left with a vacuum which will not allow yeasts, moulds or bugs to grow.
You will now be able to keep your preserve for at least a year at ambient temperature - not in the fridge.
This method is suitable for cordials and things like sauces that have already been cooked and are still hot.
You can use the same process for various fruits which may need a longer time being sterilised - follow the recipe.
Be careful with low acid ingredients like tomatoes and most vegetables - they usually need to be pressure canned which is a different process.
A loving spoonfulYou may have seen my post on Facebook about the Apricot Spoon Fruit I made yesterday when I promised to post the blog link? When I looked for said blog I found I hadn't actually written one on this particular recipe . . . . this is odd because I have a definite memory of doing this!
However, it is simple enough. The unusual name dates back to a time when diligent housewives in Greece would make delectable sweetmeats called Spoon Fruit to serve to their friends who may come to call socially. Instead of proffering a cup of coffee and a biscuit, a small tray would be placed in front of the guest who would know that everything had been prepared by the lady of the house. There would be a small cup of strong black coffee, a glass of iced water and a spoon fruit on it's decorative silver spoon, resting on a saucer. It was just a sweet mouthful but plenty to restore spirits and for the guest to know that she was being revered. What a charming custom.
The fruits may have been plums or cherries, or, as in this case, apricots.
I had three large jars to fill so used seven apricots per jar - there were quite large fruits. I had halved and stoned them and packed them into the jars quite tightly. I tucked three pieces of whole vanilla pod down the sides of each jar and laid a sprig of flowering thyme across the top.
The point about the spoon fruits is that they are poached in wine of some kind which generally matches their colour and flavour. I used a 375ml of Beaumes de Venises pudding wine - I emptied it all into a small saucepan and added 50g of caster sugar. Heat this together until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is hot. Divide equally between the three jars - if you don't have quite enough to fill the jars top up with boiling water.
Put the lids onto the jars bit do not do them up tightly. You will need to process the jars in a waterbath for around 30mins - seal the lids when you remove the jars from the pan. Most recipes will suggest poaching the fruit in the wine before putting into the jars but I find just heating them in the waterbath keeps them in better shape. ( For waterbath instructions follow link in red above)
If you don't have visiting friends to impress then eat your Spoon Fruit with good quality vanilla ice-cream or creamy rice pudding as a boozy pud.
If you plan on doing a lot of bottling - and many people are returning to this very important skill - then we have a splendid new piece of kit which makes the water bathing and jar sealing easy.
It's official name is an Electric Steriliser and the one we have listed at the moment is a 27 litre capacity. It will take 14 - yes 14 - stacked 1 litre clip top preserving jars at once making it a very economic way of water bathing in bulk. This is not a pressure canner so don't confuse the two however it does come with processing times for some soups and meat dishes.
When not being used for your preserving it makes a very good urn for drinks or soup, mulled wine - anything liquid that you want to heat and serve. A convenient tap allows for easy filling of bottles or dispensing of drinks - or emptying at the end of a processing session.
The totally fabulous Tom Press Steriliser available from Lovejars
Home Made Yoghurt
To start your yoghurt making experience you will need a small carton of good plain yoghurt - this is once only, not needed for future makes.
Yoghurt is so easy to make - you just need one of those wide neck flasks, mine holds 900ml. Heat the amount of milk that will fit your flask until just before it reaches boiling point. Once I see those tiny bubbles forming, but before they break, I take it off the heat. Leave it to cool until you can put your finger in it - still hot, but bearable. Stir in 2 tablespoons dried milk powder. Put a small carton bought plain yoghurt into a jug, mix in a little of the hot milk and mix well. Add the mixture to the rest of the milk and stir to combine. Pour into the vacuum flask, seal it up and leave overnight. In the morning you will have lovely thick, plain yoghurt, which you can flavour or not, as you choose. Soft fruit, rhubarb, jam - whatever takes your fancy. Empty into a jug or bowl, cover, and keep in the fridge.
When you want to make some more, just save a small amount ( about the size of the small carton) to start off the next batch. The measurement is not critical.
That's it - enjoy!
Quick Soda Bread
We have some home-made soup for lunch today - just a mishmash of vegetables chopped and cooked in some butter then chicken stock added. It liquidised to a lovely sweet-potato-red and has a really creamy texture. I have bottled some of it in Quattro Staglione bottles which I find really convenient for storage. You can find details on water bathing to sterilise the contents of jars and bottles by entering waterbathing into the Search bar on this page.
The bread is really quick and easy and great if you have no yeast to hand.
500g plain flour ( I had to use SR ! )
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
400ml live plain yoghurt
A little milk if necessary
That is the basic ingredients - I replaced a little of the flour with a handful of porridge oats to give texture.
Pre heat oven to 200 deg C/ Gas mark 6
Sprinkle a baking sheet with flour.
Mix the first three ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the yoghurt*.
Mix quickly together with a round ended knife adding a little milk if the dough is too stiff.
It needs to be quite slack unlike normal bread dough.
Draw together any stray bits of dough with a very quick knead by hand and then shape into a round.
Place on baking sheet, sprinkle with flour and cut a cross into the top with a sharp knife.
Bake for 40-45 minutes - it should sound hollow when tapped underneath.
This bread won't keep - eat the same day either with soup as we are going to do, or spread with your favourite topping - eaten warm with plenty of butter it is fantastic. Any leftovers can be toasted the next day.
If you have any favourite seeds they could be added to the dough, cheese and onion maybe - experiment!
*To make your own yoghurt cheaply and easily Search this page for instructions.
After a lot of diary examination and juggling all of my Classes for 2020 are published with a smattering of brand new exciting titles . . . .
The Still Room - make and take lovely things for your home, your body and your health. We will explore the non-toxic world of making what used to be called - aptly - Simples
Self Preservation - a gallop through a huge variety of of the preserving possibilities with sampling, tasting and some makes to take. This Class also works well as a stage talk so if you are struggling to find an interesting subject for a group of 50+ you may like to consider this.
Dehydrating for the Intrepid Traveller - do you love caravanning, camping, sailing or back packing? Take the weight off your food - eat a more varied diet all without cool boxes or refrigeration
The Summer Glut - just remember the piles of courgettes and tomatoes from last year and resolve to take a different approach this year. There's more to life than Green Tomato Chutney!
Homemade Drinks for Christmas - as exciting as it sounds. You will be amazed at what is possible to make, we'll have tasters and making - and taking of course
Last Minute Gifts for Christmas - truly a last minute life-saver and we will even have fun decorating and wrapping your gifts to take away. Even a Rosie Class would be a great Last Minute Gift for Christmas
All of my other Classes are listed and they are all fully supported with recipe booklets and information, an opportunity to buy hard-to-find ingredients on the day for more making at home, plus a chance to browse the shop with books, jars, bottles and equipment.
All refreshments and a lunch of local produce are included in the price.
than one Class?
use CLASSACT10 at the checkout for reduction
on all classes booked
at the same time
Planning for Success
Now, this title isn't what it seems - I have no answers for business success, especially in these troubled days.
Many of you know that I have been through two years of treatment for breast cancer and have now been in remission for around eighteen months, at the time of writing. Naturally during treatment, there was a lot to cope with and our business bobbled along as best it could - although I did manage to finally write a book, and two recipe books.
The remission period is something else entirely - there are no rules, no handy leaflets, you cope as best you can. I threw myself back into life on every level, often over-extending myself, periods of manic activity usually accompanied by insomnia where my thought processes were whirring non-stop. I often say to people who find being around me full-on if not downright exhausting - 'it's OK for you, you can go home.' I have to listen to me 24/7.
Lots got left as I leapt from one new project to another I think subconsciously I felt that my time was limited and I couldn't bear to waste a second of it. I couldn't settle on things for any length of time though and as a result often fell short of my own impossible standards. There were family commitments, work and teaching, regular gym work to fit in three times a week, physio on my arm, hospital appointments, WI meetings and planning and all of my hobbies. I am making myself feel tired just writing about it all.
The second anniversary of my mastectomy came around on the Winter Solstice on December, 21st 2019. On the first anniversary I was still directly dealing with the physical effects and it passed me by. This time around it hit me hard and I relived those few dark days and nights, almost minute by minute. I found that I had perfect recall and was constantly thinking 'this time two years ago.' I think that it is pretty clear that, until now I just hadn't dealt with it and this was me processing everything and as a result, I am now sailing in calmer waters. Much more ready to say No to things, evaluating - and respecting - my time and how, and on who, I spend it.
The planning comes into this evaluation. Husband Trev suggested that I produced a Planner for me and other preservers, which I did, which also made me think. I am now using it myself and what a godsend it is turning out to be. I have always used, and still like, a Filofax, and I have always made lists, but this is something else. I have all of my classes and teaching engagements where I can see at a glance what I am doing, which stops me getting over committed, the 'bunching' of bookings which mean I get overtired or even worse, I have to cancel.
I can see the seasons, what I could make, what needs to be prepped for classes, what shop stock I need to plan for, shows I am going to, ideas I have, notes that I know I will need later. It is only the first part of January but already I feel much more on top of things and capable - and above all, positive and professional.
I used to think that Planners were for people who just wanted to spend a lot of time organising what they would do but not actually doing anything. All the coloured pens and stickers, lists and hash tags. I was wrong and I apologise for thinking that.
This is what I meant by my title - by planning I am much more likely to achieve my own personal standards and save myself all of that angst and recrimination which will make the whole of my life so much more enjoyable.
This is my first serious blog since my illness, I just got out of the habit but I have really missed it. Hopefully I can now get back to writing regularly and all of those nocturnal ideas and thoughts will get recorded and maybe even put into action. It's feels good to be back
You can own one too: Planner and Recipe Books
It's a Bit Cheesy!
At this time of the year our thoughts turn to the Summer months ahead with holidays, picnics, impromtu lunches outside and all sorts of delights. Unfortunately, these events have to be very last minute as we never know what the weather will bring us, often from hour to hour. You might have a friend call round for coffee and before you know it, it's lunchtime and you feel compelled to extend an offer to share some further refreshments.
At times like this it is very handy to have something delicious that you can fall back on, something tasty but not something that may be rejected on dietary grounds. If you have some oat cakes or crackers, some crusty bread even and a few bits of salad an impressive snack can soon be conjured up if you have this cheese in your cupboard.
It is very easy to make and can be made and eaten fresh, as they do in its homeland, the Middle East. No need to shape just put it into a pretty bowl and top with a swirl of good olive oil and some black pepper. I like to make it to keep and I think you will to. Why not give it a try?
You will need:-
Two big tubs of good quality plain unsweetened yoghurt
A small amount of dried herbs of your choice
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2-3 bay leaves
Good quality olive oil to cover
The first thing to do is to place a jelly bag or a straining cloth of muslin over a large bowl. Empty the yoghurt into the bag/cloth and hang up somewhere overnight to drain.
Pour around 3 cms/1 inch of olive oil into a large jar and carefully place the balls of cheese into the oil using one of your spoons. When you have a layer add more oil so that they don't stick together too much.
Add the coriander and bay leaves as you go. Make sure the last layer is covered with oil.
The cheese will keep for a long time - store it somewhere cool and dark - and you can lift out how many pieces you need for your meal and leave the rest covered in the jar.
When you have finished the jar you can use the oil which will be beautifully flavoured with the herbs, for cooking or salad dressings.
What Price the Regulations?
Since we took on the role with Trading Standards under their Primary Authority Partnership we have been fairly — or more accurately, unfairly — battered by artisans who are upset that we have to advise them of the Law and Regulations. ‘Who are you to tell me what to do’ being the general tone.
Before we invest more of our time in this process would you like to put forward your point of view? We have a meeting with Trading Standards next week and it would be useful to be able to give them some pointers for the future.
It would seem that most people want the Jam & Similar Products ( England ) 2003 to just go away. That is, if they knew about them in the first place. The simple quiz that we ran a few weeks ago generated a pass rate of just 30% with most not even having the most basic knowledge of the requirements of the Law. This doesn’t apply just to producers by the way, most of the individuals involved in the industry seem to have no understanding either.
So having no legislation for artisan production — which we have been told by some is just red tape anyway — means no protection for the consumer. Should it just be buyer beware?
How would you decide whether to put allergens on or not? How would you know what they are? If someone wants to buy marmalade or jams with horseradish, carrot cake, vinegar, milk, laver, anything-you-like, then should it be possible for that to be a thing?
Sugar, no-sugar, some sugar, sweeteners — but we don’t have to tell you how much, or what they are because there are no Regulations. What about durability, storage conditions, labelling requirements, weights and measures?
Let’s assume that this is what everyone wants, then how do we go about achieving it? Who is the ‘someone’ that needs to address it? How are you going to approach the powers that be to convince them that this is the way forward and ‘what everyone wants’?
You — someone — someone with the time to spare away from their business — someone you will need to pay — will probably need to organise you into a representative body, one that can have dialogues with Trading Standards, Environmental Health, Food Standards Agency, Food Information for Consumers, Health & Safety and above all Defra. A body to put forward your views and to be effective in making the artisan production in the United Kingdom the best that it can be. A body that can truly work for you and make significant progress on your behalf.
That’s who we think we are.
Industry Watch on Sugar
Our Industry Watch today concerns Sugar.
Villified and demonised as it is at the present time, ordinary sucrose has been in use since the 6th century and therefore cannot be at the forefront of the massive health issues we have had in the last forty years. It is vital as a food preservative, it is inert, is one of the only foodstuffs on sale with no ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ dating.
We could be self sufficient in sugar production in this island, sugar beet farmers quietly get on with growing their harvest to be refined into the bags of sugar on the shelf by brands like Whitworths and Silver Spoon. This doesn’t mean that Tate & Lyle’s cane sugar is significantly different — it is all sucrose — it just means it hasn’t travelled as far.
Preservers should learn the power of this natural plant-based preservative and ensure that any modifications that they make to time-honoured recipes because ‘people don’t want to eat sugar’ ensures that they are still preserving the ingredients. There is something in me which whispers away that if you take out so much sugar that the product must be refrigerated then you are no longer preserving.
Jams and Similar Products, as per their regulations, are intended for storage at ambient temperature — if those regulations are not adhered to then the product cannot be known as ‘Jam’ or any of the permitted alternatives in the Law.
Let us not lose these ancient skills of being able to control and preserve harvest at ambient temperature — they are more important than you may think.
Right. Very quickly I bring you tidings of great joy this beautiful Spring Day. (Not!)
We have recently received the very welcome news from our supplier that all of our prices are being reduced . . . I know!
So, of course, we are passing that straight onto you. This isn't just a few pence thing - many prices, the majority, have gone done by several £££££s per box. Hard to believe I know, but there we are, miracles do happen.
(Whilst checking all of the prices in our database we did find one or two historical mistakes which means that we have had to adjust to the correct, higher, price but in the main every glass item on the website has fallen in price.)
To add to the fun, all Jarcessorise products are on BOGOFF this weekend up to midnight on Sunday. Whatever you order from these products will be doubled up by us. It won't show on your order but you will receive the correct amount
I am not going to delay you further as I am certain you cannot wait to stampede over to the website to check the prices of you fav jars and bottles.
These prices are not a special offer - they are honest-to-goodness genuine support for our customers