A LOTTA BOTTLE . . . .
Apologies for the vernacular but any of you in the UK who watch Strictly will know that Len Goodman is famous for saying 'I'll pickle me walnuts!'
I have a lot of eggs at the moment as all four hens are now laying regularly so 28 per week is a lot for me and Trev. Poor old Dolly is trying to keep up with the youngsters but looks very pleased with herself at the moment - here she is in her very own little ray of sunshine. (It's pouring while I am writing this!)
I am using the * 1 litre Le Parfait clip top jars today so I took off the rubber rings and put them into a heatproof jug. I poured boiling water over them and placed the washed jars into a warm oven, around 50 degrees to sterilise them.
* This type of jar is on special offer at the moment so very good value.
So, I had 24 eggs which I hard boiled - put them into cold water, brought them to a gentle boil in my big pan and then cooked for 15 minutes. I had a bowl of cold water ready in the sink and used a slotted spoon to lift them out of the hot water, and then drop carefully into the cold water. This helps to stop a black ring forming around the yolk of the egg.
Once the eggs are cold you will need to peel them - carefully - try to leave the egg intact if possible. Don't use the super freshest eggs for pickling as they will be very difficult to peel. The eggshells can be crushed and used around delicate plants in the garden to keep slugs and snails away. Rinse the eggs under running water to get rid of any bits of shell and drain thoroughly.
Put around 2 litres of white wine vinegar or distilled malt vinegar into a pan with either a couple of tablespoons of pickling spice or 5/6 dried Bird's Eye chillies. Gently heat together until hot but not boiling and keep over a low heat until needed. Take the jars from the oven, drain the rubber rings and pat dry on kitchen paper. Fit back onto the jar lids. Loosely pack the eggs in the jars leaving plenty of head space. Pour the hot vinegar over, through a jam funnel to prevent splashes, together with a few of the spices - whichever you have chosen to use.
Make sure that all of the eggs are covered by the vinegar and totally submerged. Clip down the tops securely. Store somewhere out of direct light and keep for approximately 2 weeks to mature.Enjoy!
LET'S BOTTLE IT!
If you have lots of lovely rhubarb this year why not think of bottling some of it? It would make a great crumble later in the year or if you mix in some oranges you need less sugar - and that is lovely for breakfast on ot's own or with yoghurt.
The reason I am telling you this now is that our lovely Le Parfait screw top jars have come down in price - a lot! This is the perfect size and shape and they are extremely tough. The screw bands and the seals are readily available as well so no problem with getting spares. Unlike the generic Kilner, these jars are made the same as always, they are tough, and practical. They also have one third more glass by weight than their nearest competitor. Take a look, maybe stock up ready for other things later in the year - gooseberries or tomatoes maybe.
Take a look back at one of my blogs on bottling which will give you some help.
TV company Pi Productions is casting for a brand new documentary series for a national broadcaster that follows people as they relocate for a major lifestyle and career change.
We are looking for families or couples who are planning to ditch the 9 to 5 to pursue a career in something they are passionate about. You could be relocating to run a restaurant, setting up a café or deli selling your very own range of jams and preserves, or it could be taking the reins of a countryside farm shop. We’re also very keen to hear from budding food producers who could be, for example, making their speciality products from home and selling at markets or festivals. We want to showcase the amazing lifestyle business opportunities out there and show what it takes to make a new business a success.
Artisan food is hugely aspirational right now, and we would love to capture the story of an exciting new food business in our series.
We are keen to feature positive and aspirational stories. This is a brilliant opportunity for “life changers” to feature themselves and their new venture on a prime time documentary, and inspire other people in the process.
We are looking for people who are embarking on their journey this Spring or Summer.
If this sounds like you, or if you would like to recommend someone you know, then we’d love to hear from you.
Interested parties can email the casting team on email@example.com or give us a call on 0203 761 4522. There is no pressure to take part at the initial enquiry stage.
Pi Productions is a TV company run by John Silver, who created Grand Designs and reinvented MasterChef. Please have a look at our website for more information about us: http://piproductions.tv/. You can also follow us on Twitter: @PiProdCasting.
TAKING THE PROFESSIONAL WAY
Today there were five fledgling business owners joining me for a Professional Day's Training at my base in Rutland. These were five individuals who were all hoping to take their big hobby - making preserves - to the next level by becoming Artisan Producers.
They were all completely different, as you would expect, but shared the same passion for good food and preserves in particular. At the start of the day we discussed briefly what it was that gets us hooked into preserving, what is it that drives us on. The older ones of us had nostalgia woven into the mix but we looked on knowingly as Nicola, the youngest there today, talked of her ambitions and her eyes shone brighter and brighter. 'There's no hope for you - your hooked!' we all said but she wasn't protesting.
This is not a practical, making day, it's a day for paperwork and regulations and labeling laws and the like, and it is fair to say that my students were unaware of most of what they needed to know. They weren't daunted though and were busy scribbling notes in their course programme and asked intelligent questions, which is always helpful.
We covered the requirements of Trading Standards and Environmental Health, went through labeling with a fine toothed comb. We covered insurance and best practice, the Jam & Similar Products Regulations (England) 2003.I was also able to enrol the first five businesses into the new scheme being launched by The Guild of Jam & Preserve Makers - the Quality Assurance Initiative. We have launched this through The Guild to uphold the high standards of the artisan preserve community to help the general public identify which are quality hand made products. This will be rolled out in June in time for the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC and my five businesses today have agreed to trial to report back on reaction from customers.
We will be refining the details of the Quality Assurance Initiative over the next few months and also looking a series of webinars to present the Professional Training on-line.
Who's Keeping Record?
A friend of mine gave me your contact details.
I know I am not a jam maker, but wondered whether you could help with this question. As a cake maker do I have to have complete traceability of my ingredients in the products I sell, that are not packaged i.e slices of cakes etc sold at a local shop and markets.
Hi Dawn – thanks for the contact.
I don’t know for sure, as regards the Law. Thinking back to my Country Market days, I don’t think that it has to be displayed – you don’t see it in other tea rooms for instance.
However, there are reasons for all of these regulations – as jam makers we have to keep batch records, the jars are marked with the batch number, the record book lists the source of the recipe, plus the suppliers of the key ingredients. Bear in mind that jam isn’t considered a risk product.
If someone – or several people – report being ill after eating something then Trading Standards have to try and find out why. They will go to the retailer first, who will turn to you, and you need to be able to turn to your supplier etc so that each area can be looked at for the problem. This needs to be done as fast as possible to prevent it happening again, and makes perfect sense.
With things like this you need to put yourself in the place of the customer. If it was you, and/or your children that were made ill by a product you would want something done about it. Keeping batch records doesn’t make much extra work and then you can sleep easily at night – except for all of the other problems you have running a business!
I hope that is helpful
f: Rosie Makes Jam
Right then. Spring Cleaning. Now the marmalade making is out of the way, you might be trying to tidy and freshen up your surroundings now that a weak and watery sun is starting to show up the dust! I blogged this earlier in the year but I think it is worth a repeat.I have been experimenting with making my own cleaning items just as medieval housewives did in the Still Room. I saw a programme the other day about the toxic cleaning chemicals that we regularly use without even thinking about it.
I have made Citrus Spray Cleaner, a Citrus Beeswax Furniture Polish and I also have the recipe for the cleaner I use on my hard floors. These are all very easy to do and only have natural ingredients. The Citrus Spray cleans glass and mirrors beautifully with no streaky residue. Spray on, wipe off with kitchen paper or a soft cloth.
The furniture polish is great fun to make and you can ring the changes - instead of citrus try adding essential oils instead - lavender, bergamot, or use fresh herbs instead of the citrus peel.
The floor cleaner works like magic - cleans easily and then dries to a non-sticky gentle sheen with no build-up.
Try them out - I would love to know what you think. I shall be making more things like this during the year and will keep you posted. I am going to sell them in The Old Smithy as well, it is all preserving, after all.
We have great jars for the polish and the spray bottles for the window/glass cleaner.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The still room is a distillery room found in most great houses, castles or large establishments throughout Europe dating back at least to medieval times. Medicines were prepared, cosmetics and many home cleaning products created, and home-brewed beer or wine was often made. Herbs and flowers from the kitchen garden and surrounding countryside were preserved for flavoring food and processed into what today we call essential oils, and infused or distilled, or brewed (etc.) as required to make rose water, lavender water, tinctures, peppermint-based ointments, soaps, furniture polishes and a wide variety of medicines. The still room was a working room: part science lab, part infirmary and part kitchen.
Originally, the still room was a very important part of the household. The lady of the house was in charge of the room, and she taught her daughters and wards some of the skills needed to run their own homes in order to make them more marriageable. As practical skills fell out fashion for high-born women, the still room became the province of poor dependent relations.
In later years, as physicians and apothecaries became more widely spread and the products of the still room became commercially available, the still room increasingly became an adjunct of the kitchen. The use of the still room devolved to making only jams, jellies, and home-brewed beverages, and it became a store room for perishables such as cakes. The still room was staffed by the housekeeper or cook, then later by the still room maid.
TOP TIP: Always keep some citrus peel soaking in distilled malt vinegar - great for salad dressings and using making mustards etc.Always handy to have by you and uses an otherwise waste product (lemon or orange peel)
For floor cleaner:- use a good splash of malt vinegar, a squirt of washing up liquid and a generous shake of bicarbonate of soda or baking powder in a bucket. Add hot water and swirl around with your mop to combine. Wash over the floor, leave to dry
Ever since we had to let the Butler go at Jam Jar Towers I have had to clean my own silver. I didn't realise that life would be so tough. However, thinking back to the things my Granny taught me - who used to be in service in a Big House, I remembered her time saving tip. We have friends coming for dinner this evening so this was the ideal time to clean the silver and snap it for you to see how easy it is.
1. tarnished silver
2. two pieces tin foil
3. scrunch up loosely and put into a bucket/plastic bowl
4. add about 2 tablespoons salt
5. place silver on the foil touching the surface as much as possible
6. add boiling water - add another kettle- full to cover the silver
7. leave for 2-5 mins then lift our carefully with tongs
8. rinse and polish with a soft cloth
Et voila! No nasty chemical polishes on utensils intended to be in contact with food - no nasty blackened fingers or residual smell of polish.