Yesterday, I learnt something absolutely, 100% new. Carrying on with my handmade, homespun christmas presents, I thought I would do some preserving. Now, this isn’t the first time my mind turned to wanting to learn the ways of canning, jam making, preserving and such, but this time I had some strong motivators. 1. A delicious looking recipe for caramelised onion and rosemary chutney (they had me at caramelised – yum!) and nearly two kilos of week-old and a little over-ripe strawberries from our local strawberry farm. I could stomach the thought of wasting something that someone had invested so much time and energy to grow.
Without much of a plan I headed to the supermarket and bought a dozen beautiful glass jars that looked like windows in old and grand houses.
It it was only after I had the jars and ingredients that I thought just perhaps, I should research how to do the preserving and water canning method………after YouTube tutorials, web browsing and asking my mum, I realised that I did not have any of the paraphernalia that seasoned canners use to make life easier (I didn’t have a really deep pot, metal ladle, jam funnell, or little magnetic sticky thing to pick up lids) but I decided between my pasta pot, metal serving spoon and pre-wine steady hand to aim jam/chutney into jar, I would wing it.
The process was interesting……but by enlisting the husband we made it and made twelve jars of properly preserved and super-delicious presents for people we like a lot.
Gosh, I really feel like I accomplished something and think I will probably, most likely doing it again soon (think spiced cherry jam – ’tis the season after all)
Here are the recipes I used –
Caramelised onion and rosemary chutney (I varied the recipe in the current Australian Better Homes and Garden magazine)
1/4 cup olive oil
1.5 kg onions – sliced into thin half moons
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup balsamic vinegar (or 1/4 cup balsamic and 3/4 cup white wine vinegar)
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 stalks fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
1 cinnamon stick
3 tsp sea salt
Black pepper for seasoning
How To –
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add onion and cook for approximately 20 minutes until soft and golden.
2. Add sugar, vinegar, water, sultanas, cranberries, rosemary, cinnamon, cloves and seasoning. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour and fifteen minutes. Ladle into sterilised jars and seal. Boil for 10-15 minutes using water canning methods.
4. Store in a cool place for up to 6 months. Once opened, keep chilled and use within 1 month. Makes six 8oz jars worth.
Strawberry (farm) Jam
1 kg ripe strawberries, crushed
1 kg jam sugar
10gr knob of butter
How To –
1. Place strawberries and sugar in deep saucepan.
2. Heat over a low heat until sugar has dissolved. Do not let it boil yet.
3. Add knob of butter and increase heat to a rolling boil (a boil that you can’t stir down).
4. Boil for 4 minutes only. Remove from heat, skim off foam and test for set (put a spoon full on a cold plate, push finger gently into it and check that the surface wrinkles – put it back on the heat if it’s not there yet).
5. Ladle into sterilised jars and boil for 10 – 15 minutes using water canning methods.
6. Store for up to 6 months in a cool place. Once opened, keep chilled and use within 1 month. Makes six 8oz jars worth.
If you are old hat at preserving, this newbie would love to hear your tips, fail-safe methods and recipes. xo