Chutneys and Jams are an easy way to preserve fruit and vegetables at home. They are probably the most popular form of food preserving around and I suspect that it is because it is easy to do, taste great and keep well in the store cupboard.
Similar to bottling, making Pickles, chutney and jam involves putting yummy ingredients in a sealed container. The main difference is that
- Pickles tend to be raw vegetables, are salted and stored in vinegars which may or may not be spiced. Eggs are not salted but are cooked first and then stored in vinegar. Pickled vegetables should be crisp as they are not cooked and go very well with hot pies and stews, they are equally nice with cold meat and salads or in a sandwich. In fact pickles are a good all rounder.
- Chutneys tend to be a combination of cooked fruit and vegetables, the ingredients are cooked in vinegar with sugar and spices. Chutney has a thick consistency and goes very well with cooked meat, hot or cold, and cheese. It also makes an excellent sandwich
- Jams are made of one or more fruit, cooked with sugar untill they form a set. Once bottled, jam has a solid consistency and should be easy to spread. Jam is normally served as a sweet or as part of a dessert with cakes, pastries and scones. A jam sandwich is a real treat for most children but I like my jam best on hot buttered toast. note
- Conserves are very similar to jam but the fruit is sugared and left overnight to draw the juice out. Once cooked the fruit should still be somwhere near to whole and evenly spaced in a jelly which comprises the juice and sugar
- Jellies are made in the same way as jam but the fruit is sievedto remove the bits of skin a pips before the resulting jelly is bottled
My earliest jam memories involved making bramble jam in my mothers kitchen. Blackberries being a free ingredient of the hedgrow they were easy to come by in the early autumn and picking them was a family affair that I have fond memories of. Once I started growing my own fruit I started making my own jam. Of all the jams I have tried Raspberry is my all time favourite and for me is the easiest to get right. Fortunately we have a local pick your own so I am able to pick enough raspberries to supply us in jam for the year. i don't care what anyone says home made jam is by far the best.
My earliets chutney memories are not as pleasant! I can still remember the smell of vinegar in the house as my mum made green tomato chutney. Now there is nothing wrong with green tomato chutney but as a child tomatoes were low on my list of likes. Combine the unripe version with the smell of hot vinegar and I was not going to go there. Fortunately I have learnt the error of my ways and have tried some marvelous chutneys at various craft fairs and markets which has led to a complete turnaround in my chutney eating ways. As a direct result of being involved in the local show I have branched out and had a go at making my own chutneys, but I still can't face green tomato chutney.
My earliest pickle memories are of pickled cucumbers sliced and served in a well known burger brand. The experience was not a good one. However I also discovered pickled onions at around the same time and these I love. My favourite being pickled with a good slug of Worcester Sauce in the vinegar. If you are not quick however pickled vegetables will go soft once the jar is opened so I recommend making pickles and storing them in smaller quantities, if you are not good at getting through a 2lb jar in a week.
Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy having a go and eating what you make. If you want to show off put an entry in your local show - you may get a prize!