I have been curious about trying my hand at preserving for a little while. Partly this is Kate-of-JAM’s fault, of course, because along with jams and jellies she also does some wicked chutneys. Partly it is being sucked in by the home-made-is-good crowd, and partly the desire to just be good at a lot of things…
It turns out that, of course, my mother-in-law had an old Fowlers Vacola tub from way back when J was a wee thing. I had never heard of Fowlers, but most people I’ve spoken to seem to regard them as an old friend, so we’ll just write that off as resulting from a tropical childhood. You can still buy Fowlers jars and accoutrements, and they Magically Appeared at our door soon after I announced my interest, so I feel compelled to experiment. I started today.
The first thing that J wanted me to do was some fruit, because that’s what he remembered. So I went off to the Preston Market (first time visit – very exciting), and bought peaches (which I thought were apricots shut up what a pain to halve) and white-flesh nectarines. The picture shows that I clearly didn’t fill the bottles well enough; apparently that makes this An Experience and I deserve to be scolded for wanting to be perfect first time ’round. Whatever. I think next time I would cut them a bit smaller so as to be able to pack them a bit better… and who knows, there are probably YouTube vids out there about how best to pack your fruit for preserving… anyway these will be eaten sooner rather than later.
The other thing you can see in the pic is my first attempt at tomato sauce, and yes one of those jars is underfilled and will have to be used ASAP. The recipe is from this new book I got; it’s called Seasoned Tomato Sauce and certainly smells awesome. I no longer (or don’t yet…) have a vegetable garden, so having to buy tomatoes means it’s not quite same, but I’m quite looking forward to using this in bolognese or something similar.
Finally, because I was on a roll and I figured why not, I finally got around to making candied lemon peel. I always feel guilty ditching lemon skins after juicing them, and then I found a recipe in Stephanie for candying them – and you don’t have to use them right away, she’s totally fine with you freezing them until you have enough to make it worthwhile. So this is the peel draining after being boiled a few times to lose the bitterness, and then cooked in heavy sugar syrup for an hour.Yes that’s some burnt bits shut up. These will be rolled in sugar and then jarred in a couple of days when they’re done with draining.
So it was quite an epic day in the end. I had planned on trying my hand at dill pickles but apparently we don’t do pickling cucumbers really in Australia. I’ve done some reading and apparently I can use small ‘normal’ cucumbers, so that may be next week or the week after’s experiment….