Preserving speaks of self-sufficiency and the art of capturing the essence of summer’s bounty in shiny glass bottles. For me, there’s something both comforting and nostalgic about conserving fragrantly ripe summer fruits to eat in the colder winter months, if not sooner. While this practice might seem rather old fashioned, the reward of a windowsill lined with tubby-jarred homemade preserves, is truly satisfying. In one corner of my kitchen, the late afternoon sun bounces golden beams of light through fruited chutneys and jams, the tangy contents almost beckoning for hot buttered toast.
Besides the obvious reward of stocking the larder, preserves are the ultimate get-ahead edible gift. This year I’m cooking up batches of tangy Sweet chilli tomato jam and my new personal favourite, a Spicy fig and plum Chutney. Paired with a wedges of soft gorgonzola and a deeply nutty mature cheddar, this cheese board is blissful casual summer entertaining at its best.
The chutney is a sumptuous mix of sweet figs, dates, fresh plums and tart cranberries. Bursting with a symphony of festive flavours, it’s sure to enliven any cheese board. It’s particularly good slathered (meaning lots of!), onto sourdough bread with succulent slices of turkey or cold meats. As for the Sweet chilli tomato jam, there are very few places that I wouldn’t add heaping spoonful’s of this spicy relish – creamy scrambled eggs, a juicy beef burger, sweet chilli chicken wraps and so the list goes on…. It’s quite magnificent with cream cheese and savoury wafer biscuits. Limitless possibilities, I tell you and very addictive.
The secret to making really great jams and chutneys boils down to several key factors. Best seasonally ripe fruit for jams and balance between acid (vinegar), savoury and sweetness for chutneys. As always, I have my sterling range of truly unrefined sugars on hand from Natura Sugars. The natural caramely taste of these molasses-rich sugars adds wonderful depth of flavour, particularly when making jams and preserves. Although it might seem a little daunting at first, I’ve simplified the methods to completely doable and easy. Even little hands can get involved in this holiday gifting project. I hope these recipes will inspire you to haul out your granny’s old cast iron pot and get the fruit sputtering merrily away to one of life’s simplest pleasures – preserving.
For a host of creative ideas of how to serve jams, jellies and preserves, Feedfeed/JamJellies have put gathered up the best bottles of deliciousness. Savoury or sweet, they’ve got you covered.
Sweet chilli tomato Jam and spicy fig and plum chutney
- 500g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 200g rosa tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
- 140g (3/4 cup) Natura Soft Light Brown Sugar
- 125ml (1/2 cup) red wine vinegar
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Spicy fig and plum chutney
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 shallot or small brown onion, finely diced
- 5ml (1 teaspoon ) brown mustard seeds
- 10ml (2 teaspoons) ground coriander
- 15ml (1 tablespoon) freshly grated ginger
- 125g (1 cup) soft dried figs, finely chopped
- 3 preserved figs, roughly chopped (in sugar syrup)
- 35g (1/4 cup) raisins
- 35g (1/4 cup) dried cranberries
- 5 fresh plums, stones removed and finely sliced
- 3 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- 50g (1/4 cup) Natura Dark Muscovado Sugar
- 180ml (3/4 cup) apple cider vinegar
- 375ml (1 ½ cups water)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- To make the sweet chilli tomato jam, place the tomatoes, ginger and fresh chilli in a food processor and blitz until the tomatoes are broken down.
- Pour the tomato puree into a saucepan and add the remaining ingredients.
- Bring up to the boil, stirring all the while. Boil on a medium-high heat for about 40-45 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent burning on the base. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. The consistency should be jammy and sticky but still slightly loose.
- Pour the hot chilli jam into sterilized bottles and seal with a tight fitting lid.
Spicy fig Jam
- For the spicy fig and plum chutney, start by heating the oil and sauté the shallot until softened. Add the mustard seeds, coriander and grated ginger. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Add all the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture up to the boil over a medium high heat, stirring all the while.
- Turn the heat down slightly, cover partially with a lid and simmer for 40-45 minutes. Stir the chutney from time to time to ensure the base doesn’t catch. The chutney should be sticky and relatively thick.
- Spoon into hot sterilized jars and seal immediately.