I started making chutney and preserves 6-7 years ago, all the ingredients I use are fresh, natural and seasonal. I take pride in practising the artisan methods of yesteryear just like my grandma used to do. Preserving and longevity is close to my heart and my aim is to adopt this ecological awareness and teach others the humble approach of ‘Waste Not, Want Not”. Here is some info about the forgotten art of preserving you might not know.
Preserving food is an important part of our future and the planet
Preserving is an artisan way of life which enabled us to keep our seasons harvest for longer. By using vinegars, sugars, spices and a sterilising technique it’s easy to make food that would otherwise go to waste last longer- Longevity. It was an essential part of life once upon a time before artificial stabilisers were developed to make food last longer. Longevity can be achieved by everyone in their own households, we don’t need to rely on E numbers when we can practice this age old preserving artisan.
How can one easily get started if they’ve never done it before?
It’s super easy, I didn’t start with all the equipment I have now. Start with a basic recipe, the fruit dropping off the tree in your yard, a heavy based large pot (I started with my stockpot) and with at least 3 hours on your hands…
Preserve what is in season, use what is in abundance, the fruit in the backyard or on the city streets. In London there are several plum trees to forage from, Blackberries growing wild, sloes and cherries.Use what is around you, type into google what fruits you have and find a recipe, there’s plenty to be inspired from. If you have an interesting taste combination you think might work, like Pineapple and Cracked Pepper, give it a go.
Preserving should be about sharing ones harvest…
Don’t be afraid, but I recommend starting with a small batch before you venture into anything too grand in case you don’t like what you’ve produced. So even if you have plenty of fruit growing in the back yard that you want to use up make a smaller batch first, if you like it double the recipe (which means longer cooking times) and then share amongst your family and friends.
What does it cost and is it really time consuming?
The cost may vary, dependant on where you get your fruit harvest from. I get some of my fruits imported from Columbia so these are more costly. However if you stay true to the season and use what is around you it will only be a matter of buying sugars and vinegars.
Go to farms and pick your own, forage, use what’s in your backyard, the cost is up to you. Set out a day to make your preserves. I get a lot of people saying to me they’ve tried to make Chutney but it didn’t work. Theres a lot of chopping to do and stirring a bubbling splitting pot, nurse this pot until it’s texture changes and it starts to congeal, you haven’t put too much vinegar in if it’s in the recipe, you just haven’t stood and stirred for long enough. Jams are quicker, not as much prep involved but harder to judge the setting points, this is something that you learn in time so be patient. Jam can always be decanted and fixed.