This week I have been in the kitchen making my very own stash of preserves ready for the winter. But I’m not only making them for my family’s table, I am also making a few jars to give to my foodie friends as gifts! I’ve had a huge harvest of apples on my tree this year and have been thinking up ways to use them – after stewing and making into pies, I was quickly running out of ideas! But my thoughts soon turned to preserving them and I wanted to share the recipes I used to turn my sack of apples into beer chutney (great with cheese for Christmas!) and apple and blackberry jam.
Beer Chutney ingredients: 4 cups chopped apples (cored and peeled), 1 cup raisins, 1/2 cup white sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 cups diced onions, 1 cup beer, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 cup brown vinegar.
Combine all the ingredients in a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until all the ingredients are softened. Prepare some jars to put the chutney in by cleaning them in the dishwasher or washing by hand with hot soapy water and giving a final rinse with boiling hot water to sterilize them. Pour the slightly cooled chutney into the jars and seal immediately with lids. Leave to cool and later label them with a handmade tag to tell your friends what a delicious treat is inside and wrap for Christmas!
Apple and Blackberry Jam Ingredients: 1 pound blackberries, 1 pound chopped apples (cored and peeled), 4 cups white sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 lemon juice.
Combine all the ingredients in a large pan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the fruit has softened and the mixture has thickened. To test whether the mixture has become a jam, put a plate in the freezer and when you’re ready to test the mixture, drop a teaspoon of the jam onto the cold plate and leave for 30 seconds. Push your finger through the jam blob and if the surface of the jam wrinkles, it is ready and will set. If it doesn’t wrinkle, carry on simmering the mixture and test at 5 minute intervals until the wrinkling is achieved. Prepare your jars in the same way as for the chutney recipe above and allow the jam to cool slightly (to be safe) before pouring into the jars and allowing to set.
I hope you enjoy eating your preserves over the festive period and be sure to give a few jars away to your food-fan friends and family, who will really appreciate a home-made foodie gift!