25 February 2012

Competition & jamming around with preserves

For me there's something therapeutic about cooking seasonal goodies and preserving them in jars. I revel in the process of selecting the tastiest looking fruit or vegetables and then knowing I get to spend several hours in my kitchen concentrating purely on sterilising, chopping, stirring, testing, stirring some more and finally bottling.

Wonderful fresh produce from Brisbane CBD Jan Power's
Farmers Markets. Olives kindly supplied from Liz's Olives
and the meat from my friends at Rangeland Quality Meats.

In our busy, fast paced world I find preserving food is a rare treat in down time. And, of course, it's an awesome skill to have. I'm not the only one who thinks it's a fantastic skill. I've recently come across an incredible project called Dirty Girl Kitchen. The founder, Rebecca Sullivan, is ensuring all those fabulous skills our grandparents had in preserving everything, is not lost.

Another reason I love making jars of goodness, is that they make brilliant presents. These jams pictured my beloved and I gave as gifts at our wedding last year.

Portuguese pumpkin jam

Each guest received either Portuguese pumpkin jam (it's not as scary as it sounds), pear chutney or spiced apple jelly.

You can see the little gifts of preserves on the
wedding tables.

It would be unfair to talk about all this gift giving if I didn't have a couple of scrummy jars of jam and chutney from my recent bottling session aside for a lucky reader. All you need to do is leave a comment below or email me at theselfraisingkitchen@gmail.com and tell me what your favourite childhood treat was; mine was my Nana's baked cheesecake, YUM! I'll pick the winner next Friday, 2 March and you will receive a bottle each of peach jam and pear chutney. 

Peach Jam
by Maggie Beer  

Maggie Beer's peach jam
1 1/2 kg peaches
750g sugar
Peel of one lemon
Juice of two lemons
2 tbsp Amaretto (I used Frangellico)

Chopped up peaches

Cut peaches into chunks, leaving skins on (this adds colour) and take out the stones. Use really ripe fruit for the flavour, but also some less ripe ones as these have a higher level of pectin (which you need to set the jam). Don’t keep the peaches in the fridge, as this also will reduce the pectin levels.

Put the cut peaches into a pot and simmer at a very low heat, adding lemon peel to add the tart taste and also to increase the levels of pectin.

Tie some of the stones in to a clean chux and add the bundle to the peaches continuing to simmer and stir every now and then to prevent burning the bottom of the saucepan. (SRKitchen tip - I just placed some stones directly in with the peaches.)

Once the fruit seems cooked take the stones out -- SRKitchen tip: I used a hand blender at this point so there weren't chunks of skin in the jam -- and stir in the sugar, adding lemon juice to check the flavour.

Cook until the jam begins to thicken. To see if it is ready test by taking a spoonful and put onto a saucer to see if it sets in the fridge. (SRKitchen tip - I place a saucer in the freezer while still cooking the jam. I then test the jam by putting a small amount on the cold saucer and leaving it for a few minutes. When you push the jam with your finger, if you get wrinkles in the jam it is ready for bottling.)

Just before pouring into the jars add Amaretto/Frangellico. Maggie doesn’t sterilise the jars, but you must use clean jars, fill them to the top and then invert them so that the hot jam sits on the lid and so all sides of the jar are ‘sterilised’ by the hot jam. (SRKitchen tip - I do still sterilise them in the oven. Simply place your clean jars and lids in a cold oven, heat it to 120 degrees celsius and leave for about 30 minutes.)

Once you have opened the jar, refrigerate the jam until the pot is finished.

Pear Chutney
by Jenny Disney from the Country Women's Association

Pear chutney bottled

2kg firm pears
2 large brown onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small, fresh hot chilli, chopped, seeds as well
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp salt
5 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into strips (I grated the ginger)
1 cup sultanas
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
3.5 cups cider vinegar
4 cups brown sugar

Pear chutney ingredients just starting to cook

Peel the pears and chop into small pieces about the size of a sultana and put in saucepan with all the remaining ingredients except the sugar. Heat slowly and stir gently until the pears have begun to soften.

Add sugar to the pan, stir until it has dissolved and continue cooking until chutney is dark, glossy brown and thick (20 - 35 minutes).

Sugar's been added, almost ready for bottling

Put chutney into hot sterilised jars and seal.

Wait at least 3 weeks before using so the flavours can mature.

Store in a cool, dark cupboard. keeps for at least 12 months.

SRKitchen Tip
To get your jam or chutney into the bottles, chop the bottom off a funnel so chunks can get through.

My very cheap, chopped up funnel
for preserve making

Tweet me @SRKitchen
Friend me @ www.facebook.com/TSRKitchen


  1. Bonbonnaire Jam...great idea! Competition jam also a great idea :)

  2. my Grandmother used to make asparagus pies, just tinned asparagus in little ramekins with a bit of white sauce and cheese on top - a huge family fave which my mum still makes for me now, although sometimes we now do use 'real' asparagus!

  3. Rockmelon and watermelon my grandfather grew in his garden.

    Nice to discover another Brisbane blog.

  4. My mum was a fabulous cook, but her speciality was early 80s cocktail party finger food. She threw 'do's for my dad's business associates almost every weekend, so on Mondays, my lunch was usually a mystery box of canap├ęs... Mini quiches (noice), frilly toothpicks skewered with coloured pickled onions, olives and cheese cubes (different) and on more than one occasion, a tin of smoked oysters accompanied by a tiny cocktail fork (unusual). My friends would gather round for the big reveal, but didn't usually want to swap (even mini quiches were a bit too foreign for our small town). But I loved it!

  5. My Dutch grandmother used to make these delicious croquettes. I took then for granted until I was on a Contiki tour and everyone tried them when we visited Amsterdam. They loved them and I was very proud to let everyone know that croquettes were something I regularly enjoyed. Anita

  6. I love these comments. Thank you so much, everyone for participating.

    Isn't it fantastic what we remember about our childhoods and the things that mean so much…even when they are tinned asparagus, Bree :-)

    I've had a few other beautiful comments on email, too, so hopefully I'll get their permission to publish them.

  7. Wow these look amazing and they look like they taste so good. I'm drooling. Too bad I'm just now seeing this post. However, at least I have the recipes to try. I just started making jams over the summer and haven't done much of it either. These will be fun to try. Thanks for sharing and too bad I missed the giveaway, I would have loved to try yours. I guess I'll just have to make them myself.