Wednesday, 22 August 2012

I feel pretty, oh so pretty... Preserving

Over the last couple of weeks when we've been going along in the car, I've not paid M a great deal of attention (sorry). My eyes have been trained on trees and hedgerows looking for a glimpse of the bounty late summer and early autumn brings the keen and nifty cook.

The blackberries are nearly there, those that have benefitted from the (occasional) sunshine already turning glossy and purple, those in more shady spots just hitting a glorious rose. I dragged M out this afternoon and between us we managed to pick 2lb or so of beautifully ripe blackberries - I have earmarked half of this for apple and blackberry jelly (one of M's mum's recipes) but the other half is destined for more alcohol. 

I haven't seen either elderberries or sloes yet but they are normally Autumn's later gifts.

As you know whilst my patience with dough and children is legendary, my patience for my need to preserve less so. It was with (a swiftly stifled) squeal of delight on Friday evening that I noticed that Sainsburys had marked down three punnets of blackcurrants and two of blackberries. I gazed around me, sizing up the other shoppers, trying to decide if there might be any competition, and then swooped in, scooping up the punnets into my trolley and heading off in search of the Basics rum. Apparently Sainsburys don't do Basics rum, so I got the next one up the ladder.

I followed the recipe I used a couple of years back where you start by making and straining a berry juice, and then add spices and alcohol, leaving it to mature briefly before boiling up with sugar and bottling. Previously I did this with redcurrants and you can see in the photos in the original post the pretty pink colour of the end result. Unsurprisingly doing this with blackberries and blackcurrants produces a stunningly dark and glossy liquer. The vodka and this rum are all destined to be gifts 

I wanted to write this post despite the recipes not being new ones, and the photos all being on Instagram already to remind you just how easy preserving is and how fabulous the results can be. You don't need a sugar thermometer, jam sugar, a maslin pan, or even a jam spoon - I start with my Ikea 365 pan, a long handled wooden spoon and a saucer in the freezer. That's it. I don't even buy jam jars, I save all ours, and ask Guide parents to donate any they have. Sterilised with boiling water and in a low oven, you're good to go. Also, my jellies (and alcohol is all strained through an old pillowcase in a seive. Yes, the picture below is an old pillowcase. 

If you're west of me, you may still be able to get some strawberries at your local PYO so why not have a go at strawberry jam (see the idiots guide on that post)

Otherwise, go, forage (or buy heavily reduced) blackberries and have a go at vodka, rum or jam. I'll put my recipe for blackberry and apple jelly up as soon as I've done it. 

For all my preserving exploits - click here and you'll be able to scroll through and pick the ones that appeal to you. 

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