One of the things about growing your own is that inevitably you have periods of glut where you more produce than you simply know what to do with. The River Cottage Preserves Handbook should give you plenty of ideas for what to do with all that excess produce. Not just jams and chutneys here, but also cordials, bottled fruits, sauces and ketchups. All in all a huge array of bottled goodies to enjoy. And of course the beauty with these is that they all have a long shelf live so you make the maximum use of what you have grown (or indeed bought at your local supermarket).
One of the great things about this book is that no prior knowledge is assumed, so if you are completely clueless (like I was prior to buying this book) you are not left wondering how to do the basics. There is one chapter titled simply “The Rules” which tells you all you need to know about sterilising and sealing jars, how to store your preserves and what are the main preserving ingredients. All vital information if you are going to be successful at making preserves.
The chapter on jam and jellies includes classic recipes such as rhubarb jam (a particular favourite in our house) and redcurrant jelly as well as more unusual recipes such as fruit leathers and quince cheese. The chapter on pickles, chutneys and relishes is my favourite which lots of great ideas, from the traditional and familiar (pickled onions and piccalilli) to the more unusual (nasturtium capers, chilli pepper jelly). The onion marmalade is one of favourites.
For your excess fruit you have chapters on cordials, fruit liqueurs and vinegars, and on bottled fruit. I was hoping to try some of these this year, but our poor fruit crop has put paid to that idea, so maybe next year. One I have tried from this chapter is roasted tomato passata which is truly fantastic.
Finally there a chapter on sauces, ketchups and oil-based preserves. More great ideas here. Ever wondered what to do with elderberries? Well bring on pontack (elderberry) sauce. The slow-roasted tomatoes in oil are a cheaper alternative to sun-dried tomatoes, except that they taste even better!
With many of the recipes that are several alternative options to try giving you a huge range of preserves at your disposal. All the recipes are written in clear simple language that beginners (like me) can follow. Several of the recipes are suitable for foragers as well as people who grow their own.
This is a great book for beginners and for more seasoned preservers and one that I highly recommend whether you finding new things to make with your excess produce or you simply want to try your hand at preserving.