Tag Archives: preservation

Rhubarb Jam and Lovage Wine

We had a productive weekend; as well as finishing the chicks’ new, bigger, pen, we also had time to rack off our latest batch of Turbocider, make jam, and set another demijohn of wine going. Both the jam and the wine were made from largely free ingredients.

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

I love Rhubarb and Ginger Jam; it was a particular favourite of my Mum’s. I remember going on a shopping trip to Reading with her when I was about 10, and the only thing we came back with was a large jar of the said preserve – but she didn’t feel that the trip had been wasted! The rhubarb I used was growing in the front garden border of my Dad’s bungalow; there are a mass of rhubarb plants there producing lots of good thick stems. I acquired 1.8Kg of stems last week, we had a jar of crystallised ginger in the cupboard and plenty of sugar, so I dug out a recipe from Maggie Mayhew’s Jams Jellies & Marmalades and set to work.


1Kg  rhubarb cut into short lengths

1kg  sugar

25g  fresh root ginger, bruised

115g crystallised ginger cut into small pieces

50g  candied orange peel


1. put the rhubarb chunks in a glass bowl layered with all of the sugar and leave overnight (this really brings out the juice in the fruit)

2. next day, scrape the fruit and sugar into a preserving pan, tie the bruised ginger root in a muslin bag and hang in the fruit in the pan

3. cook gently for 30 minutes, or until the fruit has softened

4.put jars and lids in the oven at about 100C to sterilise them

5. remove the root ginger from the pan, and add the orange peel and crystallised ginger to the rhubarb

6. bring the mixture to the boil and cook over a high heat until setting point is reached (I use a plate pre-cooled in the freezer, drop a little of the jam onto the plate and see if, after a minute or two, the jam stops moving on the plate; if it doesn’t, cook the mixture for a little longer and retest)

7. one setting point has been reached, fill the sterilised jars with jam (I find a jam funnel is a good investment, save blobs of jam all over your work surface!)

8. leave to cool and then enjoy on toast, as a sauce over cake, even as a cake filling

Lovage Wine

Lovage is a beautiful, stately plant, but can easily get out of hand if it is happy in its position. I grew mine from seed some years ago, it was ridiculously easy and before long I was thrusting my many spare plants on neighbours and friends. The three plants I kept for myself went into the herb border. The warm April combined with a bit of rain made the plants shoot up from nothing to over six feet in less than a month. That is a lot of herb to try to use up, and I needed a recipe that would require a lot of lovage, so I thought of wine. Coming by a recipe for the said wine, however, was not easy. There are some lovely food recipes on Old Fashioned Living but they use only minuscule amounts. I came across the suggestion that lovage could be used as a substitute for parsley in a Parsley Wine recipe, so out came CJJ Berry’s First Steps in Winemaking and there was a suitable recipe.


500g fresh lovage leaves (stems are OK too in moderation)

1.75Kg sugar

2 oranges, thinly peeled and juiced

2 lemons, thinly peeled and juiced

1 tsp grape tannin (for its preserving qualities)

4.5 litres water

packet of yeast

1 tsp yeast nutrient (I used a champagne yeast but any white wine yeast will do)


1. boil lovage with the orange and lemon peal in all of the water for 20 minutes

2. put the sugar into a large bowl and strain the lovage water over the sugar, stirring well to dissolve the sugar

3. when lukewarm add the citrus juices, grape tannin, nutrient and yeast, stir and cover

4. leave to stand for 24 hours, then pour into a demijohn and insert an airlock

5. leave in a warm place until fermentation has finished and the wine has cleared

6. rack off into bottles and leave for a few months before (hopefully) enjoying!

I will let you know in six months or so how it turns out!



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The Orchard

I’m not holding my breath for a huge crop of apples, but at least we have made a start. In 2009 we planted four trees: an eating apple (Winston), a dual purpose (Howgate Wonder – good for Yorkshire), a crab apple (John Downie) and a plum (Marjorie’s Seedling). The first summer, we had four crab apples and plenty of blossom on the others just no fruit. The second summer, very little blossom after a poor Spring and only one crab apple. In truth, I am a little disheartened. I know we live on a windy hillside in one of the cooler parts of the country, but I chose the varieties carefully, read extensively on apples and plums and ordered from very reputable nurseries, then planted them in the most sheltered south-facing part of the garden. Perhaps we were just unlucky with the weather last year that destroyed the blossom; perhaps it was too wet/dry at critical times; perhaps there were too few bees to pollinate the meagre blossom that survived the spring winds. This year, I have my fingers crossed as the Spring has been benign and the blossom buds plentiful.

But I am not giving up yet. We have just planted four more apple trees. In recognition of my OH’s desire for the amber nectar, we have purchased four cider apple trees. Yorkshire is not reknowned for its cider-making, but we are determined to give it a go. For the last year, we have been brewing our own cider, but not from scratch. Instead, we have been using cheap apple juice to produce TurboCider. This is a ridiculously easy thing to do. If you google TurboCider you will find lots of recipes and video demonstrations. The recipe we like best is this one.

You need:
A demijohn, cork and airtrap – available from Wilkinsons and lots of internet brewing sites
Siphon – to get it out of the demijohn when it is ready
A small sachet of champagne wine yeast (about a teaspoon)
Four-and-a-half litres of pure apple juice – from a supermarket (don’t get the sort with sugar or sulphates)

For the best results, you need to sanitise all equipment first, using metabisulphite, also available from brewing websites.

Once the equipment is ready, pour three litres of juice into the demijohn, add the sachet of yeast, give the demijohn a good shake to mix the yeast into the liquid, then put in the cork and airtrap and fill the airtrap with clean water. In only a couple of hours you will see the yeast begin to work. It is not necessary to put it in a very warm place – we leave ours in a fairly cool room. Leave the demijohn for 36 hours for the yeast to bubble up and subside, then add the remaining one-and-a-half litres of juice. The yeast will bubble up again, sometimes even through the airtrap, but after a day or two it will subside. Leave in the demijohn for two or three weeks until the yeast has dropped to the bottom and the cider is clear, then siphon off into sanitised bottles. You will get approximately 6 wine bottles full from one demijohn. You can leave the bottles to mature, or drink immediately – it tastes pretty good either way. And it is ridiculously cheap. Ignoring the cost of equipment, which is an investment, the yeast costs £1 a sachet, and the juice as little as 42pence per litre (we buy it in bulk from Costco), so the resulting cider costs about 60pence per litre. And you have the joy of having made something for yourself.

One day, we may have the satisfaction of pressing our own fruit and brewing in the time-honoured slow and steady way, but for now, TurboCider is a good substitute.

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Lemon Marmalade and Green Tomato and Chilli Chutney

Today I made lemon marmalade. I had acquired a couple of kilos of lemons from a large retail outlet, at a bargain price, and I had to use them up before they went off. I adapted the recipe for lemon and ginger marmalade I had made last autumn – very warming and spicy and nearly all gone by now. As usual I took my eye off the pot whilst I had lunch and it boiled over! But never mind, I am sure the results are worth it.lemon marmalade

It has been a productive year on the preserving front – I pickled some onions, made Onion Marmalade, green tomato and chilli chutney from the produce in the greenhouse, raspberry jam from our first crop of raspberries, and concocted various batches of herb oils and vinegars. I also froze several batches of runner and broad beans. I need to get a large earthenware crock so that next year I can preserve the runner beans in salt as my grandma taught me.

onion marmaladegreen tomato and chilli chutneyraspberry jam

Lemon marmalade recipe:

1.2 kg lemons

1.2 litres water

900g granulated sugar

Quarter the lemons and slice as thinly as possible across the quarters, putting any pips you encounter into a muslin bag. Tie the muslin bag up and put in the preserving pan with the lemon slices and the water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours, or until the fruit is soft. Allow to cool slightly and remove the bag of pips, squeezing to extract as much of the pectin as possible. Add the sugar to the pan and boil until setting point is reached (5-10 minutes or 105 degrees Celsius); remove from the heat and pour into warmed jars; put lids on the jars whilst they are hot. Tangy!

Green Tomato and Chilli Chutney Recipe

1 kg of green tomatoes (or however many you have rescued from the plants; I always have loads left because our summers are never long or sunny enough to ripen all of the fruits)

2 medium-sized apples

500g soft brown sugar

500 ml malt vinegar

125 g raisins or sultanas

300 g shallots

small piece of fresh root ginger

As many chillies as you like (minimum 3; chillies do very well for me in the greenhouse, and this year I grew three different varieties: Jalapeño, Iranian Round, and Wenk’s Yellow Hot, all of which were prolific)

Wash the tomatoes, slice the chillies (and deseed if you are not feeling quite that brave!), finely grate the ginger, core the apples, peel the shallots. Chop the tomatoes, apples and shallots so that they are reasonably chunky but not mushy – I use one of those manual chopping machines, but you could use a food processor or just do it by hand. Put all of the ingredients into the preserving pan and stir well whilst the mixture heats up to boiling point, making sure that the sugar has all dissolved, then turn down the heat to a simmer and just leave it, stirring occasionally to make sure it does not stick. This could take at least an hour; it is ready when it looks like jam! Spoon into warmed jars and tighten the lids. Once cooled the jars can be stored in a cupboard, but once opened they should be kept in a fridge. Absolutely delicious with cheese!




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Hello world!

This blog is going to be a bit of a jumble sale. My other half says I have too many hobbies, they are taking over the house, and I no sooner get to be good at something than I am looking for the next new interest – and he is right! But some interests do stand the test of time, and these I find are the ones I learnt early on in life.

Cooking; my grandma was a cook at one of the big houses in the next village, long before I was born. I remember the summer holidays from school, helping grandad in the vegetable garden harvesting beans and then helping grandma to preserve them in a vast earthenware crock layered with salt; or picking plums from the Victoria tree and helping her bottle them in Kilner jars.

Knitting; both of my grandmas and my mum were knitters and it was a skill I learned at an early age. I do not remember wearing a shop-bought jumper until I was in my twenties. I subsequently went on to learn crochet, clothes-making (even tailoring suits and shirts), embroidery and needlepoint, blackwork, fabric dying, patchwork, quilting – indeed anything to do with fabric and the decoration of home and person.

Chickens; the chickens my grandparents kept during and after the war were long gone by the time I arrived on the scene, but I remember tales of the fantastic eggs they gave. When I got a little patch of land I wanted some hens too.





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