All too often our preserves sit at the back of the pantry gathering dust. But using them is just as important as making sure your homegrown goodness doesn’t go to waste in the first place.
You’ve worked hard all season in the vegie garden, watering, weeding, mulching and nurturing your garden. You’ve harvested in fits and starts as your precious food ripens, you’ve shared and swapped your abundance with others but, even the most disciplined succession planter, or the grower who learns to limit certain things to just one or two plants (we’re looking at you, zucchini), is inevitably left with a glut.
Hauling basketfuls of food into your kitchen and working them into the preserve pantry is an enormously rewarding exercise in virtuosity. Because come winter, when the vegie garden is tucked up under its blanket of mulch except for the odd brassica and slowly maturing garlic, you’ll be popping the lid on your preserved harvest and reliving those summer days through your tastebuds.
Just like you plan what you’re going to grow, it makes sense to plan how you’re going to preserve your produce in order to get the most from it.
From The Jar
As vegie growers, we can often recall our growing seasons by the gluts particular years leave us with: the pickled cucumber, the dilly beans, the raspberry jam, the plum sauce … But it’s one thing having shelves and shelves of preserves, but making sure both the initial work of growing the food, then the second-tier effort of preserving it doesn’t go to waste means finding interesting and delicious ways to use them.
Front And Centre
Of course plenty of preserves can be easy to use straight from the jar – sometimes it’s just remembering they’re there. Pickled vegies are are perfect to take on picnics, in a sandwich or added to a cheese plate.
And while it’s easy to associate preserved fruit with sweet things like having it over ice cream or a decadent topping for cakes, thinking outside the box and marrying them with savoury flavours can bring great results, like the meat marinade on page 52.
Because of the effort they take to create, preserves also make really great gifts and they’re the perfect thing for when you don’t want to turn up empty-handed.
No article about using preserves would be complete without mentioning chutney and relish. Without doubt, chutney and relish come into their own when you eat in line with the seasons. Because you can end up having to come up with different ways to make the same produce present and taste differently week after week, having a store of various chutneys is the single greatest solution to the repetition. Using fruit and vegies, and both sweet and savoury, variations on chutneys are endless.
PLUMS ARE EASILY FORAGED, SO NEVER FEEL GUILTY FOR USING LOTS OF IT IN ONE RECIPE.
1 250 ml jar of plum sauce
3 tbsp nut spread (this can be any nut you like) 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1 tbsp seeded mustard
Blend all together well and marinate meat for at least two hours before baking, roasting or barbecuing.
A FAVOURITE IN SUMMER, SO WHY GO WITHOUT DURING WINTER? MAKES FOUR SERVES.
1/2 cup chia seeds
400 ml organic coconut milk 1 cup berry preserve
Sprinkle coconut flakes, toasted Sprinkle flaked almonds, toasted
Mix chia and coconut milk together well and pour into your glasses. Allow them to set slightly by letting them sit for 10 minutes or so. Place a large dollop of berry preserve on top of each. Transfer to the fridge to set for at least one hour or up to a day. To serve, sprinkle with freshly roasted coconut and almond flakes and spoon straight from the glass.
Preserved stone fruit
A PERFECT WINTER PICK-ME-UP THAT WORKS JUST AS WELL WITH PRESERVED PEARS.
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter, diced
1 L jar of preserved stone fruit halves 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup rapadura sugar (or any unrefined sugar) 2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup full-cream milk
Preheat oven to 180 ºC. Sprinkle the sugar in the base of a non-stick cake tin and arrange the pieces of butter evenly around the tin. Next, arrange the preserved fruit halves around the base of the baking tray and up the sides a little and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla on medium speed for around two minutes or until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat briefly – don’t worry if the mixture goes a little bit lumpy – then scrape down the sides of the bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the plain flour and baking powder. Add half of the flour mixture, along with all of the milk and gradually mix together on a low speed. Add the remaining flour mixture and continue to beat until the cake batter is just smooth and creamy – try not to over mix.
Pour cake batter into the centre of the baking tray that’s lined with the preserved fruit and bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool before turning out to reveal your fruity top. Serve with cream or ice cream.