The growing season may be almost over, but the preserving season is in full swing. If you have a spare afternoon and a freezer fruit glut, it's the best time of year to stir some fruit in a cauldron-like pan
Turn to page 42 of October's The Simple Things for Lia Leendertz's recipes for Blackberry and vanilla jam, Spiced damson and apple jelly, and Pink grapefruit and ginger marmalade.
Want some tips on pickling, pantries and preserves? Issue 39 of The Simple Things (September 2015) has plenty of tips beginning on page 116 (get back issues here!), or read on.
Jam-making, an act steeped in nostalgia and nest making, is hard to resist, and at this time of year when rich fruit pickings abound, not just in the garden or allotment but also in the hedgerow, it feels almost like a duty to do it. This simple act of husbandry fills the kitchen with comforting smells and activity, the pantry with provisions and distils the essence of summer in a jar.
But before you disrupt the household with bubbling pans and empty jam jars, pull on an apron and gather together a few items.
A preserving pan (sometimes called a maslin pan) is essential, the stronger the better and preferably made of stainless steel which won't corrode. A jam thermometer takes the guesswork out of reaching the setting point, and a long-handled preserving spoon is handy for safe stirring. A jam funnel makes pouring hot jam into Kilner jars a simpler operation and a variety of labels and covers gives the end result a decorative flourish.
Preserving brings a little of the summer's flavour and colour to the chillier months when the choice of seasonal food is limited. But which preservation method to go for? Here are some options:
Pickling: fruit and vegetables are immersed in a vinegar and spice solution
Fermentation: vegetables are soaked in a spiced brine solution. Sugar is sometimes added. Kimchi, a Korean food staple, is the ultimate fermented food
Chutney: chopped fruit and veg are cooked with vinegar, spice and herbs, to produce a sweet-sour mixture with a chunky texture
Brining: cuts of meat are steeped in salt water
Salting: meat and fish are coated with salt to draw out moisture and kill bacteria
Spring: rhubarb, cabbage, cauliflower, citrus fruit, asparagus
Summer: raspberries, plums, beetroot, asparagus, baby carrots, cucumbers, runner beans, apricots, courgettes, tomatoes, peaches
Autumn: apples, damsons, garlic, quince, blackberries, red cabbage, tomatoes, fennel, peppers
Winter: apples, cabbage, quince, citrus fruit
From How to Pickle by Gerard Baker for Lakeland