ANNABEL LANGBEIN

It’s easy to pre­serve the flavours of sum­mer to en­joy all year

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS -

Ed­i­ble gifts

When­ever pro­duce is in peak sea­son and cheap, I like to pre­serve it for use later in the year. The straw­ber­ries that are in full flush right now will never taste bet­ter. Soon there will be a plethora of berries to deal with, and then a run of lovely stone­fruit and pipfruit. And later still, as au­tumn rolls around, there will be pep­pers and chill­ies and toma­toes.

All these sun-kissed har­vests can carry their flavours into jars in the pantry to prop up the muted flavours of win­ter. Come a cold win­ter’s night, you will open the jar and bring out the tastes of sum­mer.

It might sound like a lot of work to get them there, but trust me, it’s easy. It’s not like you have to get out gi­ant caul­drons and go into a ma­jor pro­duc­tion — small batches of just a few jars are re­ally easy to make. There’s some­thing in­cred­i­bly rewarding and very ther­a­peu­tic about a line-up of jars filled and sealed on the bench ready for the pantry.

Get­ting into the rhythm of cre­at­ing a pantry of home­made pre­serves as cheap fresh har­vests come to hand saves time, energy and dol­lars later on. But even more than this, home­made pre­serves pro­vide a sig­na­ture to your food. You al­ways feel like a bit of a hero when you can pull out a jar of home­made ka­sundi or some peach chut­ney at the sum­mer bar­be­cue and have ev­ery­one clam­our­ing for the recipe.

I am a real fan of mak­ing ed­i­ble gifts for my friends. And I love re­ceiv­ing them. Last year for Christ­mas I re­ceived treats such as pinot noir cher­ries, Moroc­can tomato chut­ney, ka­sundi, In­dian peach chut­ney and some won­der­ful apri­cot jam. There’s some­thing so per­sonal about these kinds of gifts, they rep­re­sent the lex­i­con of a fam­ily’s larder, of­ten with the tastes and his­to­ries of recipes passed down gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion.

I aim for one batch pro­duc­tion each year, whether it’s home­made berry jam, chilli jam, a tasty nut but­ter, pick­led cher­ries or some other nice pickle or pre­serve. When you’re choos­ing what to make, think about per­isha­bil­ity — you want some­thing that will last at least three weeks. You also need to think about whether it has to be kept chilled — this can be a trial when fes­tive fridges are al­ready over­flow­ing.

It’s so sat­is­fy­ing know­ing that I’ve pro­duced some­thing delicious and handmade that the peo­ple I care about will en­joy.

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