Gardening expert and TV personality Judith Hann, who left her life in the London media to escape to the Cotswolds, weaves together delicious, imaginative and seasonal herb-enhanced recipes in her latest book. In our first extract here, she shows how herbs
Imake a lot of preserves: for myself, to give as presents and to sell for charity. We have a mixed orchard and a lot of soft fruit, so it is a vital way to conserve any of the harvest that I cannot give away! During the winter months we enjoy the tastes of summer and autumn through preserves, which give something extra to our food.
There are a few rules to follow. Homemade preserves are often made with vinegar, so are less susceptible to bacterial infections like botulism. But always use sterilized jars: wash, rinse, then put upside down in an oven heated to 110°C/225°F/GAS ½ for 30 minutes, and fill and seal while still hot. If the jar lids are old, line them with parchment paper. Choose good-quality, unblemished fruit and vegetables.
APPLE AND HERB JELLY
When the apple trees in our orchard are groaning under the weight of their fruits, I make jars of apple and herb jelly using a variety of herbs, including mint, sage, tarragon, marjoram, lavender, rosemary, lemon thyme, scented geraniums, rose petals and also a few jars spiced with chilli, peppercorns and bay. The apples can be windfalls, crab apples, cookers or sharp eating apples. The mint jelly is good with lamb and I often glaze the meat with it before cooking. The sage jelly is used in the same way with pork, while chilli jelly is particularly useful as a glaze.
2kg/4lb 8oz apples, washed, peeled, cored and quartered
juice of 2 lemons granulated sugar (see method)
2 handfuls of your chosen herb, plus extra for identifying the jelly in the jar
Cook the apples in the lemon juice and 1.2litres/40fl oz/ 5 cups of water for 30 minutes until reduced to a pulp. Put the pulp into a jelly bag and leave to drip overnight. Measure the juice into a pan and add 450g/1lb sugar and 2 handfuls of the herb for each 500ml/17fl oz/generous 2 cups juice. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar dissolves, then boil hard for about 10 minutes. Skim, sieve to remove the cooked herbs, then pour into the sterilized jars (see above) and add a sprig of herb or 1 tbsp chopped herb to each jar.
Makes about 900g/2lb Preparation: 50 mins, plus overnight draining Cooking : 45 mins
POACHED PLUM AND LEMON VERBENA SAUCE
This is a marvellous lemony plum sauce, which can be used with puddings or made into a savoury, fruit sauce for dishes like pork or roast duck.
400g/14oz plums, pitted
1 large sprig of lemon verbena (about 40 leaves) about 175g/6oz/1 cup sugar, to taste (you shouldn’t need to add more than this)
Put the plums in a saucepan with a tiny splash of water – just enough to stop them sticking. Add the lemon verbena and sugar and simmer the plums until they are breaking down. This might take up to about 30 minutes, depending on how ripe they are. Sieve to leave a smooth sauce and transfer to a sterilized jar whilst still warm.
Makes about 500g/1lb 2oz Preparation: 15 mins Cooking : 30 mins
Taken from Herbs: Delicious Recipes and Growing Tips to Transform Your Food by Judith Hann © Nourish Books 2017, commissioned photography by Tamin Jones. £20.