The lowdown

El­speth Biltoft, owner of Rose­bud Pre­serves, gives ex­pert tips on pro­long­ing the life of sea­sonal fruit

Olive - - Contents - Pho­tographs ROB STREETER


Of all the types of pre­serv­ing, one of the most pop­u­lar is mak­ing jams, jel­lies and mar­malades of sea­sonal fruit. Plan your year and make a few jars of lots of dif­fer­ent things to dis­cover what you re­ally love. Start in early spring with forced rhubarb paired with stem gin­ger and or­ange. In June, pop a cou­ple of hand­fuls of fresh elder­flower into a muslin bag to add to sharp goose­ber­ries. Each sum­mer there’s a pro­fu­sion of soft fruits just wait­ing to be pre­served – rasp­ber­ries, straw­ber­ries and black­cur­rants for clas­sic jams, or red­cur­rants for vi­brant jelly. English plums, green­gages and damsons make great early au­tumn pre­serves. Pick wild crabap­ples and rowan berries for jel­lies to ac­com­pany roast meats. Make jelly from new-sea­son Bram­ley ap­ples, then add any of your favourite chopped herbs to cap­ture their vi­brancy. Close the year and start the new one with a se­lec­tion of cit­rus fruits to make tangy mar­malade. In­clude the clas­sic ‘in-sea­son’ bit­ter Seville or­anges from Spain.


Use a heavy-based stain­less steel pre­serv­ing pan with a top wider than its base if pos­si­ble, to help the evap­o­ra­tion process. A 10-litre pan should be big enough for your needs. It should only be half full af­ter the sugar is added, to al­low for a rolling boil with­out boil­ing over. You will also need the fol­low­ing equip­ment: a heat­proof bowl, plate, sieve, jug, fun­nel, wooden spoon, slot­ted spoon, sugar ther­mome­ter, new jars and some match­ing lids and la­bels.


To ster­ilise jars quickly, wash them in hot soapy wa­ter, rinse and put in a oven heated at 160C/fan 140C/gas 3 for 10 min­utes. This en­sures they are clean and hot just as you are ready to start fill­ing. Al­ter­na­tively, put the washed and rinsed jars in a low 50C oven while you make the jam.

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