Category Archives: In a bit of pickle

Chutney: Petal, the preserving pan and me #gdnblogger

Okay, the preserving pan has been sat idle for a while; the last batch of preserve was made in August. This close to Christmas, I might have made a few more bits and pieces. Alas, the mojo has been a bit adrift.

Until today.

The last batch that we made was ‘Oberon’s relish’ which involve apples, mint and green tomato. This has all now gone to loving homes, so  I thought about doing some experimenting. There were some plot grown scotch bonnets that need to be used, and I also harvested a fair bit of mint from the allotment. Home grown garlic was also used to form the base of the chutney.


This video doesn’t exist

You can see the youtube video here.

It does take time to prepare all of the ingredients; lots was chopped up before it could all get combined. Patience is required when cooking, to ensure that all of the flavours infuse and nothing burns. You really don’t want to be scrubbing the bottom of the preserving pan when burned stuff has welded itself there.

At the moment, the chutney is going to be very intense and quite fiery. Hopefully, it will mellow for a while before it can be tasted.

Garlic and gooseberries

No, no together, I assure you. At least not yet, not until I make a gooseberry pickle type thing. Two harvests in fact. The first, was of the garlic bulb. Purely as it had fallen over. I hoiked out the purple and and green bulb,not expecting the bulb to have split into cloves. Lo and behold, it had! There were quite a few cloves actually, and all very potent. These are the over wintering ones from the garlic farm, and  I do have say that at the moment I am rather impressed. Have yet to harvest any more, I usually wait til the foliage has gone all pale and raffia like. This went into an aubergine, tomato and pepper chutney.

Another experiment, came courtesy of the maiden gooseberry crop. These are my first ever gooseberries. And they went into a jam. I did bite into gooseberry the other day. I didn’t like the gooseberry, the gooseberry didn’t like me. I did want to experiment though, so these were jammed with a scotch bonnet.

#NABLOMPOMO: Preserving pan playing

I learned some valuable preserving lessons today.

And by the way, there wasn’t anything in the goodies that I had actually sown and grown. Just putting that out there.

We’ve had the jelly disaster, of a sort, before. With that rhubarb jelly that didn’t set. Well, I was adamant that I would learn to set it. Rhubarb, I learn, has little pectin. Explains why it didn’t set, plus I probably didn’t boil it long enough.

So we set ourself another challenge. How about yellow plum jelly, as we try to get the jelly to set.

Plums contain pectin, I wanted to make sure that this was the truth. As variable as they are, I want this jelly to well…gel.

We would follow the same process. Boil up the fruit, with a lemon, in water. Till it went squishy, and then we dripped it over the night time. That was okay, I did that. This morning, we boiled up the solution. It had a kick, i had thrown in a scotch bonnet.

Boiling up, there was the jam thermometer positioned on the edge. Ma and I were watching it get to setting temp, 104. We kept it there, and made sure it was at a rolling boil. A rolling boil, for a while, til the solution had reduced, and was harder to stir, and the liquid was gloopy and on the turn as it were.

I learned that this was important, the rolling boil, the turning to gloop. I had clearly missed a trick. This is to be retained for later.

There was lot preserving today, I was in the mood for experimentation and getting things right. I just need to work out how to stop sugar crystals forming.

#NABLOPOMO: That Rhubarb jelly

Well, yesterday, with good intentions, we extracted the juice from the rhubarb. It was left in the jelly bag over night, and we ended up with a fair bit of liquid. I awoke this morning, earlier that I would on a normal Sunday, to finish the job.

And tried to finish the job. Using sugar, weighed in relation to the liquid, and adding pectin powder, Ma and I set the pan boiling. We got it to 104 degrees C. We both watched the pan boil and the sugar thermometer hit the temperature.

That was boil one. We left it, hoping that it would set.

And we waited. We hoped.

Cue reboil two.

We thought about the pectin, perhaps we should add some more. The liquid-which tastes quite nice actually, was boiled once more. It even had the skin-like miniscus setting across the top.

But it’s gloopy. Syrupy pudding or porridge topper. A bit disappointed, but it’s still edible!

#NABLOPOMO: Jam pan Jelly time

At Christmas, Santa Claus delivered me a jelly bag and stand. Til now, I have not had any clear idea as what to do with it, or any fruit for that matter. However, rhubarb has started making an appearance on the plot. Whilst mine is still small and in it’s infancy, a plot neighbour has loads that he is more than happy to share.

So I asked if I could possibly scrump some for an experiment.  “Oh, sure she can take some, she came and asked like a lady,” he told my mum, who had already told me off anyway.

Harvested just over three pounds, I needed that much anyway as I also had some plums to add. All in all, I have used four pounds of fruit today.

The recipe was simple, provided to me by the lovely Preesall Preserves. Stew the rhubarb, water and ginger until the fruit was soft. Put all into a jelly bag, Then do the boil and setting point thing later with the sugar being measured in relation ot the liquid volume. I haven’t got that far yet. I am leaving this over night, and will attempt to boil and set tomorrow. I am using normal sugar, and for the first time ever, using powdered pectin. The fruits were stewed with a lemon, just to see if there was any pectin in the plums.

Hopefully, tomorrow, we might have a jelly. Or to give it it’s proper name, ‘Watson’s right hook’ zingy rhubarb and Plum  jelly. Cross your fingers!

Inaugral Aubergine and Mint Chutney


The jam pan has been sat idle since the summer, I’ve not done anything since then in terms of maslin pan preserving. Until now. Woke up today with the intention of avoiding all school work, quite a bit of that’s been done over the last few weeks. Today, we were going to make a variation on aubergine and mint chutney that I experimented with last year. Rummaged in the shed to retrieve the jars to be used. Washed them out, sterilised them. Today, we were to chutney.

I had to go find aubergines, I’m not growing any and not at this time of year anyway. Ma wouldn’t let me pinch the ones that she and Dad were going to have for their dinner. Four medium aubergines took a while to chop. Not to mention the red onions and fleshy tomatoes. The red pepper was simple enough. As well a few spices from Ma’s pantry and red wine vinegar. Did I mention the dozen or so dried chillies? It’s a good thing that chutney changes flavour with time. At the moment, chillies and red wine vinegar make for an interesting combination.

This started out as a me thing. I will make chutney today.


I was wrong, the ‘production manager’, namely my mum was going to  help. She’d help me, if she could carry out her own seed sowing experiment, She has saved some indian baby pumpkin seeds, and wants to sow them into pellets. Plus, if the two of us chop, then it doesn’t take too long. She’d also, dragged along the stool before I could occupy the hob. I was not going to get a look in, and this is, after all, her kitchen. I spent a lot of the process by her elbow as she tended over the jam pan. Plus, the mint in question, is her home grown mint. Harvested and dried, it’s in there somewhere.

Preserving Prep: stashing jars


Since last year’s preserving and pickling experiments, I have been on the scrounge for empty jam and sauce jars. I have been collecting them from the house kitchen, friends and colleagues. Not knowing, how many I had actually stuffed into Dad’s shed. Ma has been telling me that there were quite a few that were stashed, and I should probably want to check how many. I have been very fortunate, that a dear friend of my is currently weaning one of her lovely kids. So this has meant that I have been able to freecycle her baby food jars. Some of them have lids, some don’t. Not too worried about that, as I have been using cling film to seal in contents. Tidied up Dad’s shed and stashed nearly hundred of the baby food jars. There are about thirty other miscellaneous jars also stored there. Turns out I have quite a few, and I still want to collect more. To get me started last year, I did buy some ‘proper’ jars and these were used quite well. Even had labels on, with the figure holding carrots-you know the one, the avatar on the blog. That is my brand! Have had a look into trade marking it, so the is a firm idea of what the blog and allotment experiments are all about. (And yes, that is apparently what I look like too). A perfectly unique image, created by the same artist in residence who last year planted potatoes and tulips, remember him?

It’s not quite you know, the Del Boy traders thing yet. I know that using baby food jars is okay for small scale preserving that might be for home, family and colleagues. Less so, If this was all a small business enterprise and I was selling commercially. I know that there are rules and regulations about packaging too. All will be looked into, should this ever get off the ground as it were.

That is the dream though, to marry up Psychology, counselling, allotmenteering with preserving and pickling. One day!

Jam, jellied: the kit


When you too many courgettes, and you don’t want to so much as curry one. You have to think of alternatives. Last year was the first time that I made a foray into jams and chutneys. I had wibbly ones, spicy ones, one that set like Concrete. There was a lot of experiments. Especially when I had tomatoes by the tonne.

I soon realised that if I had a proper pan-nothing wrong with mum’s big Dahl pot, except  When you might burn it and have to scrub it-the whole process might be easier. I found the maslin jam pan, funnel and spoon as a bargain special buy. It’s a big pan, and at times I do struggle with getting a “rollicking boil’. I also has a jam thermometer as I can never get the cold plate Wrinkle test right. I tend to panic when I don’t get the setting point of 104 degrees c. That is a deliberate figure, the setting point of jam.

Santa Claus did also deliver me jelly straining kit. Have yet to use it,

So no photo yet. You could always use suspended clean. Sterilised muslin. The same as the one I use for home brew.

I am far from being an expert preserver. I nearly cried when I burned the bottom of the pan with blackberry jam. Thought the pan was a goner.

Last of the summer preserves: spicy green tom chutney




I got a little bored of chopping tomatoes, so only half of that trough actually made it into chutney. Lots of green tomatoes, with a onion, garlic and ginger base.

Were added to cider vinegar, purée tomatoes, mustard, cumin, chillies, cayenne, paprika, turmeric, peppercorns , fennel and white mustard seeds. Cooked slowly until a large amount of the liquid has disappeared.

I did put a fair bit of tomato purée so that it didn’t look like a green mess. So far it tastes as though it has a kick.