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Preserving the harvest

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Strawberry Jam with Spiced Rum, served on ice cream.


Strawberry Jam with Spiced Rum, served on ice cream. Photo Store

The soul of my kitchen is an interesting phenomenon. Just like my grandma’s kitchen, it is not even in the kitchen. It is stored in a jar, in many jars to be exact, in the pantry.

Even on the brightest day, not much sun was allowed to filter into grandma’s pantry, where row upon row of pickles, preserves, jams and chutneys waxed and waned according to the season and hungry guests.

Preserving the harvest used to be a matter of necessity when we ate by a seasonal rhythm and, as my gran used to say, "opening a jar of strawberry jam in winter is like opening a jar of summer sunshine." Today with globalization, we have almost forgotten what the seasonality of food is, but the old craft of preserving is making a comeback, which means not only preserving tradition but also experiencing local produce and the terroir that gives it the unique flavour.

From my vast arsenal of pantry flavours I have selected the following, which I hope will inspire you to explore and enjoy what is local.

Curried Green Bean Relish

(Enjoy with a sharp cheddar or fresh ricotta)

Makes 4 - 250ml jars

1 kg (2.2 lbs) green beans

2 onions, chopped

100 g (½ cup) sugar

8 ml (½ tbsp) salt

25 ml (5 tsp) curry powder

5 ml (1 tsp) turmeric

30 ml (2 tbsp) cornstarch

5 ml (1 tsp) chili powder

450 ml (½ qt) apple cider vinegar Cooking instructions

Slice the beans to the required thickness, either fine or chunky. Put beans in a sauce pan with just enough boiling water to cover them. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the onions and boil for a further 5 minutes.

Mix the sugar, salt, curry powder, turmeric and cornstarch with a little vinegar, add to the beans with the remaining vinegar.

Stir well and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Pack into hot sterilized jars and seal immediately.


Cherry Mostarda

(great on a ham sandwich or with cold turkey)

Yield approximately 5 - 250ml jars

300 g (1½ cups) sugar

125 ml (½ cup) red wine vinegar

125 ml (½ cup) water

60 ml (¼ cup) Dijon mustard

30 ml (2 tbsp) Coleman’s English mustard (not powdered)

15 ml (1 tbsp) black mustard seeds

10 ml (2 tsp) salt

1.5 kg (6¾ cups) sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted Cooking instructions

In a saucepan mix together sugar, vinegar, water, mustard seeds and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Add cherries and continue to cook until cherries are softened, about 20 minutes and slightly thickened.

Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and seal immediately.


Strawberry Jam with Spiced Rum

(Use a dollop on ice cream, shown above)

Approx. 2 kg (14 cups) strawberries

450 grams (1 lb) sugar

500 ml Spiced Rum

Juice of 1 lemon

Hull the strawberries and quarter or halve the large ones, leaving the small ones whole.

Place strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a large heavy bottom saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and release some berry juices. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, cool and transfer to storage container and refrigerate overnight.

Strain the liquid into a large pot, reserving the strawberries.

Boil the liquid over a medium-high heat until the mixture has reduced by half and reached 100 C.

Return the strawberries, add the rum and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 100 C, about 15 minutes.

Ladle jam into sterilized jars, seal and process in a heat bath for 10 minutes.


Pickled Fish

(Enjoy with a green salad)

1 kg firm white fish fillets

Salt and pepper

2 large onions

5 cloves garlic

250 ml (1 cup) vinegar

125 ml (½ cup) water

10 ml (2 tsp) ground coriander

15 ml (3 tsp) garam masala

5 ml (1 tsp) turmeric

2 bay leaves

4 allspice berries

4 whole cloves

1 ml (¼ tsp) peppercorns Cooking instructions

Salt and pepper fish and bake in the oven until cooked. Remove and set aside Place rest of ingredients in a saucepan, except the sugar.

Bring to a boil, simmer until onions are transparent but still crisp.

Add sugar to taste and stir to dissolve.

Pour warm sauce over the fish, making sure each piece is covered.

Allow to cool and store in the fridge.


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