Just some ideas as to what to make for the Pantry this month or as I call it the "Putdown". They are just ideas - some of them I will achieve other's I won't but its good to have a check list as a reminder as what is potentially open to you to have a go at this month. This is just my list - it is very much work in progress and no doubt will be added to in due course.
Just because Christmas is over doesn't mean to say that there isn't work to be done i.e. squirrelling away a few pots of this or that to ensure that there is something interesting to put on your family's table, and some items are seasonal like Seville Oranges and its nice to have a few jars of this available to give as presents and/or the basic ingredients to hand to make a batch of marmalade etc when you do have time to play. I have had bought Seville Marmalade but there is nothing quite like home made Seville Marmalade that really is a treat for the palate.
Sometimes ingredients come your way unexpectedly and it would be a shame not to make use of this "manna from heaven" especially in this day and age, where priorities are changing and the most important things are keeping a roof over your head, food in your belly and heat to keep you warm. As long as the basics are covered everything else is a blessing.
To help eke out our slender income at the moment, I have tended to not buy ready processed foods, but do all this myself as it works out a lot cheaper and you end up with more jars of produce than you would do if buying it from a supermarket often with more flavour. This way round you can also keep tabs on where the product came from and whether it fits in within your own set of ethics when it comes to being grown along organic lines, free range etc. and if you have children that have sensitivities its a good way of making sure that they are not consuming any nasties.
I tend to make a load of preserves, but I also freeze a lot of basic ingredients for use later on as well. Frozen in their natural form gives you more options as to what you use them in. This can be handy stop gap as if you run out of your favourite preserve part way during the year at least you will be able to re-stock up again. Although this is not always available to do depending on the ingredient but often there are other options available than freezing. I tend to get what I can in the freezer but then if I am running out of room I turn to bottling and/or making jams or other preserves. Its just about finding the best way for the ingredient involved. It is also very satisfying to be able to go to the pantry or the freezer and be able to get what you want without having to nip out to the shops and for a treat to produce something out of season.
After Christmas and before they disappear
I adore these roasted but they make a lovely pudding that can be stored in the freezer.
They also make a lovely jam.
One of the things I tend to do just after Christmas is to try and get hold of Cranberries at a reduced price I then make a big batch of cranberry and apple jelly -we use this preserve prolifically throughout the year, along with other preserves. There are certain preserves I just have to have in the kitchen a nd this is one of them. I use my local veg shop and the market but I also pop my head in the supermarkets occasionally specifically looking for reduced fruit and veg - things like blueberries are very handy to get hold of at reduced rates as they can be used to make a compote to add to yoghurt or in blueberry muffins. I am fortunate that my local veg shop has a reduced basket and you can quite often pick up plums and pears etc at a reduce rate which is ideal for making up a few pots of jam, or bottling or even making chutney or pickle. Anyway I diverse.
There are lots of ideas for using Cranberries, especially if you manage to get enough of them. Here are just a few ideas:
Cranberry Gin or Vodka - in readiness for next Christmas
Freeze them - then when the freezer is full
Cranberry and Grand Marnier Sauce
Cranberry and Orange Compote
Cranberry and Juniper Jelly
Mandarins, Clementines, Satsumas and lemons Oranges and Grapefruits
You can make curds out of these from the juice - save the peels and either blitz them in the food processor with oils and spices to make your own scented oils for burning in an oil burner or adding to pot pourri or dry the skins and use them ground up or the dried peel whole in casseroles. Or if you have a coal or log fire dry the skins and then burn them on the fire they scent the room beautifully.
Or you can candy the peels and make your own mixed peel for use in baking and/or next year's Christmas pudding and Christmas cake.
You can also make Cordials and jellys as well as bottle the Mandarins, Clementines and Satsumas in syrup.
The following is only a rough check list more like an aide memoire and I will post up the recipes I use under their own headings separately. If you are looking for a specific recipe please ask I have an extensive collection of cookery books and am quite happy to check and look to see if I have the recipe you are after.
Marmalades of all persuasions
Seville Orange Marmalade
Seville and Ginger Marmalade
Seville Orange Gin/Vodka or Brandy
Ginger in Syrup
Lemon/Orange Curd or as above
Apple Jelly with the last of the crab apples
Rhubarb for Freezer
With any left over dried fruit why not start the Mincemeat for use later on in the year and/or Christmas