Monday, 31 July 2017

The best laid plans of mice and men

Were well and truly scuppered.  I got as far as getting all the ingredients together and the jam jars out of the shed then something blew up (family matter) that needed sorting out and by the time I got finished up I was too late to start the chutney. Bother! So I have parked that on the back burner for this evening.  I will reconvene tomorrow evening and try again.  Never mind the jars are out of the box they were stored in and at least I got 9 jars of pasta sauce after yesterdays session.

I have since found some more tomatoes which will need using up.  I thought I had processed all the ones I bought on Saturday but there appears to be another bag.  So have to look for another useful recipe. I am thinking tomato paste or tomato ketchup at this point. On the newer recipes I tend only to make up one batch of something (if its about four to five jars)  really to make sure that we like it or make notes on how to tweak it for next time.  A lot of preserves get given as part of a small Christmas present in any event so even though I make a lot quite a bit gets given away  but equally I end up with a nice stockpile too.

I also ended up putting some new jars into the shed that I had purchased recently so not too bad a job done with getting them put into the stash.  But it did not get my chutney done. Grhh. I have a lot to do as usual.  I also want to get the mincemeat started.  Its a good way of using up some of the older dried fruit that might be in your cupboard, together with fresh ingredients, a bit of this and a bit of that.I use one of my Rumptopf pots for this purpose.  I now have three Rumptopfs.  One is full of fruit  and hic rum and two are currently empty; one will be used for the mincemeat as I have said.  It is an ideal time for starting the mincemeat and I have several recipes my favourite though is the one that my friend Bovey Belle gave to me when we both used to belong to  the same forum.  That is some of the moistest mincemeat I have ever had.

Right I am ready for my bed but still have the cats to feed.

Catch you soon.


Red Tomato Chutney

This is the recipe I intend to make this evening when I get in from work.  However I will have to get the jars out of the shed and get them sterilised when I get in from work.


1.4kg/3lb ripe tomatoes
675g/1 1/2lb small onions
1kg/2lb cooking apples
480ml/16 fl oz white wine vinegar
330g/12 oz of sugar
175g/6 oz of sultanas
10ml/2 tsp of salt
5ml/1 tsp ground cloves
5ml/1 tsp ground ginger
2.5ml/ 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Makes about 2kg/ 4 1/2lb


Cut the cores out of the tomatoes (the green bit at the top of the tomato) then  place the tomatoes into a bowl and cover with boiling water to remove the skins.  Leave about 15 to 20 seconds or until the skins actually split.  then place the tomatoes into a bowl of cold water to stop them cooking.  Remove from the water one at a time and remove the skins.  Once the skin is removed chop up roughly.

Peel and thinly slice the onions (this is where I end up in floods of tears) so if at all possible I actually put the onions into boiling water about 15 minutes before I actually need them with their skins on and then peel one at a time.  I have found that this reduces the effect of the onion especially when I am peeling shallots or pickling onions.

Peel core and chop the apples and then transfer the tomatoes, onions and apple to your saucepan or preserving pan.  Add all the remaining ingredients and give a good stir with a spoon to combine everything.

Bring to a boil stirring to keep the mixture moving and to stop it burning on the bottom of the pan.  Then lower the heat to a simmer and then stir quite frequently for about 45 minutes or until the fruit and vegetables are soft and the chutney has reduced and thickened.  If you can draw the back of a spoon through the mixture if the mixture is ready there should be no runny mixture or vinegar in the pan.

Spoon the chutney into warmed sterilised jars to within 3mm/ 1/8 of an inch from the top of the jar stir with a round ended knife to remove any air pockets.  Seal the jars and label when the mixture is cold.  Keep in a cool dark place or about 2 months to mature before using to allow the flavours to develop.  Or in my case hide it from the OH because if he gets his hands on the chutney or piccalilli there is precious left for Christmas.  Keeping the chutney so long helps the flavours develop so you end up with a tastier chutney.

Recipe taken from Clearly Delicious by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz.


So that is what I will be doing this evening (other things as well) and sometimes I get on quicker than others but this is the main thing planned for this evening.

I also have the mixed fruit cordial to finish off as well and process in my baby steriliser so I do need to go into the shed to retrieve the bottles so after getting tea on the go I think that will be the first port of call.

Catch you later.



Sunday, 30 July 2017

Where has the day gone to

Its been a busy old day and I haven't got to do what I intended to do but I have got to do an awful lot of sorting out that needed doing.  But will get there in due course.

We have had another visit down to the tip; another one is scheduled but I have an awful lot of decluttering to do.  Will try and get a batch of chutney on this evening and all bottled up, but if not it will keep until tomorrow evening when I may well be able to get both batches that I had planned up and running.  

Oh has given the hedge a haircut and then taken me out for tea.  However there was a method in his madness.  He wanted to watch the Grand Prix without distraction!.

Right I had better get a wriggle on still loads to do - hopefully I will make good inroads and get everything done and dusted.

Catch you soon.



Saturday night catch up

Saturday night was spent in the kitchen processing the tomatoes, onion and leak - with the onion making my eyes run  all for the making of home made pasta sauce.  No nasties in this sauce whatsoever.  I did three batches in all. Its not a strong sauce but it is tasty and it is made from fresh veggies - depending on what I am making I add extra flavour when it comes to the cooking of the sauce tailored to that recipe. I also add lemon juice to each bottle.  However once the canner arrives!

I will make tomato and apple chutney tomorrow.  The  recipe is located and later on I will have two batches of chutney on the go side by side.  A batch of tomato chutney (it does have apples and other things in it) and also plum chutney.  I also have apple and pear chutneys to make as well.  The longer a chutney gets to mature in my mind makes all the difference.  There are a couple of new chutney recipes I want to try as well.

I think I have prepared about 6kg of tomatoes this evening.   Its all worth it in the end though knowing that I have ingredients to add to meals and complement them (and which hopefully when the canner arrives I will be able to can meat, fish, soups etc).  Simple meals like bread and cheese and cold meats and pork pie can be pepped up with a little chutney, piccalilli, pickled shallots and onions which can also be popped into casseroles.  Chutneys can also be added to casseroles and stews to pep the flavour up.  As I have said before if you can find a way to use it that works for you then that is all that matters.

OH has asked for some pickled Jalapeno's so I am going to look into that as well.  Its not something I am keen on but its something he likes.  So I may well pay a visit to the market this week and see what I can find.  I need to make sweet chilli sauce and chilli jam in any event.  Oh and I want to prepare some chilli vodka as well as home made tomato sauce for making home made "Bloody Mary's".  So if I can find them it looks like it will be a bulk purchase of chillis.  I also want some more long thin chillis for drying.

Pickled cabbage I leave as late as I can to make as it does not have the shelf life of other preserves.  Pickled cabbage we use a lot to pep up a winter salad and in the colder months it looks quite stunning and cheerful mixed in with green leaves.  Even in the winter months we have salad.

I also have a couple of very large jars of pickled eggs to do at some point.  Yet again not something I am keen on but OH does like them.

Tomorrow I have quite a bit to do so technically will not get to the preserving until the afternoon.   As I am writing this it is chucking it down with rain here and has been for a good couple of hours so that could put a damper on what I had planned we will see what happens in the morning.

Catch you soon.


P.S.  I have bottled 9 jars of pasta sauce with a quantity left over to make home made Lasagna.  I have mince in the fridge and some strong cheddar that needs using up. Thats 9 Lasagna's or pasta type dishes.  I must just mention that this sauce comes up an orangey red as there are no additives or colourings added.  I hope to get more tomatoes at the end of the week and do some more.  Its very satisfying preparing things for the pantry shelf.  There is also mixed fruit cordial soaking in the fridge.



Saturday, 29 July 2017

The Preserving Pot

Well its not on the bubble but it will be shortly.  Hubble bubble time is my time for dreaming and weaving my magic with the preserves I make for the pantry shelf.  I just enjoy doing this sort of thing and whilst I am stirring the contents of a maslin pan I dream and plan; it is very cathartic and soothing.

I have started with the pasta sauce.  The first batch is in the oven roasting down tomatoes cut into wedges, basil, thyme, onion, leak spring onion and garlic liberally drizzled with lots of light olive oil.  I have a couple of batches to go yet as I managed to get quite a lot of tomatoes quite cheaply.  I will do at least three batches of the tomatoes and if I have any tomatoes left over I will probably make some tomato and onion chutney.  That's the plan anyway. 

I also have plums. I plan to do some chutney and then some Chinese plum sauce with these ones , but in the coming weeks I hope to get some Victoria Plums to preserve in syrup.  You can serve these warmed through just with some custard or they can be drained and popped into a pie or even with a sponge topping.  Good solid food to keep you warm during the cooler months.

I also have more pears, spiced pears in vinegar, mulled pears and some more Apricots, to do jam and bottle up.  OH is not keen on mulled pears but I love them.  He is not keen on cinnamon.

I have also been eyeing up the wild food larder.  A week on the blackberries are starting to produce.  I am hoping to go blackberrying tomorrow so that I can make some bramble and apple jelly.  Its a great favourite in this house and is delicious served with plain scones and cream.  They are also delicious dropped into a batter and then cooked in small pancakes akin to the size of Scotch pancakes and served with some fresh berries which have been warmed in a pan with a little sugar and the juices allowed to flow and some cream,  Yum.  there are lots of other recipes I am hoping to do too but it depends on how many blackberries we are able to harvest.

I thought the elderberries would be ready this weekend.  They are not far off but I think they need another week - so I am planning on getting some of those next week.  I have a lot I want to do with the humble elderberry.

There would appear to be a lot of them.  I just hope I get my timings right.  I would like to make elderberry jelly, elderberry rob, Pontack sauce, elderberry wine, the blackberry and elderberry cordial I posted the recipe earlier for; some Hedgepick pie filling, and Hedgepick jam plus some other recipes that I have been eyeing up as well. There is a lot to do.  Elderberry wine is good to use in cooking as well especially in casseroles or in sauces.  We like pheasant but neither of us like it hung and a shot of elderberry wine goes well with a pheasant casserole.  

My Nan used to get pheasant from the locals but to make it stretch further she would if there was a crowd of us have about three pheasants and then cook it with a large chicken.  She would then on a plate serve a slice of chicken and a slice of pheasant alternating until there was enough on the plate and both meats complement each other.  Its just we won't and don't eat them hung.

I am hoping that I can locate some Damsons - in all my time preserving I have only come across them once and that was at a local market.  I have never seen them since despite looking but with those Damsons I made Damson and orange jam and it was delicious.  I would also quite like to get some Damson Gin on the go as well.

I will be looking for Sloes this year for Sloe Gin.  It is a great favourite here and very warming on a cold winters day.  You can however use it in casseroles and in sauces.

I also have mint to turn into keeping mint sauce.  I can fit that in and around doing everything else.  It is not a complicated or onerous job and I have an electric herb chopper which is ideal for doing the chopping.

Right excuse me I have things to get on with and food to get processed for the pantry shelf and I do have quite a bit to do.  Hopefully will catch up again soon.

Catch you shortly.



Its been one of those mornings so far

It started with a visit to work for me as last evening I lost my mobile phone.  So to make absolutely sure before I started to make further detailed search I popped into work - I had managed to leave it on my desk overnight!  So safely recovered it was back home. 

OH had to go out to be fitted for his suit.  I inadvertently had been teasing him that his son had texted me and told me what he would be wearing i.e. one of these light up rotating dickie bows and that he would be wearing his birthday suit - ala Frank Butcher.

I am not sure whether he believed me or not but to be on the safe side he did mention it to my step son - who declined all knowledge.  However I may have inadvertently given my step son an idea.  He is an eternal joker!

Anway, he got scrubbed up and  donned the proverbial clean undies and off he went to get fitted up.

He has at long last met the bride's father and he has a sense of humour so that is a good start!  We are all also staying over the night before the wedding so will get to know them a little better then.  Dad is divorced from mum, and has a new partner - same on our side, both separated mums will be attending as well.  So from what I can understand the top table will have my step-son and the bride.

After his fitting, OH has come back absolutely starving so brunch it was egg, bacon, sausages and fried eggs which has gone down very nicely.

In the interim I paid a visit to the Charity shop and retrieved the cooking pans I bought last week a set of three very large pans but only two lids.  They will be idea for brewing - I want to brew some beer a little later, but will also come in useful for other projects.

  I also came away with two raspberry pink Lampshades which are in superb condition(£3 each), so they have been squirrelled away for use at a later date.  At the moment it is the wrong shade of pink for the front room but I have an idea.

I also bought four old floral tea plates (£1.20), five pink pyrex dishes (£2.50), a brand new Mason Cash pudding basin (£1.50). 

Then I went to the veg shop; I have come back with loads of tomatoes, loads of plums, more Apricots, some more of the multi coloured lemons, two large cauliflowers.  Am going to make some Cauliflower cheese, plum, chutney, pasta sauce, so have my work cut out as usual.  Now all systems go getting the tomatoes roasted with garlic, leek, onion, and Basil and thyme.  Then once cooked it has to go into the food processor then into sterilised jars and hot water bottled processed.  So as I say a lot to do as usual but hopefully it means I am going to have a good stock of food ready to hand which will be increased once the Canner arrives.

I am lucky in that I have access to reduced tomatoes at £1 a kg, apples, plums and pears the same.  The shop where I go has a trolley outside of the shop where they sell off produce that is not in perfect condition but it is still more than useable.  It is ideal for preserving jams, chutneys, pickles, etc.  If I had my way this is how I would have everyone buy their veggies as you get so much more for your money.  If you don't use those facilities available to you then they will go and will not be replaced.

My Shallots and picklers have been ordered and I have asked for Victoria Plums  and Greengage.  So we shall wait and see what happens.

Catch you later.



Friday, 28 July 2017

Beeswax and Polish

I love proper beeswax polish, especially when it has been liberally popped onto my welsh dressers and then polished off with a bit of elbow grease.  It smells good and wholesome and gives the furniture a lovely shine.  I first decided to make some myself just after they bought out the Turpentine substitute and in the process was not able to get any proper Turpentine. 

I have been browsing through my books again and I have come across the recipe that originally inspired me to have a go in the first place.  A recipe from the Sloe Gin and Beeswax Book by Jane Newdick.  It is a lovely book.  If I remember correctly she also did a series on TV - I did not manage to see it all and was showing people how to do these things at home.

I am getting myself organised again on the different crafting front.  This evening I have ordered some beeswax sticks, primarily for my embroidery. 

I am one of these people who are a bit "cack-handed" and end up in a terrible mess with my embroidery threads splitting the thread or getting it into a knot when trying to separate the strands out.  I hit on the idea of using beeswax from an old embroidery book; apparently embroiderers used to use it to help separate the threads and split them down individually but it also stops the thread knotting up when you use it.  All you do is rub the beeswax block down one side of the embroidery thread and then the other.  It helps me anyway.

Whilst on the Internet I decided to try and see if I could locate some proper Turpentine but I did not want to pay an arm and a leg for it.  Buying polish is expensive anyway but I want the satisfaction this time round of making my own.  I have located some on Ebay which is not too extortionate however Amazon was far too expensive.  So an Order has been placed and I may one day next week be able to make my own at long last.  I have some natural essential oils to add as well.  This 1 litre tin costs £6.95 but with postage charges  works out at £10.  Remember you have to be extremely careful with Turpentine as it is highly inflammable.

My double boiler for the soap and the candle making has arrived also; so I am gradually gathering things together so that I am ready and able to get on when I need to.  I need to source some tins or maybe I can use a jar I have plenty of them to hand and then a pretty fabric topper to make it look nice.

So things are starting to come together nicely.  That's another project lined up to do. 

Catch you soon. 

Pattypan xx

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Waiting for Things

Well apparently, the Canner is on its way and looks to be delivered over the weekend/beginning of next week.  Fingers crossed for the weekend.  Can't wait.  Just have to locate the books now and then I can really start to play.

I had also purchased a jerky gun, which basically means you can use ground meat/mince to make jerky with the addition of spices and a curing powder which I would take to be something like a Prague powder and then squirts it out of a special nozzle to create strips.  It is basically a medium sized sausage stuffer type gun with the addition of the special nozzles so I am looking forward to having a play with that too.

OH has to go for a suit fitting this weekend.  My step-son is getting married to his soul mate shortly at the beautiful Orton Hall Hotel in Peterborough.  I suppose I had better start looking for something nice to wear as well.  No hat though; don't do hats as a rule.

I have also ordered some candle moulds so that I can have a go at doing some fancier candles to give as pressies. 

I am also looking at the soap making as well.  I thought if I started with something like the  melt n pour it would help me get into the swing of things and then possibly brave enough to have a go at making my own from scratch.  I have seen and smelt many beautiful soaps over the years and would quite like to be able to make my own for the house and for my own use; that rather appeals to me.  Fresh linen i.e. soft comfy towels and lots of nice smelling soap.  Lovely makes everything smell fresh and clean.  

I am also waiting for a couple of kits a cordial kit and also a wine making kit.  So we shall see how we get on with those.

Right things to do  - lots to do.

Catch you later.



Wednesday, 26 July 2017

A new Craft Book

I came across this book whilst having a mooch around Amazon the other day and I must say I am very pleased with it.  The projects are mostly "vintage" themed and some of the items used are vintage fabrics and recycled.  Like a beautiful handbag made out of some pretty fabric and a pansy flower crochet mat.  It looks stunning and would make a very individual gift.  A charming book with lots of lovely projects some of which I shall certainly make.  It has given me some ideas for Christmas presents.

Yet another lovely book by Debbie.  I have quite a few of the others and they all have something that I would want to make in them. In fact I have a long list of the things I would like to make lined up along with all the other things I have yet to complete and yet to start.

I also like the Sew Inspired Magazine and am especially interested in the smocking technique for making cushions and handbags.  I just need more time to actually play and concentrate on making things.

One day.

Catch you soon.



What is a Cheese and the process involved for making the same (1)

Here are some pictures of how a cheese should look.  If you look closer at the pictures the preserve is more solid than a jam and is sliceable the traditional way of serving a cheese.  Membrillo is a form of cheese but can also be referred to as a paste.  Some cheeses are stickier than others though.

Basically a jam product made with the pulp left over from making jellies, with the addition of sugar and long cooking.  The "cheese" is then served in slices alongside normal cheese and meats (like you would a chutney to enhance the simple fare) although this is served in slices so it is more solid than a jam or a chutney.  It is believed that it is called a "cheese" because it was actually served with cheese.  If you look back in the older cookery books there are quite a few recipes for a cheese.  However what does become confusing is that Lemon Curd is sometimes sold as Lemon Cheese, which is not quite the same thing.

Anyway whatever the circumstances behind this it is a way of using up a useful commodity that may well have been wasted and that was not allowed in the kitchens of the past.  It was traditionally made after jellies had been prepared and after the straining of the fruits through a jelly net the net was often compacted quite tightly with a load of pulp and peels and was a way of getting something for nothing in effect out of ingredients that had already been paid for.

We love a cheeseboard in this household and quite frequently have a different variety of cheeses to hand although I am looking more and more into this as I am keen to have a go at preparing my own in due course.

Because a cheese has to be sliced it needs to be more solid than a normal preserve and needs more high heat cooking.  As a result you have to be really careful because the "cheese" will spit ferociously during the cooking process.  I know to my cost and boy does it burn so keep some water near the stove to sling on quickly if this does happen as jam keeps on burning if it lands on you.

Once cooked it is decanted into straight-sided pots. I found using a jam jar the first time round I could not get the cheese out when it was cold.  I found using up those little glass dishes that Marks and Spencers did for some of their puddings range are ideal and you can sometimes pick these up in the Charity Shops literally for pennies.  If you cannot find any of those use ramekins.

The glass dishes need to be sterilised as per normal sterilising practices but be careful with hot water as it could potentially crack the glass dish if there is a flaw in it.  However they need to be sterilised and dried.  The jars are then coated liberally with some glycerine.  I put this on some tissue and then wipe it around the dishes liberally.  This together with the straight sided glass dishes helps for an easier release.  The hot mixture is then added to the dishes not quite to the top there needs to be a small gap.  

The next question is how do I keep the preserve airtight and safe for use.  Before I start to use the jars I cut out several card circles from old cereal packets etc. using the top of the jar as a template and running the biro round and then cutting out the card.  I then once the preserve is air-tight (and there is another stage yet) Sellotape the card discs on top of the dish.  Doing this means you have a top to keep the preserve clean and you can also stack the dishes.

I had read a lot over the years about how they used to preserve foodstuffs for the winter months using stone jars and pig bladders(I don't really want to go there but it was a method that was used) and then ultimately the wax method where I read about what they used to do although there were no pictures and I worked out the following method for myself in which to store the Cheese.

However to make the preserve sterile I use an old fashioned method of sealing the jars, which very much used to be the way of making the preserve airtight before the introduction of cellophane lids and greaseproof inserts.  I use paraffin wax which has been melted.  First of all I let the cheese cool then I pop a greaseproof paper insert on the top of the preserve making sure it is too big rather than too small as you need the whole surface area covering.  I then melt the paraffin wax.  I then cut a good length of sewing cotton and double this up several times and lay this across the top of the greaseproof paper in the middle making sure that the cotton overlaps either side of the dish and pour in a little paraffin wax so the whole of the top of the surface area of the pot with the cotton in it and then let it set.  The reason the cotton is there is to help break the wax seal when you come to use the cheese. I then add the card circle tops to the pot with some Sellotape to help keep the cheese clean and also so that I can stack the little dishes on top of the other.  When ready to use the cheese is then turned out on a plate and cut into slices and served with cheese and meat in slices.  It keeps the preserve beautifully.  I have even used this method for sealing jams.  However it depends on how busy I am.  If I do not have much time I just put the waxed seal or greaseproof on.

I hope that this has been useful to you  and I will post up the method of making a cheese and recipes in a later post.

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 25 July 2017

I have gone and done it - All things Preserving

Invested in a pressure canner that is.  I have invested in a Presto 23qt dial gauge air vented pressure canner.  It came down to price really and although I like the look of the American Canner realistically I cannot afford one at the moment.  It may be at a later date things will change but at least I am going to have a canner to put up some of the things I want to safely.  I have been collecting all sorts of recipes on Pinterest for canning and preserving and I have a Ball Book of Canning which I bought from Lakeland plus a couple of other books I have acquired along the way.  I have purchased it through ebay and with shipping charges and import duty it works out at about £135.  So not too bad in the greater scheme of things.  I have been messing around far too long where this is concerned and I need to get going.  So I am very much looking forward to playing with this too.  I am quite excited.  Sad I am.

Today I have also bought one of the new preserving jars which are meant for fermenting items like kimchi or sauerkraut or the like.  Not sure at the moment what I am going to do with it but no doubt I will find something.

Here is a link to the items on Lakeland.

and here

Here are some recipe links as well:

I have also bought a couple of bottles in which to store my home made Raspberry vinegar.  I may buy a few more of these in due course in which to store other home made flavoured vinegars.  

I know a lot of you like preserving and some of you are new to it and others have never done anything at all but are keen to learn.  With preserving its all about having the recipes in the first place.  To start with and certainly in my case I have collected recipes and some I have not thought much off but ended up going back to during the course of time and with more experience.  So  keep your recipes.

A lot of the larger companies who provide preserving equipment online also have recipe sites as well.

Starting with Lakeland here is a link to their preserving recipes:

And there are a lot of lovely recipes there.  Two pages of very different recipes as well as some real basics.

Then there is the Kilner Jar Company.  Again a very interesting website which a recipe section.  Just make sure you save the recipes as every so often they update and change the recipes.  So print it off whilst you have the chance

Then there is the Jam Jar Shop

And the recipe site.  Their instructions for making home made mustard are particularly good and easy to follow as are the other recipes.  Butterscotch sauce.  Yum.

The Preserve Shop - has a recipe for Sloe Gin but from what I could see that was it.  It does have some lovely cookery books though most of which I have.  If interested in meat and fish curing the book Cured is a must have.

Wares of Knutsford

They also have a blog and a free newsletter.  You can download this for free and back issues.  You have to go through the process as if you were placing an order but there is no charge and then they provide confirmation and you just click on the links.   I must say everything I have purchased from them so far has been top class and reasonable on price,

There are others but I will deal with them another day

Sorry this is a bit top heavy but there is quite a lot of links etc. I have come across over the years and this is not all. There are more to go.

The above companies also provide a lot of other preserving equipment.  There sure is a different variety between them.

Right had better get a wriggle on.

Catch you soon.



Things in the Fridge and Cleaning the Fridges

What I use the Fridges to store

I have two full length fridges partly due to the fresh food I have for preserving the other one is everyday things like cheese, cold meats, fresh veggies etc.  They sit in the dining room as there is no room in the kitchen and yet there was no way that we could have an all American style version as there is no plumbing and no capacity to have one here. So I opted for the storage on the grounds that one day should I ever win the lottery then these could go in the utility room to the dream house.  Well they might not be working by then but that's what made me opt for them.  Practicality and storage for those kinds of preserves that are a little bit volatile like oil based preserves like peppers and mushrooms in oil and goats cheese or labneh or feta cubes and chilli and herb.  As I have said before once you start preserving it becomes addictive.

I always start off with good intentions with the fridge with everything nicely sorted and you can find it easily to squeezing in bits and bobs where I can.  However generally you can usually find things easily enough.  It is great for the veggies as well.

I tend to have a meat shelf, a cheese shelf and cooked meats shelf and sauces and things like that as well as keeping the fruit and veggies in for the preserving.  

I have bought Olive Oil today; not the virgin type as I only ever use that for dressing food.  I may well get some more tomorrow as I have in mind to make a selection of herb oils from the herbs in the garden; however they will store in the fridge as oil is and can be very volatile.  It can go off very quickly so it is best to make in small amounts.  I have heard a lot about fresh herbs causing a problem with the oil and possibly botulism.  However this article here may explain that a little more and offer a way of preparing home made oils safely.  However home made oils are really only for short term storage.

Cleaning the Fridges

With it being scrub out kitchen time the fridges get cleaned thoroughly when I am going through.  Yesterday I managed to get one of the fridges sorted the other one is destined to be dealt with tonight.  I use lemon juice and hot water to clean the fridge.  It has glass shelves so they always get a  good nice hot wash and then I dry down with paper towels as it brings the glass up smear free.  I also keep a cut lemon in the fridge to keep it nice smelling.  The outside of the fridge is cleaned with Dettol wipes and then polished up.  I also use the Dettol wipes on the door handles through the house as well. So lots of hot water, some elbow grease and lemon is how I clean the fridges out.  They do come up quite well.

I have the second fridge to deal with tonight after my tea which is sea bream.  We have not had this before so will see if I like.

Right upwards and onwards.

Catch you soon.



How do I use it now that I have made it.

Everyone that I know loves Elderflower Cordial.  It is something that I make year in year out.  However lots of people just drink it when it can be used to flavour other dishes like a fruit salad, used as a sauce on vanilla ice cream, to make a sorbet, make a version of Elderflower Turkish Delight etc. 

A lot of people will not attempt to preserve things because they don't really know how to use the finished product.  Really there are not many wrong ways to use a preserve and sometimes it is a question of experimentation and finding what works for you.  Like Mint sauce or Mint jelly; my OH eats this with absolutely anything.  We are brought up with a rule book of what goes with what but sometimes rules were meant to be broken and its a  matter of finding out what goes with what.

The recipe comes from a series of books by Dick and James Strawbridge entitled "Made at Home Preserves".  I have given the ISBN number previously.

During the autumn months there are usually a lot of pears about and elderflower cordial with poached pears and syllabub makes a lovely light pudding which has hints of summer about it which for me is what a preserve is about because you are saving preserves from different seasons of the year.


Serves 4

For the Poached Pears:

4 Conference or other firm pears
8 fl oz/250ml elderflower cordial
8 fl oz/250ml water
Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
4 mint sprigs to decorate

For the Syllabub

8 fl oz/250ml Double Cream
3 tablespoons of elderflower liqueur (you can substitute the cordial if you want to)


Peel the pears leaving their stalks on and position them into a saucepan cover with the cordial.  They should fit quite closely/tightly in the pan.  Cover with the cordial and lemon juice.  Pop on a lid and simmer for approximately 10 to 12 minutes until the pears go soft.  Turning them a couple of times during the cooking so that they are cooked evenly but be careful not to dent or damage them.

When the pears are cooked transfer them to a plate and keep them in a warm place.  Boil the liquor and reduce it to a thin syrup

To make the Syllabub:

Whip the cream into soft peaks and fold in the elderflower liqueur/cordial.  Put into a small bowl and drizzle a little of the pear syrup on the top of the syllabub.

To serve: 

place each pear on a plate glazed with a little of the syrup top with a mint sprig and serve with a spoonful of the syllabub.



Something for the Pantry Shelf - Elderberry and Blackberry Cordial

With the Blackberries and the Elderberries soon being in full swing I have been looking around for different recipes to try rather than the same familiar ones that I use year in year out. Cordials can be used for a drink with water or fizzy water or as a Kir type drink with the addition of some fizzy wine or a champagne (I am thinking Christmas here or any family celebration) and if you make a series of different fruit flavoured cordials you are giving yourself an awful lot of choice for now and over the winter months.  Cordials can also be used as additions to a fruit salad or indeed poured over ice cream as a sauce or through yogurt or cream to create a ripple and then frozen in a mould, cut into slices and you have a ripple ice cream in its purest sense.

I have come across this recipe which will make use of whatever wild harvest of elderberries and blackberries and give a vitamin c boost especially if you have a cold.  I have not made this recipe before but it will be made once the wild harvest is in full swing locally but I have found from past experience that elderberries can be a little tart for modern tastes although I think with the addition of the blackberries this will give a richer and sweeter cordial.  Elderberry jelly is a good one to add to stews and gravies and I also use it in combination with other ingredients like home made Chinese Stir Fry sauce to make a sauce for racks of baby ribs.  Yummy.

This recipe as do a lot of my cordial recipes use citric acid.  I buy this from my local Asian shop in bulk when they have it in - it soon goes off the shelf again. and often I do not see it for a few weeks usually when I need it so I do tend to stockpile on this. Citric acid is also good at stopping fruits like pears and peaches oxidising and spoiling not good when you are trying to prepare a preserve like peach or pears in syrup as you want the fruit to look the best that it can in the jar as if it looks good you want to eat it.  However I also hot water bath my cordials to make their shelf life a lot longer.  I use a baby bottle steriliser for this purpose as it is ideal for processing smaller bottles (I use the Hex sauce bottles)

and I buy them in bulk from C Wynne Jones they sell a lot of goods and here is the main link

for you to have a look around their site.  They sell many other things besides including beekeeping equipment.  Bear in mind that there is postage to go on top of this as well.  Please note that I do not have any links with this company apart from purchasing said bottles and this is done freely of my own will.

Right back to the recipe:

When making this recipe please wear appropriate apron as the elderberry and the blackberry juice stains rather badly. So proceed carefully.

Makes about 1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints)


8oz/250g Elderberries
8oz/250g Blackberries
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon of citric acid (optional)


Place the berries into a pan with 5 fl oz of water/150ml and set over a low heat for 5 or so minutes which allows the juice to run from the berries.  Cool and then mash with a potato masher or with the back of a spoon.  Strain through a jelly bag or a sieve lined with muslin.  Measure the juice and pop back into the pan adding an equal amount of sugar to the juice i.e. if 8 floz of juice then add 8 oz of sugar.  Add the lemon juice and cinnamon stick and bring to a rolling boil, boiling for two minutes.  Skim off any scum.  Pour into warm sterilised bottles and seal.  At this point I place my bottles into the baby steriliser bring to the boil and then process for about 15 to 20 minutes then switch off and allow the bottles to cool in the steriliser if at all possible.  Otherwise fish them out with appropriate equipment let the steriliser cool a little before going on to the next batch of cordials or sauces. 

Use liberally and enjoy.

Now that's another one for the pantry shelf.

Catch you soon. 

Pattypan x

Monday, 24 July 2017

Time to start putting stuff away seriously

This cold wet weather just reinforces to me how much food we should be squirrelling away on our pantry shelves or cupboard or store whatever is available to you at this point in time.  It also makes me keen to get the last remaining expensive piece of equipment for my preserving cupboard and that is a canner.  My thinking is that if I can spend time putting useful items of food up on the pantry shelf like soups, canned meat and fish etc. It will save me more time during the week with cooking but also not losing that home cooked element.  Preparing my own convenience foods as it were.

I am slowly attending to pasta sauce each week buying vine tomatoes until and when my own crop of tomatoes are ready so that is well in hand.  I also want to put some tomatoes up in brine as well as make Salsa as well as Tomato juice to use in Bloody Mary's and tomato ketchup but I do need the canner for that.   However to go with the Bloody Mary's I need chilli vodka.

So far I have had four cucumbers off my little cucumber plant.  However I always pickle cucumber so my four small cucumbers may get turned into a pot of pickle.

We are slowly very slowly slipping imperceptibly into the autumn months.  The blackberries and elderberries are starting to show and soon the Victoria plums will be ready - I have already seen greengages in the supermarkets so the plum season is nearly upon us.

Thoughts of plum jelly, plum chutney, Hoisin sauce, Chinese stir fry sauce plum jam and its variants with other fruits, plum Vodka, plum cordial, plum wine are all good hearty preserves to keep on the pantry shelf.  There is also of course the option of bottling the fruits in syrup to pop into a pie or crumble.  I still remember my Nan's plum pie where the whole plums used to stand proud of the pastry so you would see the outline of the plum through the pastry and it would look all nobbly. 

It also brings to mind the rhyme, little Jack Horner sat in his corner eating his Christmas pie he put in his thumb and pulled out a plum and said what a good boy am I.

So the plum like the apple is a pretty versatile fruit.  If you do a couple of bottles of plums in syrup then they can be transformed into the old fashioned sugar plums just before Christmas by drying in the oven and coated with lots of sugar.  I assume that you would be able to do this with a dehydrator also.  I think I have posted a recipe on how to do these further back on the blog.

My grandparents had plum trees the majority of which were Victoria plums.  The other variety they had was a jet black plum with lovely golden flesh which my Grandfather referred to as Black Diamond. There was also one solitary golden gage tree which never produced fruit in all the time Nan had it but the year in which she passed it produced a magnificent harvest.

I also want to get some fruits set in spirit and in particular I am thinking of  apricots/peaches in amaretto or an apricot/peach and amaretto jam.  I made some of this the other year and it was nice but I think I put too much amaretto in so please do not be tempted to put in more than is necessary.  Plain Apricot jam/conserve is also delightful with croissants in a morning but I always make it as I use it sieved on my Christmas cake to hold the marzipan down and then there is Apricot chutney one made with fresh and other with dried.  I also want to have a go at drying my own Apricots.

I have pears to put down in syrup but also to make chocolate and pear jam.  I have posted the recipe previously for this.  The Co-op round the corner from where I live have changed their cooking chocolate from a very decent quality to one that is passable but I wanted a good bitter chocolate for this recipe and I managed to get this yesterday when I went to Mr Ts.  I also aim to make some pear and ginger.

I also need to make my annual batch of piccalilli otherwise OH will never forgive me.

In the next few weeks I hope to take advantage of the blackberry and elderberry crops and put up elderberry jelly, bramble jelly, pontack sauce, elderberry wine and to try a blackberry and elderberry cordial and of course for colds there is always Elderberry Rob.

I am also hoping to dry some of my own fruits for using in my Christmas cakes later on in the year.  Red and Green grapes are readily available at the moment and I also fancy having a go at making my own grape wine using the foot pounding method.  It will create a laugh if nothing else.

I also have some apples to turn into apple sauce, bottled apples, apple chutney and hopefully some apple juice and cider and maybe some perry as well.

I am also hoping to locate sloes for sloe gin, wild bullace plums and damsons. I have a recipe for wild plum sweetmeats which essentially is a paste like membrillo.  I also want to make some wild blackberry gin as well.

So there is a lot to do over the coming weeks/months.

Is there anything that you are going to put up, are you a beginner are you going to dip your toe in the water or are you an experienced preserver.  Would be lovely to hear what you are going to squirrel away for future use during the winter months.  Years ago it was really necessary to do this as you only survived the winter months if you had a good store of things in your pantry and kept the wolf from the door.  These days I think preserving still has its place as it gives you so many more options of things to make and new tastes to experience.

Would love to hear from you.

Catch you soon.


I already know where there are some crab apples.  Crab apple jelly is a staple in this household as we use it with Roast pork and other cold meats.  I make it plain and spiced.

The rosehips are starting to form and I have my eye on them also.  They are still green at the moment but I have recipes for a vinegar, rosehip syrup,  a marmalade, a rosehip wine recipe, to dry them whole for using in wine and also to deseed them to make my own vitamin c powder for adding to milk shakes, and granola to make sure that I keep the colds as much at bay as I can during the winter months.

Later on of course I will prepare a few bottles of raisins in rum and yellow sultanas in brandy as well as nuts in honey for use on ice creams, and with soft cheeses like a goats cheese or brie

Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)