Preserving: Quick tips
My aunty Dianne loves to pickle, and chutney, and jam, and relish, and sauce, and even drizzle! Describing it as “the ultimate hobby,” her preserves are a reflection of the garden’s seasonal bounty.
Dianne and husband Ken started preserving when they moved into their own home. They discovered they couldn’t live without their respective mother's pickles and Dianne “had to do something with all the peaches and Chinese gooseberries in the backyard!”
Unsurprisingly, both their mothers’ cauliflower pickle and green tomato relish are still firm family favourites, along with a more recent kasundi, and a spicy brinjal. “They love anything with eggplant in it,” says Dianne, “but not raisins, men just pick around raisins.”
Here are Dianne's top preserving tips
Less is more
Most preserve recipes overdo it with the sugar and vinegar. Experiment with less by starting off with half the amount. You can always add more, it’s harder to take it away.
Experiment with jam sugar. The added pectin in it serves as a thickening agent, allowing you to use much less sugar, and speeding up the process to get to a “set” preserve.
Salting vegetables for 2-3 hours (or overnight) will remove excess moisture and keep your pickles crunchy. No one likes a runny relish.
Add a little spice
Older recipes tend towards the bland. We like ours a little spicier, so be brave and modernise your recipes with different flavour and taste combinations.
Storing chutneys for up to three months will enhance the flavours, and most will keep well beyond six months, if preserved and sealed correctly.