Monday, February 4, 2013

Winter Preserving Workshop

Before Christmas I went on a festive bread making course run by Anna, otherwise known as the Culinary Anthropologist. I enjoyed the course so much that I immediately signed up for another. I attended the Winter Preserving Workshop today and have come back laden with lots of delicious goodies and new ideas. The workshop is one of a series, the others being Spring, Summer and Autumn, and they are run in conjunction with Riverford who you may well of heard of, as they deliver beautiful veg boxes, meat and dairy straight to your door.

Kate from at What Kate Baked recently reported that according to Stylist Magazine, 2013 is to be the year of preserving and it seems that it may be so. There has been much talk of marmalade on twitter and plenty of recipes in the food magazines. So although I can't share with you the recipes here, I thought I would share the top tips I learnt from the course. However, if you are looking for a recipe, one lady on the course recommended Nigel Slater's recipe!

Here's what we made on the course:

1. Seville Orange Marmalade
  • The oranges are boiled first to soften the rind which is then sliced, you can choose your favourite, fine or thick shread!
  • Sevilles only have a short season...and it's why not make up a batch of marmalade and then save it until next Christmas and give it out as Christmas presents. By then it will taste great!

2. Moroccan Preserved Lemons
  • The lemons are preserved using a lacto-fermentation process.
  • Once ready the lemons are great in dishes such as Morrocan tagines. We enjoyed them in a chickpea salad at lunchtime.

3. Spiced Pickled Oranges

  • This has white granulated sugar and light brown sugar in, along with white wine vinegar.
  • Goes well with meats.

4. Clementine Jam
  • We tested a sample of this jam at the beginning of the day and it had a lovely bright colour and tasted delicious.
  • This is ridiculously easy to make, it just involves blitzing quartered clementines in a food processor, adding the sugar and then leaving it overnight. It's boiled for a short period of time and then jarred. So simple and yet so tasty...amazing!
  • You can also make this one with Tangerines and Satsumas.

5. Blood Orange and Port Jelly

  • This was a lovely clear liquid which was strained using the jelly strainer you can see above...a nifty bit of kit.
  • If you don't have a jelly strainer, line a large bowl with muslin and pour in the liquid and solids. Tie the muslin together at the top tightly and then hang it over a bowl so that all the liquid drips out. This can take some time.

  • This is a lovely recipe that goes really well with gammon, game and cheese.

How to tell if your preserve has set:
  • The mixture will start to give off less steam as it turns syrupy and the bubbles will also appear less watery.
  • You will see a visible change in the mixture and the bubbles will start to rise up the pan.
  • You can try the 'Flake Test' which could really be called the blob test - put a wooden spoon into the mixture and then hold it up so the mixture runs off. It is ready when the last few drops hang on the spoon and then drop off in a blob rather than run off (sorry not a very technical explanation!)
  • Finally, the 'Wrinkle Test' - when you think the marmalade might be ready put about half a teaspoon on a chilled saucer. Leave it for a minute or two and then push your index finger through the marmalade, if it wrinkles up and leaves a clean area where you swiped your finger through then it is ready, if not then keep going! The picture below show marmalade that isn't ready!
  • Finally, if you want to be technical you can use a sugar thermometre where the setting point is 104.2 degrees.

Some top tips:
  • When filling the jars you can use a jam funnel to prevent spills.
  • Putting lemon juice in the marmalade helps it to set as it is high in pectin and apparently it keeps the colour bright. Most recipes should include the lemon juice.
  • To steralise the jars wash them thoroughly and put them on a baking tray which then goes in the oven, switch on the oven and heat to 140 degrees. They should be in the oven for at least 10 minutes but it is probably best to just leave them in there until you need them.
  • To steralise lids you can either boil them in a saucepan for 10 minutes or it's actually easier to place the lid straight on the jar when ready, tighten and turn it upside down for a little while which will also steralise.
  • When filling the jars, use two jugs, one for pouring into the jars and a filling jug to transfer the marmalade to the pouring jug. This prevents mess, you can also hang your filling jug on the edge of your preserving pan when you're not using it.
  • Fill your jars to the top to try and eliminate air.
  • Always put a date on your preserves so you know when it was made and when it will be good until.
  • Finally, you may find a scum forms on top of your marmalade as it boils. You can either skim this off the top or towards the end add a small knob of butter which will dissipate the scum. Although, don't add too much as you may flavour the marmalade.

Some useful items for making jam and marmalade:

3. Sugar thermometre (if using)
4. Jars/Clip Top Kilner Jars (maybe essential rather than useful, it could be rather messy otherwise ;-)

5. Labels - The labels for our preserves were hand-drawn but a lady who had previously attended the course but if you want to make your own, here are some sites that you could try: The Jam Labelizer, HW Desgins, Lakeland or the Preserve Shop.

Most of these links take you to Lakeland but obviously lots of other companies offer everything you need for preserving.

Did you know?
  • In order to call your jam, jam it has to contain at least 60% sugar! Our European counterparts have less sugar in their jam as they take advantage of a loophole in EU legistlation.

Finally, you may be interested in this article from the Guardian on 'How to Make the Perfect Marmalade' and if you've been inspired to try making marmalade then Riverford offer a Marmalade Kit with all the lovely fruits that you'll need, along with a recipe. They also offer a number of other kits using seasonal fruit throughout the year. Interestingly, I saw a marmalade kit in Tesco's the other day too!
Once you've mastered the basics, why not be more adventurous. For example, we tried Bergamot Orange Marmalade when we arrived for our course, it had a distinct flavour of Earl Grey. You can also add alcohol such as Cointreau. Then once you're feeling really flash you can enter into the Dalemain Marmalade Awards which are held annually.

This is a rather information heavy post, so I hope you're still with me but here's one last lady asked what is the difference between jam and marmalade and a conserve and a preserve? I'd love to know your thoughts on this one! I'm by no means a preserving expert, in fact quite the opposite, so any other hints and tips would also be gratefully received :-)


  1. Thanks for sharing all of these great tips! I definitely want to try canning my own preserves :)

    Happy Valley Chow

  2. This workshop seems fun! I love homemade jams and preserve. They are simply unbeatable comparing to the commercial ones.

  3. It looks like you had a really good day. Jam is definitely something I want to try this year, and I have my eye on a bread and preserves course. It'd be lovely to just make my own. I don't know the difference between the three kinds (other than in my experience a 'conserve' is £ more expensive than a jam), but something about the fruit content is ringing at the back if my head? May be wrong. Either way, there is nothing like hot toast spread with something you've made yourself! :)

  4. What a great day! Looks like you'll be in preverves for ages.

  5. Wow you have done well here! Your preserves must taste great!

  6. What a lovely workshop! Funnily enough I've recently made blood orange and port marmalade as I had lots of blood oranges delivered by my Riverford vegman!

  7. Wow, great post and brilliant tips! Looks like a great course. I've been wanting to try jams and preseves this year and have started to get some bits and bobs together, but I've always thought it was a bit 'faffy' - these tips definitely help!

  8. Sounds like you learnt loads Laura and you've given some really useful tips. I've made preserved lemons a few times, but I made my first ever marmalade just before Christmas - it was lemon.

  9. Susie - you should definitely give it a go and I love the sound of your blood orange and port marmalade Rachel. Choclette I'd love to try making lemon marmalade.

    Have also just found this which may shed light on the conserve/preserve question:

    Sweet, spreadable fruit preserves take many forms. Here is a description of the most common names:

    Conserve — Small pieces or whole small fruit uniformly distributed in a thick sauce.

    Jam — Crushed fruit cooked with or without sugar and pectin.

    Jelly — Fruit juice cooked with or without sugar and pectin.

    Marmalade — Citrus peel cooked with fruit juice and sugar.

    Preserves — Small or whole pieces of fruit uniformly distributed in a thick sauce.

    Spreadable Fruit — Soft, jam-like consistency with reduced sugar content.

  10. The above would make it seem that there is no difference between a conserve or preserve...perhaps it's just in the name...although I've just found this definition too!

    Preserve: Chopped or whole fruit cooked with sugar until a syrupy base able to suspend the fruit chunks develops.

    Conserve: A preserve made with more than one fruit, often including raisins and nuts. Sometimes a conserve refers to a more thickly-stewed preserve.


Your comments are greatly appreciated!