While you might think preserving is the domain of grandmothers and stay-at-home moms, the lost-art of making your own jams and chutney, is making a huge comeback. This method of preserving food in airtight containers, so they can be stored at room temperature is based on an age-old practice used before the joys of refrigeration. Even though you can easily pop to the store for a jar of preserves, there’s nothing like cracking open a jar of homemade jam, chutney, or even Kimchi to share with your friends and family.
The freedom of being able to make, and preserve all your favourite things at home is addictive and once you start preserving you won’t be able to stop making your own salsas, pickles, jams, sauces, and more. Perhaps the best thing about preserving is that you have ages to consume your delicious creations because when done properly, your jar of delicious preserved goodness should be able to last in your cupboard for up to a year! This is great news for anyone who loves preserves but wants an alternative to the often artificial preservative-laden options available at local grocery stores.
But how do you get into this lost art of cooking? The good news is, it’s a lot easier than you think. The key to easy at-home preserving is investing in good preserving jars. These jars allow you to use the boiling water method or refrigerator method to preserve food. Using these methods, the ingredients are prepared and loaded into jars with special lids that allow steam to escape. For the boiling method, the jars are heated and as they cool, the food contracts and creates an airtight seal that preserves the contents for up to a year. For the refrigerator method, food is transferred to containers and refrigerated in an airtight container to preserve food for a few weeks.
The boiling method can be used to preserve all sorts of acidic foods — think fruit jams and jellies, salsas, tomatoes, and vegetables that have been made more acidic with the addition of vinegar, lemon juice, or citric acid. To get started at home all you need is a good recipe, preserving jars with two-part lids (a flat lid with a rubberised gasket and a ring to hold it in place), a stock pot at least 8cm taller than your jars, a pair of rubberised tongs (for lifting jars out of the boiling water), and a cooling rack to raise jars off the bottom of the pot.
The refrigeration method is a lot easier for beginners and doesn’t require much equipment, except for the preserving jars. To get started, follow this easy recipe to make your own Blueberry jam at home using the refrigeration method. The jam will last for up to 1 month in the fridge or up to 1 year in the freezer.
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