Conserve and preserve

Conserving and preserving is a great way to reduce your waste and increase the taste of your food, as homemade is so much better.

There are many terms for preserve recipes, including jam, jelly, and marmalade. Preserves refer to a variety of fruit spreads that usually contain both the juice and pulp of the fruit with generous amounts of natural syrup. Some preserve recipes may contain seeds, depending on the cook’s preference. Conserve is an older term for preserves, although either word may be used to describe specific types of fruit spreads. Be aware that while both jam and jelly may be types of preserves, they are not identical. Originally, only fruits high in pectin and natural sugars could be used for preserve recipes since other fruits would not solidify into a consistent product. Strawberry and raspberry are consistent favourites for preserves, and many people enjoy mixing different types of fruits to create multi-flavour preserves as well.

Today, many types of fruits can be used, including: Grapes, Guava, Limes, Peaches, Cherries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Apples, Tomatoes, Rhubarb, Watermelon, Oranges, Pear, Pineapple. Because preserve recipes can vary depending on the type of fruit, when it is picked, how ripe it is, and other hard-to-determine factors, careful attention must be paid to each ingredient while cooking to maintain the necessary balance for the best flavour, colour, and texture. In fact, many cooks rely on a certain amount of intuition to create each recipe.

When cooking, choose a dry, cool day and use only the best fruits. Jars should be sealed promptly and tightly, allowing for months of storage without spoilage. Properly cooked, these fruity treats can provide sweet spreads for toast, bagels, and other foods long after the fruit trees and bushes have dropped their leaves for winter. You do need to learn some basic rules to prevent contamination however, since food poisoning can be lethal.

Early in 2010, Lismore City Council staff was appealing to residents to avoid filling their wheelie bins with excess mangoes since it made them so heavy the waste truck couldn’t pick them up. The Mayor of Lismore, Jenny Dowell gave away her prize winning mango chutney recipe to help.

So, in the spirit of the Lismore Mayor, we’ve put together some ideas about how you can preserve your bumper harvests rather than sending them to the tip or how you can take advantage of excellent value for money on seasonal food at retail stores and markets.

Apart from freezing, preserving chutneys, jams and marmalades is probably the easiest, though jars still need to be sterilised (see below).  If you want to start making cheese, yoghurt or bottling sauces, see the step by step guides at preserving Australia website – http://www.preserving-australia.com.au/

Sterilising jars for jams and marmalade.

  1. Wash jars and lids in very hot, soapy water. Rinse well. Place jars and lids in a deep saucepan. Cover with cold water and put a lid on the pan.
  2. Bring water to the boil then reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes Preheat oven to 110°C.
  3. Remove jars and lids from boiling water with metal tongs (carefully so you don’t burn your hands). Place the jars and lid upside down on a tray in your preheated oven and heat for 15 minutes. You can then turn off the oven and leave your jars in the warm oven while you make your jam. Bottle hot jam into the still hot jars and seal.

Sustain Food - conserve