As we move into autumn, there is always an abundance of fruit and vegetables left over from the hot summer months on the farm. At the Cookery School we are passionate about making the most of the glorious fruits and vegetables from our own Market Garden and ensuring nothing goes to waste. The time-honoured art of preserving gives us many tried-and-tested ways of extending the lives of these ingredients. Investing time now, at the height of the season of plenty, to prepare simple yet effective preserving recipes means you will be able to enjoy them again and again throughout the seasonal calendar in a variety of ways.
There are different ways to preserve the bounty of harvest time. We have listed below ways these different methods can be applied in your own cooking, along with some ideas for preserving ingredients at their best and most plentiful now.
Preserving in alcohol, oil, honey or vinegar is perhaps the quickest and easiest way to prolong the autumn bounty. All you need to do is pile your chosen fruits, herbs or flowers into a sterilized jar or bottle and cover with your chosen preserving medium – sugars, chili and garlic as necessary too.
900g damsons, washed and pricked
all over with a pin
1.5 litres Daylesford gin
Divide the damsons and sugar equally between jars and cover with the gin. Store in a dry
place turning the jars regularly until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to infuse for 2-3 months before straining and bottling. Enjoying as a tipple on n a cold winter’s day or use a splash to cook with game.
Why not try
Roast tomatoes preserved in olive oil with garlic and thyme. Fresh figs or autumn raspberries submerged in a jar of honey. Balsamic vinegar infused with blackberries and star anise.
A much-loved technique at the Cookery School, our jars of ferments adorn our shelves. But how does fermentation work? All fruit and vegetables contain beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus. When combined with other flavourful ingredients in an oxygen-free environment, lactobacillus will convert sugars into lactic acid – this in turn inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria, thus acting as a preservative.
Why not try
Green kimchi with chili and lime (find the recipe here).
An age-old and wonderfully simple technique, drying is a method of preserving not to be overlooked. Simply harness the warmth of the sun, a radiator, low oven or dehydrator to remove any moisture from your chosen ingredients.
Dried autumn mushrooms:
250g mushrooms such as chanterelles, ceps or field mushrooms
2 tsps finely chopped herbs such as thyme or rosemary
Thinly slice the mushrooms and lay out on a baking tray. Scatter with the herbs and leave to dehydrate in a warm, dry place for 4-5 days. Alternatively, pre-heat the oven to 100ºC and bake in the oven for 1 hour, turning as they dry. Turn off the oven and leave to cool completely before removing the mushrooms. Store in a jar or paper bag as they are to cook with risotto and
casseroles, or grind to a coarse dust with a little seasoning to sprinkle over pasta or hearty stews with polenta.
Why not try
Thinly sliced apples, pears or tomatoes – dry as they are. Season sliced beetroot, carrots or aubergine before drying until crisp as a healthful snack, base for a canapé or a crunchy topping
If you are interested in finding out more about preserving and fermentation techniques, why not join us for The Complete Larder where you will learn how to make the most of seasonal gluts and create some interesting larder items for you to take home and enjoy.