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Tips and tricks - bottling, canning, preserving
Sun 27-Sep-09
7:19 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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We want to hear your simple tips and tricks to make the process of preserving easier or better. You will help everybody, and perhaps especially newbies, if you take a few minutes to tell us about your methods.

Never knowingly underfed

Mon 28-Sep-09
10:15 am
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Two tips that popped up this week:

Lay newspaper under your jars when pouring in the mixture

This came from Fiona’s mum and is such a simple idea because any mess is cleared up in seconds

Make your own preserving funnel

I had never heard of these until this week. Fiona bought one and blogged about it. These comments gave us some ideas. Too late to return it, I fear.

Cherry discovered this:

I found a wonderful trick ~ the dishwasher came with a plastic funnel for adding the salt crystals …… hey presto, it fits over most of the standard jam jars a treat and makes filling them with hot jam a real easy task! No purchase ~ one item does two jobs!!

Alison has a DIY version:

We use the top half of a 2 litre plastic milk bottle – just cut around the bottle about half way down with a pair of kitchen scissors. They have no problem with the heat, either of jam or the dishwasher afterwards, and they’re super easy to replace when you need to. Our soup ladle fits in the wide bit perfectly, and you’ve got a nice wide hole on the jar end.

Never knowingly underfed

Mon 28-Sep-09
10:53 pm
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KateUK
uk

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Always lick out the preserving saucepan thoroughly before washing it up. Likewaise the saucer on which you have tested the jam for setting. And the lovely new jam funnel. And the spoon.

This guarantees quality control.

Kateuk makes things at http://www.etsy.com/shop/finkstuff and sometimes she does this too http://www54paintings.blogspot.com/ and also this http://finkstuff.weebly.com/

Fri 2-Oct-09
2:15 pm
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raenbow
Portugal

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Add a tablespoon of butter to  jam mix when you add the sugar, it will stop scum building up on it!

Fri 2-Oct-09
6:29 pm
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Danny
Scarborough, England
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Kate - this forum would be a shrivelled dead thing without your indispensable depth of knowledge and unbounded generosity in sharing it with us Laugh 

That is a fascinating contribution, raenbow - I wonder if it the addition of fats or oils that naturally stays on the surface. The small boy in me is wondering at a scientific explanation but I never heard that tip before. Thanks.

All you experienced chutney makers know this but it cropped up in an enquiry this week:

You must use metal lids for chutney. Cello seals like you use for jam will just dissolve because of the acid fumes from the vinegar.

Never knowingly underfed

Sat 3-Oct-09
7:25 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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I think I might have mentioned this before but I make most of my jam in small amounts in the microwave.

Cook fruit first then add sugar at 1lb of sugar to 1lb fruit ratio as normal
Cook until the sugar has dissolved
Cook for 2.5-3 mins
Stir
Cook for further 2.5-3 mins

Seems to work for me. I used to have a lot of fruit in the freezer from my Mum and it saved me having to make a load of jam all at once which would have been a nightmare with three kids. Now it is easier because there is only two of us -well most of the time.

I also rinse my glass dish which I made the jam out with boiling water to make a lovely fruity hot drink.

Sun 4-Oct-09
10:51 pm
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KateUK
uk

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Tue 22-Sep-09
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I have only ever used the same cellophane jam tops for my chutney as I use for my jam. Never had a problem, even with chutney that is over a year old. Does dry out a bit, but that's all...

Kateuk makes things at http://www.etsy.com/shop/finkstuff and sometimes she does this too http://www54paintings.blogspot.com/ and also this http://finkstuff.weebly.com/

Mon 5-Oct-09
8:25 am
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fn
Newmarket
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I have only ever used the same cellophane jam tops for my chutney as I use for my jam. Never had a problem, even with chutney that is over a year old. Does dry out a bit, but that's all…

Wow Kate - thanks for the tip. I've always used metal lids. With chutney that we get through very quickly I might use cellophane lids next time. The great thing about metal lids is that the chutney can mature happily for years without drying out.

Tue 6-Oct-09
9:26 pm
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KateUK
uk

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And there was me wandering about all day thinking " oh crumbs has the cellophane been dissolving and turning my chutney into something full of vile chemicals all these years without me realising and every chutney sarnie has just brought me nearer to a painful death?".

I think metal lids are probably very good if you are storing the chutney for a long time ( doesn't happen in this household) or in a slightly damp atmosphere. I tend to make just about enough chutney to see us through to the next chutney season- after a while you get to know just how much you can eat in a year! If we run out, I just make some banana chutney, a very good " all year round" stand-by and one that never stays in the cupboard for long.

Kateuk makes things at http://www.etsy.com/shop/finkstuff and sometimes she does this too http://www54paintings.blogspot.com/ and also this http://finkstuff.weebly.com/

Sun 11-Oct-09
2:33 pm
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Suky
Godalming, Surrey

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Use 2nd hand jars.  I collect jars wherever I can and am not above asking my local chippy to save some of the large pickle jars they have.  I also have a sign on the notice board at work, I make sure everyone knows what I need.  In exchange I always donate some (filled) to the cake and produce sales for charity.

I frequently make batches of pasta sauce in my slow cooker and use the 'pop' type of jar lid.  It is very satisfying when the button 'pops' down.  I also use them for chutney and pickle.

If you don't have enough produce of your own try asking locally or on Freecycle for any surplus.  This year I was given plums and apples and left jars of jam and chutney in exchange. 

Mon 12-Oct-09
11:27 am
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Amanda
Mid-Devon

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I'm a confirmed second hand jar user as well - my "jars and bottles needed" poster always goes up at work at this time of year and it's amazing how many can be ferreted out if the donors are promised that one or two will be filled with chutney, jam or jelly and returned!

A word of warning though: Only use plastic-coated metal lids for chutney as vinegar reacts with metal and can corrode it.

Fri 16-Oct-09
7:17 am
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extownie

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Sat 10-Oct-09
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Help - my youngest son (known as bushcraft boy to his mates) decided we should grow scotch bonnet peppers which grandma duly did. From one plant we now have a huge crop. Question - how can we store/preserve them?

Fri 16-Oct-09
8:13 am
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shelley
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We have had the same issues with our chilli peppers. We are lucky here in Toulouse , France as it has been warm enough to air dry our chillis (I threaded them onto a thread and hung them up outside to dry - 3 weeks on I have super dried chillis!)
However I think you could do the same in the uk in the oven; place them on a wire grill with a tray below in the oven on the absolutely lowest setting overnight; they should then be dry and can be stored in jars indefinitely

the river cottage handbook describes drying tomatoes in this way;so I imagine it would work

Fri 16-Oct-09
6:45 pm
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extownie

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Thanks for that Shelley - I'll give it a go. Took some into work today to an Indian colleague - in return I was presented with a curry his wife had made with some I gave him a few days ago- hot but tasty!

Fri 16-Oct-09
8:42 pm
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David B

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Sounds like a job ideal for one of those dehydrators we were talking about on another thread.

A publican I knew once used to put a chilli into a bottle of vodka in around September or October, and treat favoured customers to a tot at Xmas.

Warming!!!

David

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