Lockdown Recipe


Spicy Bean Burgers

This tasty recipe should help you through the lock-down, particularly well with a slice of strong cheese and rich tomato ketchup or chutney. 

Makes eight normal sized burgers or four whoppers. 

  • One medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tins kidney beans (or Borlotti or Cannellini)
  • 1-2 carrots – parboiled, then cooled and diced
  • 1 Large egg
  • Breadcrumbs – equivalent to 2 slices  of bread
  • One small chilli pepper - finely sliced 
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Finely chopped coriander leaves
  • Pinch cumin seeds (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste 


Fry the onions until soft in a little oil or butter and allow to cool.

Drain the kidney beans well and mash them thoroughly, but leaving some of the beans partially intact.

Mix with all of the other ingredients and form into patties. Fry in cooking oil or barbecue just like beef burgers. 

May Recipes


Crumble Mixture for Fruit

The key to good crumble mix is the ratio of flour to sugar/butter. This recipe will provide four generous portions, but just adjust the amounts in the same ratio for more people (or bigger portions!)

  • 100g (4oz.) plain flour, 
  • 50g (2oz.) salted butter 
  • 50g (2 oz.) sugar (white, brown, golden, or demerara)
  • pinch ground cinnamon (optional)
  • handful finely finely chopped walnuts

Use your hands to rub the flour and butter together until they form a 'breadcrumb' like mixture. Combine with sugar (and chopped walnuts/cinnamon if used) 

Spread over the fruit mixture - some sweetened rhubarb with crystallised ginger is perfect at this time of year but, in summer, can be replaced by sweetened damsons or plums with mixed spice then, in autumn, apples or pears with dates.

Bake in a heated oven at 200degC for about an hour, but check at five minute intervals after around forty minutes - the top should be golden brown and the fruit syrup should bubble up around the edge of the dish.


Spinach and Bacon Salad

Fresh greens complemented by salty bacon and crunchy bread A meal for two or side dish for four to six...

  • one good handful of baby spinach leafs
  • 100g (4oz.) smoked streaky bacon
  • 2 slices white bread (thick cut sourdough is ideal)
  • 2-3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider or white whine vinegar
  • Seasoning (salt/ground black pepper)

Wash and dry the spinach leaves.and put in a large bowl.

 Cut the bacon into small strips and gently cook with a little olive oil in a frying pan until the white fat turns golden. Remove the bacon and allow to cool. 

Meanwhile cut the bread int o cubes and fry in bacon fat/olive oil (add more olive oil if the bread absorbs it and the pan goes dry) until they turn golden brown Turn off the pan.

Dress the spinach leaves with the vinegar and seasoning. Stir in the bacon slices and sprinkle the bread cubes/croutons over the top.

April Recipes

Rhubarb Vodka 

A quick and easy way to preserve any surplus rhubarb. Delicious on its own or mixed with lemonade or a sparkling wine.

Ingredients (the exact proportions don't matter, so you can add adjust the relative amount of fruit and sugar to suit your own taste):

  • 500g (1lb) of rhubarb
  • 500g (1lb) of sugar
  • 1 litre of vodka 
  • 2-3 vanilla pods (optional, but worth the effort!)

Simply soak all of the ingredients and store in a cool dark place. I use 2 litre kilner jars, but any air-tight container will do. Initially the liquid will need inverting or gentle stirring every day or two to stop the sugar from setting. It is ready to bottle (or drink!) after 3-4 weeks - when the liquid turns a pale shade of pink and the rhubarb turns a pale brown/green colour. 

You can leave it for much longer (up to a year) and the rhubarb taste becomes more pronounced. 

For a special treat add two or three vanilla pods. 

Kale and (Wild) Garlic

This side dish can be prepared with garlic but has a more subtle flavour if you use wild garlic leaves which are at their best in early April just as the plants start to flower.

Ingredients (per person)

  • Kale - 25-30g (1oz.) 
  • Garlic (one clove) or wild garlic (a generous handful)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • one quarter of fresh lemon

Blanch the kale in salt water and drain. If you are using 'ordinary' garlic,  crush the garlic and gently fry in olive oil before adding the kale. If you are using wild garlic, add raw to the drained kale and gently coo in the olive oil until wilted.

Squeeze the lemon over the mixture and serve while hot.


March Recipes


Rhubarb and Custard Tart

 Makes one 300mm (12”) diameter tart (8-12 portions). 

  • 450g (1 lb) sweet pastry, 
  • 450g (1 lb) early rhubarb cut into 25mm (1”) lengths, 
  • 1 small vanilla pod 
  • 150ml (1/4 pint) milk 
  • 150ml (1/4 pint) milk 
  • 3 egg yolks 
  • One heaped teaspoon of plain white flour 
  • 100g (4oz) white castor sugar 

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C (425°F) and Line a circular tin with the pastry and bake blind for 10-15 minutes. 

Warm the milk and cream gently but do not boil. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod and add to the milk/cream. Add the sugar, egg yolks and flour and whisk together, allow to cool slightly and pour into the pastry base. 

Arrange the rhubarb pieces on top of the custard and bake for 25 minutes. Serve warm or cold. 


Spring Greens with Lemon Dressing

Nutritious greens with strong lemon flavours for a healthy (and tasty) side dish.

  • 250g (½lb) broccoli
  • 450g (1lb) spring greens
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Seasoning (salt/ground black pepper)

Make the dressing by mixing the garlic, lemon juice and zest, olive oil and some seasoning together. 

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, then add the broccoli and greens, and cook for about 5 mins until tender. Drain well, then toss through the dressing and serve.    


Chick Pea and Chorizo Stew

A rich and hearty dish enriched with the last of the seasons kale leaves. 

  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • Half garlic bulb
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 chorizo ring (peeled and chopped) 
  • 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • Water (half the volume of tinned tomatoes)
  • 400g tin chick peas
  • Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
  • Good handful of tender kale leaves 

Gently fry the carrots and onions in the olive oil for 10 minutes. Peel and chop the garlic cloves and cook with the carrots/onions for five minutes. Add the chopped chrizo and cook for a further five minutes.

Add the tinned tomatoes, water and seasoning and simmer gently for one hour.

Add the chick peas, kale leaves, stir in and warm through.

Serve warm with crusty bread.

For extra richness sprinkle with grated cheese (strong cheddar or Spanish Manchego are both ideal). 

February Recipes

Sprouting Broccoli with Chilli and Anchovies

An unusual accompaniment to simply grilled meat or chicken. Enough for 4-6 portions.

  • 1kg (2lb) purple sprouting or long stem broccoli 
  • Half garlic bulb
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch dried chilli seeds
  • Half tin anchovy fillets
  • Squeeze of lemon (optional)

Trim the broccoli, blanch in salted water until tender and drain. 

Roughly chop the garlic and fry gently in the olive until soft. Add the chilli flakes and anchovies and cook until the anchovies have broken down and thickened the olive oil. Add the broccoli and warm through.


Anglesey Eggs

A simple and economical meal using seasonal leeks. The following makes four servings for a light supper or lunch.

  • 500g (1lb) mashed potato
  • 25g (1oz) butter
  • 2 large leeks, washed, finely sliced and blanched
  • 250ml (½pt) milk
  • 100g (4oz) strong Cheddar cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the mashed potato, leeks, butter milk and seasoning in a bowl. Divide the mixture into four and spoon into individual oven dishes to approximately 1cm (½”) below the top of each dish.

Form a hollow in the mixture in each bowl and crack an egg in the hole. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top of each dish and bake in a hot oven the eggs are cooked and the cheese has browned.


January Recipes


Brussells Sprouts Salad

Raw fresh Brussells Sprouts are surprisingly good raw in salads – give them a go in this variation of a Waldorf!

  • 50g (2oz.) fresh nuts (hazelnuts or      walnuts are ideal)
  • 100g (4oz.) fresh Brussells Sprouts
  • 2-3 tablespoons of dressing (olive oil with wine or cider vinegar)
  • One apple – Cox’s Orange Pippin is      perfect
  • 25-50g (1-2oz) stilton or strong Cheddar
  • Seasoning – salt and crushed black peppercorns

Pre-heat oven to 180°C and toast the nuts for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and chop or slice thinly.

Peel the sprouts and slice thinly. Put them in a small bowl and toss with the dressing and seasoning. Slice the apple and stir in with the sprouts. 

Crumble the cheese and loosely toss with the sprouts/apple. Sprinkle with the nuts and serve.  

Chinese Style Chard

An accompaniment to an oriental meal or quick and easy snack on its own.

150-250g (6-8oz) of chard

1 tbspn sesame or sunflower oil

3-4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbspn dark soy sauce

Chilli seeds (optional)

Blanche the chard in salted water for 2-3 minutes and drain. Heat the oil in a hot frying pan or wok, add the chard and garlic (and chilli seeds if you like additional spice). Stir occasionally for 3-4 minutes. Add the soy sauce and stir for a further 2-3 minutes. 

Serve with additional soy sauce to taste.


December Recipes


Tuscany Black Kale (Cavolo Nero) Salad

An unusual accompaniment to grilled meat, fish or chicken. Serves 4.

  • 450g (1lb) of cavolo nero leaves
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • White wine or cider vinegar (optional)
  • Herbs/spices to taste 
  • Good pinch see salt

Remove the kale leaves from the rib, chop into 50mm (2”) lengths and blanch in salted water for 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly and allow to cool.

Squash/Pumpkin Chutney

Makes 6-8 jars

  • 1.5 kg (3lb) of squash/pumpkin flesh
  • 450g (1lb) tomatoes (or tomatillos)
  • 450g (1lb) onions
  • 50g (2oz) sultanas/raisins
  • 750g (1½lb) soft brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons of pickling spice1 red c
  • hilli (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 600ml (1 pint) cider vinegar

Roast the pickling spice with the salt for 15 minutes, then crush in a mortar and pestle.

Chop the pumpkin, tomatoes and onions, and cook in a pan with the vinegar sugar, raisins/sultanas, chopped garlic and chopped chilli. Bring to the boil and add the ground spices and salt. Simmer until the mixture thickens and then pot in sterilised jars. Allow to ferment for at least two weeks before use.

The squash chunks should retain some of their firmness and provide a ‘nutty’ texture. - perfect with a strong cheddar or to accompany a curry. 

Parsnip Puree 

Serves four – delicious with turkey, gammon and roast pork.

  • 1 kg (2lbs) parsnips
  • 100g (4oz) butter
  • 2 tbspns double cream
  • Salt and pepper

Boil, peel and trim the parsnips and boil until soft (10-15 minutes). Drain and reserve the water. Blend the cooked parsnips with the butter and cream. Add the reserved water until it has the consistency of a sauce.

Return to the pan and season to taste.   

November Recipes

Pumpkin Pie

This American favourite is even better when it’s made with home-grown pumpkins or squashes – delicious (hot or cold) with whipped cream.

  • One supermarket 9” pastry base (or make your own if you prefer!)
  • 500g (1lb) pumpkin or squash flesh
  • 2 large egg
  • I tin condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ - teaspoon ground ginger
  • Grated nutmeg (to taste)

Boil the squash/pumpkin in salted water for 15-20 minutes. Drain thoroughly and allow to cool. Blend all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. Pour into the pastry base and cook for 40-45 minutes at 200°C - although the timing will depend on the moisture content of the pumpkin. Check at 30 minutes and then every five minutes, and reduce the oven temperature to 150°C if the pastry or topping are showing any signs of excessive ‘darkening’  (burning!).


Hard Fruit Chutney

A delicious chutney, made in a slow cooker, and which requires a short time (2 weeks) to mature. 


  • 1kg (2lbs) cooking apples
  • 450g (1lb pears)
  • 225g (½lb) onions
  • 450g (1lb) mixed dried fruit
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 60g (2½oz) root ginger
  • 1-2 fresh chilli(s) 
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon grain mustard
  • 600ml (1¼ pints) malt vinegar
  • 450g (1lb) brown sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 teaspoons salt  


Peel the fruit, ginger and garlic and remove the seeds and core from the apples and pears and chop coarsely by hand or in a food processor. Add all the other ingredients and cook in a slow cooker overnight. 

Poor into a large pan (not copper or aluminium) and cook until the chutney thickens and there is no thin liquid. 

Funnel the mixture into sterilises jars and fit wax discs. Store for at least two weeks and refrigerate once opened. 


October Recipes


Stuffed Rainbow Chard 

I found this variation on dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) in Monty and Sara Don’s book: Fork to Fork. The main ingredient is large (and, ideally, colourful) leaves of chard. For the stuffing you will need: 

  • 75g (3 oz.) basmati rice 
  • 1 large onion 
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts 
  • 2 tablespoons sultanas 
  • Sea salt and pepper (you could also add garlic/chilli/fresh herbs) 

Parboil the rice in salted water for about 5 minutes. Soften the onion in the olive oil and sweat for a further two minutes. Add all the other stuffing ingredients. 

Blanch 6-10 large (brightly coloured) chard leaves for 1 minute in salted water. Drain and add a handful of the stuffing and fold/roll into a parcel. 

Pack the parcels into an oiled oven-proof dish and pour in water to 10mm (1/2”) up the sides and bake at 190°C (375°F)) for approximately 25 minutes. 

Thai Squash Soup 

Serves four. 

  • 1 medium-sized squash (butternut or similar texture) 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • One generous slosh of olive oil 
  • 2-3 fresh red chillies 
  • 3 cloves garlic 
  • 1 thumb fresh grated ginger 
  • 1 large bunch fresh coriander 
  • 2 limes, zested and halved 
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce 
  • 800 ml unsweetened light coconut milk 
  • 300 ml chicken stock 
  • 200 g rice noodles 

Chop the squash, de-seed, cut into chunks (skin on) and roast at 180 °C with the dried chilli, salt and olive oil for 40 minutes. 

Pummel the garlic, ginger and coriander into a paste and mix with the lime and fish sauce to form a thin paste. Heat a large pan and add the paste and squash flesh for 1-2 minutes then add the coconut milk and chicken stock (add more chilli/salt/pepper/lime/fish sauce/sugar to taste). 

Simmer for 15 minutes then add noodles to the soup and, simmer for a few more minutes, then serve with freshly chopped coriander/chilli. 

Quince Marmalade

This is recipe from the National Allotment Society which first appeared in the 1845 boo, Modern Cookery by Eliza Acton. It can be used as a jam on toast or served with savoury foods such as cheese or cold meats.

  • 2kg (4lbs) quince
  • Water
  • Granulated Sugar

Wash and scrub the fluff off the quinces, then peel and core them. Place in a large pan and pour over enough water to almost cover. Bring to the boil and then simmer/stew for 35-45 minutes until the fruit is soft. 

Strain and pass the fruit through a food mill. Put the pulp back in the pan with the strained juice and add 280g sugar for every 500ml of juice (1½lbs per pint). Stir and dissolve under a low heat until the mixture resembles a thick porridge. Poor into sterilised jars/pots and label.


September Recipes


Tomato Chutney

Makes 6-7 jars

  • 3kg (6lb) tomatoes (mix varieties and combine ripe/unripe fruit)
  • 500g (1lb) finely chopped onions
  • 300ml (1/2 pint) cider vinegar
  • 25g (1oz.) salt
  • 350g (6oz.) demerara sugar
  • Paprika/chilli/cayenne to taste

Wash, peel and chop the tomatoes and cook gently with the onions until reduced to a thick pulp. 

Add the other ingredients and continue cooking until thick. 

Pour into sterilized jars and store for at least four weeks before use.

Plum Butter

Butters are an alternative to jam (but with more reduction of fruit) which was a popular element of Victorian and Edwardian afternoon teas. They can be stored for three months or more, stretching the taste of summer to around Christmas. 

Despite their name they do not contain any butter.

  • 1.5kg (3lb) whole ripe plums
  • 600ml (1 pint) water
  • 1kg sugar
  • Juice and zest of 2-3 oranges
  • Cinnamon and/or cloves to taste

Remove stones and place the plums in a large saucepan with the water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for up to an hour until the plums have collapsed. 

Allow to cool and strain. Return to the pan and add the spice, orange juice and zest and heat for ten minutes. Add the sugar and boil gently until the mixture has thickened.

Place in warmed sterilised jars and store in a cool dark space. Use within three months.


Runner Beans with Garlic

A variation on traditionally boiled runner beans which abound at this time of year.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-6 sliced garlic cloves
  • 500-600g (1-1½lb) runner beans, trimmed and sliced
  • Sliced chilli or red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Sea salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • Juice of one lemon

Heat the oil in a shallow pan and add the garlic and cook for a few minutes until soft and starting to brown. Add the (raw) beans and chilli red pepper flakes; and mix well. Cover and turn the heat to low until the beans are tender (10-15 minutes), turning occasionally. Season and stir in the lemon juice before serving

Toasted Pumpkin / Squash Seeds

The fruit is the main food of the pumpkin/squash but the seeds are highly nutritious and delicious If roasted with salt and/or spices.

  • Raw whole seeds of one large pumpkin/squash
  • 50g (2 oz.) butter or 2 tablespoons sunflower or rape seed oil
  • Good pinch of salt (or garlic salt) 
  • Ground Spices (optional) from; chilli, black pepper, paprika, coriander, cumin

Preheat the oven to 150degC (300degF). 

Wash the seeds and drain thoroughly. Toss seeds in a bowl with the oil/melted butter and salt/spices. Spread in a single layer on a baking tray (a sheet of parchment paper or foil will make cleaning up a bit easier!) and bake until golden brown (45 minutes to an hour). Allow to cool slightly but enjoyed best when still warm.

(Remember to keep some seeds back for planting next year!)

August Recipes


Fruit ice-cream 

To make 2 litres of ice-cream (a typical supermarket tub) use 

  • 250g (8 oz) strawberries (or a mixture of soft fruit: strawberries, raspberries, currants), 
  • 250g (8oz) double cream and 
  • 125g (5oz) white castor sugar 

(If you store your sugar with vanilla pods the ice-cream will taste even better!) 

Puree the strawberries then mix in the cream and sugar. Put them in an ice-cream maker. If you don't have an 

ice-cream maker (then add it to your Christmas list and) put the mixture in a 2 litre tub and put it in the freezer, give it a stir every hour or so to keep the mixture smooth before it sets. 

If you keep the ice-cream in a freezer, it will set harder than shop-bought ice-cream so remember to take it out and allow to de-frost for 15-30 minutes before serving. 


Beetroot Chutney 

A nice ‘Branston’ style pickle, and a good way of preserving surplus beetroot. 

  • 1kg beetroot 
  • 500g onions 
  • 750g cooking apples 
  • 500g raisins 
  • 1kg sugar 
  • 2-3 tablespoons ground ginger 
  • 1 litre malt vinegar 

Peel and grate or chop the (raw) beetroot and peel and finely chop the onions and apples. Then put in a pan with the other ingredients. Bring to the boil and then simmer until thick. Pot in sterile jars. 


July Recipes


Courgettes are now ripening in abundance, and will continue throughout summer, which is fantastic news for allotment gardeners. Try and pick them at their optimum size: no more than  20cm (8”) in length but are more tender and sweet if they are a bit smaller, around 150mm (6”) – in the right conditions they can grow from too small to too big in less than a day. 

Courgette Salad:

Serves 4-8 as a side dish.

  • 2 large courgettes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime/lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds (or sunflower, chia or pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • Salt and pepper

Coarsely grate the courgette and toss with all of the other ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve quickly, before the moisture is drawn out of the courgettes. Perfect as an accompaniment to all barbecued food. Simple, quick and delicious!

Courgette, Potato and Cheddar Soup

Serves up to 8.

  • 500g (1lb) chopped potatoes (unpeeled)
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 1kg (2lb) coarsely chopped courgettes
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • 100g (4oz) extra mature cheddar (grated)
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper

Put the potatoes in a saucepan and just cover with water. Crumble in the stock cubes and bring to the boil. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the courgettes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add 90% of the spring onions and cook for a final 5 minutes.

Take off the heat and stir in 90% of the cheddar and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Whizz to a thick soup, adding more hot water to achieve your favoured consistency. Serve scattered with some freshly grated nutmeg and the reserved spring onions and cheese. Alternatively allow to cool and freeze for up to 3 months. 

You use a combination of cheddar and a blue cheesed for extra flavour. 

June Recipes

Summer Pudding

Use blackcurrants, redcurrants and an assortment of other summer fruits to make this summer favourite. Serve with fresh cream or crème fraiche. 

  • Medium slices of white bread (crust removed) – enough to line a 1 litre bowl and make a lid.
  • 750g (1½lb) of currants and other soft fruits (raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, blueberries, blackberries)
  • 100g (4oz) white sugar

Line the base and sides of a 1 litre bowl.

Gently simmer the fruit with the sugar –until the sugar has completely dissolved and then a few further minutes so juice starts to run from the fruit mixture. 

Reserve 1-2 table spoons of the juice. Poor the fruit and juice mixture into the lined bowl and make a lid out of the bread slices so that the pudding fills the bowl to just below its top. Cover with cling film, place a saucer on the top and put a weight on top so that the lid is slowly and gently squashed into the fruit mixture. Place in the fridge and leave overnight. 

Turn the pudding out and pour the remaining juice over the top.

Broad Bean Hummus

Perfect with crackers, pitta bread or toasted sour dough bread.

  • 450g (1lb) of broad beans
  • 1 tsp spices (from cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black pepper, paprika, chilli seeds)
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Water
  • Parsley or coriander leaves

Boil the shelled beans in salt water for five minutes, cool under running water, and remove from their skins.

Bake the seeds gently in a medium oven. Grind to powder in a mortar and pestle with the salt while still warm.

Place the beans, spice mix, garlic, olive oil, and a small amount of water in a blender and blend to a smooth puree. Add more water if the mixture is too thick, and more salt if needed.

Sprinkle with a small garnish of chopped parsley or coriander.


Strawberry ice-cream

To make 2 litres of ice-cream (a typical supermarket tub) use 

  • 250g (8 oz) strawberries (or a mixture of soft fruit: strawberries, raspberries, currants),
  • 250g (8oz) double cream and 
  • 125g (5oz) white castor sugar  

(If you store your sugar with vanilla pods the ice-cream will taste even better!)

Puree the strawberries then mix in the cream and sugar. Put them in an ice-cream maker. If you don't have an ice-cream maker (then add it to your Christmas list and) put the mixture in a 2 litre tub and put it in the freezer, give it a stir every hour or so to keep the mixture smooth before it sets. 

If you keep the ice-cream in a freezer, it will set harder than shop-bought ice-cream so remember to take it out and allow to de-frost for 15-30 minutes before serving.


Preserving Fruit and Vegetables

Jam, Pickles and Chutney

Preserving Vegetables and Fruit

Preserving is a simple way of using fruit and vegetables, and it’s homely and satisfying to have jars of jams, chutneys, pickles and relishes in our cupboards. It is the perfect way of using surplus produce when there is a glut. And, by making them ourselves, we have control over their ingredients and can avoid the use of unnecessary colourings, flavourings and preservatives. They also make ideal gifts.

  • Jams, jellies, marmalades and conserves are a mixture of fruits and sugar to which other flavours (e.g. spices) can be added
  • Curds contain eggs and are cooked slowly at lower temperatures than jam (and, although they keep well when unopened, need to be refrigerated once opened) 
  • Chutneys and relishes are made using an assortment of vegetables and spices with additional fruit, sugar and vinegars used as a preservative
  • Pickles preserve fruit or vegetables by fermenting them or immersing them in either vinegar or brine

The nutritional value of all food deteriorates after it is picked. Preserving fruit and vegetables this is further reduced by washing, cooking, leaching and degradation. Many of these are unavoidable but can be limited by, preserving in oil rather than a sweet sauce, by pickling large chunks rather than grated vegetables, and by storing in cool dark spaces. And, although there is some loss of nutrients, preserved vegetables have historically helped to combat starvation and prevent scurvy throughout northern European winters. But the main reason for preserving fruit is to extend the shelf life of our produce, and, perhaps far more importantly, the taste!

Preserving doesn’t need any specialist equipment (although items such as preserving pans, jam funnels, and sugar thermometers are an advantage) and they require ingredients that are commonly available in any supermarket. 


Dealing with Excess Produce


Even after giving away some of your produce to friends you may still be left with more than you can use - what a lovely problem to have!

Preservation is all about reducing the rate at which our crops decay. 

Freezing is the simplest, quickest and most convenient means of preserving, and it is easy to store crops in small batches as they ripen. Most vegetables can be blanched then drained and frozen. Tomatoes, peppers and courgettes can be used in pasta sauces and ratatouille that can be frozen. Soft fruits can be open frozen straight after picking or cooked as syrups or purees and then bagged in small or large quantities.


Making jam is probably the most common/popular method for preserving fruit and soft fruits produce some delightful jams/conserves. Add sugar (similar weight to that of the fruit) and a lemon per kg (2 lb) of fruit and heat the mixture until a drop creases when dropped o a chilled saucer. Pour into sterilised jars when hot and seal the lids (these will produce a satisfying ‘pop’ as the contents cool). Try adding crystallised or powdered ginger to apple or gooseberry (or other tart fruits) to strawberry jam.

Pickling – preserving in vinegar or a vinegar-based sauce – can provide a delightful range of colours and flavours from simple pickled onions and other vegetables through ploughman’s pickles to mango chutneys and classics such as piccalilli. They should generally be left for at least one month before use to allow the flavours to combine and mature. Fruits – particularly apples, plums, pears and gooseberries - can also be cooked with sugar and vinegar to produce chutneys and pickles that are delicious with cheese and cold meats (mix 500g plums with 500g sugar and 250ml of white vinegar for a delicious cheese ccompaniment!).

Bottling is less common but not difficult – simply pack fruit or vegetables into bottling jars and cover with syrup, water or brine, then cook and seal them at high temperature to ensure that there are no bacteria present.

Drying fruit is an excellent way of enjoying excess crops throughout the year. You can slow dry them in an oven or use an electric dehydrator. Most fruit is suitable and so are tomatoes and chilies. Use fresh fruit in good condition remove all stones and any blemishes. Sliced fruit should be soaked in a 50:50 mixture of lemon juice and water. Hard fruit will need soaking for thirty minutes to an hour, plums and berries will need about half as long. The time it takes to dry fruit depends on the size and their moisture content. Apples, pears and plums can take 8 to 10 hours at 50°C-70°C. Berries will take slightly less time at a lower temperature of 40°C-50°C. The fruit is ready to store in sealed jars when there is some ‘give’ and no moisture is released when squeezed. The fruit is perfect for snacking and can be re-hydrated and stewed to make pie fillings and mincemeat.