All About Preserves and Preserving British Food

  • 01 of 07

    Why Preserve Food?

    Home-made raspberry jam
    Home Made Jam. Gregoria Gregoriou Crowe fine art and creative photography. / Getty Images

    Preserving the harvest and storing food for the winter months has always been an intrinsic part of survival. In the days before freezers, supermarkets, and ordering on the internet, it was down to the individual (usually the woman of the house) to fill the store cupboard ready for the dearth of winter. Jams, jellies, pickles, chutneys, smoking, salting, drying, canning or bottling, were all part of the cook's repertoire.

    Preserving food is, for many, no longer necessary for survival, but it is a great way stretch the budget. Preserving extends the shelf life of foods picked up cheaply and if the method used is done quickly, and correctly will often maintain the "goodness" in the produce.

    On the following pages are some of the most common methods of keeping foods today.

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  • 02 of 07

    Jams, Jellies and Marmalade

    Delicious Home Made Jam. Copyright Elaine Lemm

    Think of preserves and usually the ones that first come to mind are jams, jelly and marmalade. Who doesn't love homemade jam spread on a freshly baked scone or marmalade on a slice of toast? Making jam or jelly is an excellent way to make the most of the plentiful summer fruits, and it can be made with the minimum amount of fuss or equipment.

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  • 03 of 07

    Pickling, the Backbone of British Food

    The Perfect Pickled Onion. Elaine Lemm

    Pickling has been a way of preserving foods for centuries. The addition of vinegar (pickling) to food acts as an antiseptic, creating an acidic environment which prevents the growth of the bacteria which spoils food. Pickled cucumbers, onions, beetroot, fish, even fruits, are much loved pickled foods.

    A great way of using up slightly overripe fruits and vegetables is a long, slow cooking with sugar and vinegar to produce a chutney, relish or ketchup. What would a piece of cheese or slice of cold beef be without them?

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  • 04 of 07

    Freezing Food

    Frozen Food. Getty - Annabelle Breakey

    100 years ago the thought of being able to freeze food in the home was unheard of and probably just a dream. In that dream, how wonderful to be able to make the most of the fresh food, meat, fish vegetables or fruits and preserve it simply and quickly for eating later, and still almost as fresh as the day it was frozen.

    Few foods can't be frozen, but, there are some, so always check before you do. Diana Rattray, Southern Food Expert, has great tips on freezing food including what can and can't be frozen and a time guide on freezing food.

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  • 05 of 07

    Summer Cordials, Liqueurs and Juices

    Refreshing Elderflower Cordial. istock

     Cordials, syrups and liqueurs are a method of preserving, currently enjoing a massive comeback.

    There are some lovely drinks that can be created from fruits, nuts and flowers.

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  • 06 of 07

    Canning or Bottling

    Canned Vegetables 1
    Jeffrey Coolidge / Getty Images

    Canning, or bottling, as it is called in the UK, is the method of preserving food in jars. The food is packed into jars, sealed and sterilised to a high temperature. The foods are usually submerged into a sugar syrup (fruit) or a saltwater brine (vegetables). Meats or fish are processed - maybe a paté, or cooked and covered in fat, a 'confit, then sterilised. Because the food is 'cooked' to a high temperature, all that's required is to open the jar and reheat - fast food at its best. It's important when canning that care and attention are paid to ensure the food is safe.

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  • 07 of 07

    Smoking and Salting

    Smoked Salmon Dill Sauce. Getty

    There are other methods of preserving food which are not as accessible, or take longer than the ones above but are also a great way to preserve food. Smoking food is so much fun and how great to serve your own-smoked food to guests.

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      Salting, though out of favor with many through the fear of too much salt in the diet even though most of the salt is washed away once the food is cured, is still a great way to preserve food. Ever tried making Graved Lax without it.

      Drying is so easy to do and one of my favorite's to dry are herbs. it is rare there isn't some herb or other drying in my kitchen Drying herbs is one of the best ways to preserve herbs for use year-round.