Preserving the best

by Veronica

With a good yield of produce available in my own garden, friends' gardens and also to forage amongst the hedgerows, August always sees me preserving before winter.

Each year it seems that just as our family and friends go on holiday, their garden produce comes to fruition and they have to hand it out to us all so it won't waste whilst they are away. I always finish August making Preserves of one sort or another. It is very satisfying to see jars and bottles of preserves and cordials with pretty labels, ready to see us through winter... if they last that long.

So far this summer I have made Courgette ( Zucchini ) loaves and put them in the freezer, elderflower cordial and rhubarb cordials. These have no chemicals, preservatives and less sugar than bought cordials so are better for the children. Today, I have made apple and blackberry jam and also rhubarb and orange jam.

Before Christmas, I will make my Red Onion Marmalade that everyone loves on Christmas Eve with pates, pork pies and hams.

There are dozens of recipes online and I am sure you will find the ones to suit your lovely families. We like these.

My courgette plant
My courgette plant
veronica's photo

When I was a child my dad had plum trees, rhubarb crowns and blackcurrants in the back garden. We always ate what was in season. Mum could have blackcurrants picked and preserved as jams or chutneys within half an hour of them being picked.  To this day my favourites are Plum jam and Blackcurrant jam.

Taking this one step further, I also make cordials and use my home-grown raspberries or wild fruit we have foraged and also loaves with herbs or vegetables.

By my front door I have mint plants. A sprig of mint in a mug of warm water and add half a lime for  a mint and lime infusion. This will help you start the day really well if taken in the morning.


MY raspberry plants today
MY raspberry plants today
Veronica's photo


The first cordials I make of the summer are always Elderflower cordials. My daughter in law picks the elderflowers and we each make the cordial. There are several recipes online for cordials. I always add some citric acid to help it stay fresh longer. Sometimes I use the bottles I bought years ago. Sometimes I save bottles and reuse them as in the one on the right.

Elderflower ( left ) rhubarb (right )
Elderflower ( left ) rhubarb (right )
Veronica's own


I spent this morning making jams and hopefully these will last us and our sons' families through the winter.

I used the rhubarb from my garden. Yes there is some left after giving some away, eating some in crumbles and also making cordial.

in the ground
in the ground
Veronica's photo
Rhubarb in canvas pots
Rhubarb in canvas pots
Veronica's photo

I started off by sterilising the jars. This is done by putting them in the hot oven about 110C to kill off any bacteria. Any preserves should always go in washed, oven sterilised jars.

Sterilise the jars
Sterilise the jars
Jam thermometer
Jam thermometer
Veronica's photo

I always use a proper jam thermometer. It takes all the guess work out if you boil the jam to the line it states on the thermometer.  Easy.

Some fruits don't have a lot of natural setting agent, pectin,  in them so it is a good idea to help setting by adding some orange or lemon to the mixture. I sometimes add the zest too.

Orange and zester
Orange and zester
Veronica's photo
Chopped rhubarb
Chopped rhubarb
Veronica's photo
chopped ginger
chopped ginger
Veronica's photo

I added chopped rhubarb, chopped ginger. zest and juice of 2 oranges and warmed sugar to the pan, boiled it up and filled jars that had been in the oven.

It is important to put a waxed disc on the jam immediately to make a sterile seal. Then use pretty lids and labels. The date is important to add to it.

As with the cordials, sometimes I use saved jars but if I give them as gifts I use pretty jars and labels and lids.

lots of jams this morning
lots of jams this morning
Veronica's photo

Specially for Christmas

Red Onion Marmelade

This is perfect for Christmas and is a delicious preserve that goes with gammons, hams, pates, cold meats.

It is a great way to preserve onions when you have too many too.


Red Onion marmalade

4 lbs red onions

4 oz butter

2 ozs caster sugar

75 cl red wine

25 cl port

50cl blackcurrant vinegar


Soften the onions very slowly in butter, on the lowest possible heat, so they don't go brown.

Add the sugar and stir in.

Pour the liquid over and simmer slowly on the very lowest possible heat until the onions have absorbed almost all the liquid

Heat the jars in a 110 C oven to sterilise .

put the onion mixture in , place a transparent lid on and seal.

This should last about 3 weeks .








Updated: 04/01/2016, Veronica
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Veronica on 11/01/2015


I have added my red onion marmalade to this list so you may try it for Christmas to give your family and guests. My family love it. I hope you do too.

Veronica on 09/01/2015


How interesting that you commented just then, as my son just at that time mailed me and said how he liked the ginger in the jar of jam I gave him.

I used ginger that was in a small jar from the supermarket and it seems to have work pleasingly.

north_america on 09/01/2015

Adding ginger to jams sounds like a great idea!

Veronica on 09/01/2015


You're right. That's true and it's all free if it's from the garden or foraged locally.

Veronica on 09/01/2015

Homegrown fruit is the way ahead I think. Fresh, natural and organic and eaten soon after picking.

Rhubarb and raspberry crumble s a big family favourite here.

Katie have you tried making raspberry and rhubarb cordial ?

blackspanielgallery on 08/31/2015

An excellent way to enjoy your produce long after the harvest.

katiem2 on 08/31/2015

Oh my your talking about so many of my favorites, rhubarb and raspberries, I grow both myself in me own garden. I have ever berry raspberries, they keep comin on as long as they are properly picked on a regular basis. I eat fresh raspberries everyday. My rhubarb is just starting to get big enough to have more left over after pies. I also have strawberry and blackberry patches.

Veronica on 08/30/2015

You are quite right. It does go naturally with gardening.

My daughter in law is a star when it comes to finding wild-grown food though. She knows what to look for and can spot wild food from yards away.

There are several recipes online for cordials, jam, chutneys etc to help you preserve best of a harvest. Choose what your family like.

If you decide to do some preserving, make sure things are sterile. Have all the things ready on your worktop and enjoy it.

I would start with something straightforward like cordials. Boil some sugar and water, pour it over prepared fruit and then put it all in a muslin cloth and let it strain through into a sterile bowl over night. Next morning, sterilise your bottles in the oven, let them cool and ladle the strained cordial into bottles.

We give homemade preserves as gifts in pretty jars and bottles.

dustytoes on 08/30/2015

I would love to do canning and preserving side by side with someone knowledgeable. It seems to go naturally with gardening.

Veronica on 08/29/2015

Thank you and I can understand that you wouldn't go near the bears.

I do believe that nature gives us what we need in season and I don't think that all this food that is flown in out of season is necessarily better for us.

I was brought up with preserves of all types. I eat fresh veg in season but do preserve fruits as described.

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