I spent the weekend preserving – tomato ketchup and pickled garlic. Here are the recipes.

Tomato Ketchup

Either you will like this or you won’t – it is very sweet, which I love, but others say they think it is too sweet. But don’t cut down on the sugar as that is one of the preservatives in this recipe. I have never hot water processed this ketchup – just bottle, shelve and use within the year. Refrigerate once opened.

This is one of my favourite recipes, and I make this ketchup every year in batches as the tomatoes come in.

You will need: a large pot (either a preserving pan or a large stock pot); bottles and caps (which need to be sterile; pop washed bottles into an oven on a towel and bake for about 20 minutes at 110 C; simmer caps in a pan for about 10 minutes); a funnel to bottle up the sauce; a mouli or a blender to blend everything together once cooked.

These quantities make about 2.5 litres.

Ingredients:

2 kilo of ripe tomatoes
500 gm apples (golden delicious or other sweet apples)
500 gm onions
4 tablespoons of whole cloves
2 tablespoons whole allspice
1 and one half tablespoons of whole black peppercorns
500 gm sugar
2 tablespoons of salt
One quarter a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 and one quarter cups of malt vinegar

Method:

Roughly chop the unpeeled tomatoes and cored apples, and peel and chop the onions. Put into your pan or pot together with the vinegar and the sugar and start to heat.

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Tie the cloves, allspice and peppercorns in muslin and pop into your pot, tying to one side with a bit of string so it won’t get lost. If you don’t have any muslin or cheesecloth, I have just added these spices in powdered form direct to the mix – but you will need much less – just add to taste.

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Simmer everything down to a nice pulp for about an hour. Smells delicious! Keep the pot uncovered.

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In the meantime, wash your bottles and caps and sterilise them – simmer caps in water for about 10 minutes, leaving them in the hot water until you need them, and put the wet bottles into the oven, standing them on a towel and baking for 20 minutes at 110 C.

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Once it is simmered down, either blend the lot roughly, or put the mix through a mouli to remove all the skins. I have done both – the blender keeps the skins but they get chopped up, the mouli will remove them. Either or is fine. A mouli is less mess and faster than blending in batches.

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At this point, assess the sauce to see if it is too thin – you may need to put it back in your pot and reduce it to make it thicker.

Bottle into the warm bottles and seal. Leave out to cool, then label with the name and date. Done!

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This is the first year I have had a proper preserving pan – love it. A stockpot is fine, but a preserving pan has a wider top than bottom, aiding reducing fast; it has volume markings inside (very useful); it has a handle which will lock at varying angles; and it has a pouring lip and side handle – even more useful.

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Pickled Garlic – this recipe comes from the River Cottage Preserving Book No. 2

Ingredients:

500 gram new garlic bulbs
1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
About 12 peppercorns (black, white or pink)
4-6 bay leaves
200 ml cider vinegar
50 gram granulated sugar
A good pinch of saffron strands.

Method:

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Plunge in the garlic for a mere minute, to help loosen the outer skins. Remove from the water, drain and pat dry. (You don’t have to do this – if you do, it means you will have a large quantity of garlic bulbs with wet, slimy skin …)

Have ready your warm sterilised jars. Break the bulbs into individual cloves. Peel each clove and pack them into the jars, dropping in the fennel seeds, peppercorns and bay leaves as you go.

Put the vinegar, sugar and saffron into a pan. Bring to the boil and boil for a couple of minutes. Pour the hot vinegar over the garlic, then seal with vinegar-proof lids. Use within a year.

These will be crisp but quite mild when used. Use in salads or to flavour roasting lamb etc.

The peeling of your garlic will test your patience! I did a kilo of these yesterday and it took me almost 2 hours of grumbling to get it done – but the end product is well worth it.

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And finally – just a pic of a typical day’s pickings from the garden. :)

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