Friday, 5 August 2011

Jams and chutneys

Since coming to France I have made my own jams, chutneys and relishes mainly from produce which I have in the garden or can find locally (free!).

Over the years I have made quite a variety and always leave some for our guests in the gite 'welcome pack' of foods ready for their arrival.

Our friends who live near Chester (PetenSue) who have been a great help to us over the years bought me a preserving pan and associated tools a few years ago and these have become indespensable.

This year, to date, I have made Strawberry, Apricot, Gooseberry & Elderflower, Blackcurrant, Mirabelle and Cherry jams, and  today I made the first of the seasons' relishes - Red Hot Relish. I don't eat the chutneys or relishes but I am told they are mostly very good (The smell of them cooking is enough to put me off and helps to remind me why I don't like them!)

I made a Butternut, Apricot and Almond chutney last year, but I'm not sure this was very successful, as John - who is my main consumer - didn't seem very impressed!
John's favorite with cold meats and the local ham

The French don't do the savoury preserves so much, but we are gradually introducing them when we have the opportunity. Our friends Chris & Julie host a hunt on their land, and last year we did a curry breakfast for them (eaten at lunch time, not 8 o'clock in the morning!) and the chutneys went down a treat. In fact, the hotter the better in many cases. Indian food isn't as big here (yet) as in the UK, but I don't think it will be too long before we see some restaurants opening in the provinces. We have to get them onto beer with their curries though, as French wine doesn't marry with the spices too well.

It's always nice to be able to offer a jar of home-made something or other to our friends when we go for dinner. Better than flowers (which cost a bomb here for some reason).

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