Preserving for Lazy Foodies, Part 1
Both MightyFineThings & Coxy’s Kent liqueurs were born out of a love of preserving the diverse flavours of the seasons and the produce around us – and a lack of desire to stand over a hot pan making jam all day. Our products have all been developed with both flavour & ease in mind. Let time do the work for you! Here is our lazy foodies guide to preserving extending ‘food life’ that doesn’t go anywhere near a hob, cooker or Aga!
Being based in Faversham in the Garden of England we are lucky enough to be surrounded by fruit. Fruit and in particular soft fruit is ideal for making liqueurs & vinegars – these are low input, high in taste and work brilliantly in cocktails and in cooking and – dare we mention the C word so early in the day – they make brilliant & original Christmas presents and gifts all year.
Raspberries, cherries, plums, blackberries, sloes, strawberry’s, flowers like elderflower, lavender & rose and herbs like rosemary, coffee beans & vanilla pods can all be utilised in this way. It’s so simple it hardly needs a recipe, all you need is your main flavouring (fruit, flower, herb) a clean bottle with a properly fitting lid & your liquid of choice, a bottle of gin, vodka, brandy, rum, cider vinegar or white wine vinegar and a few sugar cubes if you like a sweetened liqueur or vinegar.
It’s really as simple as popping the fruit (and sugar) into a bottle and topping up with your booze or vinegar. Tightly seal the cap, make a note of what is in the bottle & the date, when we started we just used a sharpie on the glass or some masking tape and store away in a cool dark place.
The only thing you need to do is occasionally check it for taste & when you get a good flavour strain off the infused vinegar or alcohol and pour into another clean bottle, this is a good time to decant into smaller bottles & put nice labels on everything if giving as presents. The fruit you strain off will taste amazing too. Think Figs in Brandy & Summer Fruit in Rum (aka Rumtopf for all you children of the 70’s). Use in tarts, on ice cream, as cordials, on salads, as glazes for cakes, in cobblers, clafoutis, on a spoon, in trifles, with cheese…
What if you have a surplus of veg in the summer? We do it every year, plant out the entire packet of courgette seeds and end up with more zucchini than we can handle. Don’t panic, ferments are the answer. All you need for this is large sized Kilner jars & sea salt. Fermented foods taste a bit vinegary, but the flavour comes from the fermenting process, the health benefits of this technique are numerous, the good bacteria that are produced aid our digestive systems.
We usually slice, grate or roughly shred our veg, onions, carrots, chilli, garlic, cabbage, cucumbers, courgettes, cauliflowers, the list of stuff to ferment is massive. We sprinkle it with good quality sea salt, sometimes a spice or herb, dill seed, chilli, fennel are all ace, mix well, pack it into the bottom of clean Kilner jars and bash it about a bit with the end of a rolling pin or wooden spoon. The salt draws out the natural moisture in the veg to create a natural brine, the idea is that after a couple of hours the veg will be nicely covered underneath this liquid, all you need to do is seal the jar and leave it to do it’s funky fermented thing, either on the worktop, or in the fridge (the process takes a bit longer in a colder place).
Check the jar every morning to see how it’s doing, poking the veg back under the brine if it’s moved, opening the jars regularly is known as ‘burping’ them & allows the gases that are created by fermenting to be released. If you find you don’t have enough natural brine (maybe you had some veg that was a bit older and drier) that’s fine just use some filtered water and dissolve some sea salt in it to make up half a jug full of brine and pour this over your veg.
As with the bottled preserving techniques check the flavour and start eating the ferment as soon as you like, keep it in the fridge and use it for lunch, salads, with burgers, as a side at dinner, we like a spicy Kimchi ferment in a cheese toastie! Ferments, liqueurs and vinegars don’t go off as such, they just get too strong or nasty tasting with age and go past the point of being edible, so be guided by your own taste buds.
Good luck & be sure to tag us into your experiments on social media, we love seeing what you’re up to!