Recipes for preserves

Preserving the flavours of the seasons is a thing I love to do. Jams, syrups, pickles have a go it’s not hard.

Lime Blossom syrup

I made this syrup about a week ago. It’s got a really unusual, melony, flavour – I’d say a bit like fruit salad. If you can still find some lime blossom with a good scent have a go. It’s much better if you dry the lime blossom first. Pick the blossoms including the wing shaped bract and lay them on a tray. It only takes 2 or 3 days for them to dry in a warm room.

Lime Blossom syrup

makes 1 bottle keeps for 6 weeks in the fridge.

1lt dried Lime blossoms

zest of a small lemon and a small orange

half lt water

350g sugar

half tsp citric acid

strained juice of half a lemon

Sterilise a 75cl bottle. Put Lime blossoms and zests in a heatproof jug, pour over half a litre of boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse for 15 mins. Strain into a pan and add the sugar, citric acid, and lemon juice. Heat until the sugar is dissolved and then pour into the bottle.

Corn Mint Jelly

I’ve just made this today and it’s a tangy little number!

We’ve got cornmint in our woods but you can find it in lots of damp woods and wet field edges. its just about to flower and the leaves are at there best now. You can use garden mint if you want, but I’d go for a medium sized bunch as the flavour is much stronger.

 Cornmint and apple jelly – makes approx 500g

 1 large bunch of corn mint (3/4 needs to be chopped small just before adding)

750g windfall cooking apples

0.4ltr water

0.4ltr white wine vinegar

450g sugar

Jam thermometer or meat thermometer helps when judging if it will set

Wash and roughly chop the apples. put them into a large pan with the water and about a quarter of the mint, simmer, covered, until really soft and pulpy. Add the vinegar and boil for 5 minutes.

Strain through a jelly bag. Measure the liquid you should have 1 pint. Put you jars in the oven to sterilise. Put the liquid in a clean pan and for every pint of liquid add 450g sugar. Heat it until the sugar has dissolved and then boil until setting point is reached. I found that it didn’t take very long and when the temperature reached 104oC it set. Test for a set on a cold plate. Skim the scum off the top of the boiling jelly and add the chopped corn mint, boil for another minute then turn off the heat and leave to cool for a little while. Stir the mix to distribute the mint and pour into sterilised jars.

Wild Raspberry Gin

Raspberry Gin I’ve just bottled this 9.8.2010

Wow this is nice. I think it will be good to add to puddings or maybe as a long drink with soda or lemonade.

Two weeks ago I picked wild raspberrys from our wood and came up with this gin idea. I wanted to make a really summery drink, quite different from the warming wintery Sloe Gin. Wild raspberrys are sweeter and sharper than the ones that are commercially grown, much smaller too.

I picked over the fruit getting rid of any bits that didn’t look nice and put the berries into an empty bottle. They did get a bit mushy! I filled the bottle to half way up with raspberries and added about a tablespoon of sugar. Then I filled it up to the top with gin. I used Gordons gin, I wanted to taste the floral notes of the gin through the raspberry flavour I think it’s very summery. – you know I like my flowers

I gave the bottle a shake to dissolve the sugar and every few days I shook it again to get the flavour out of the raspberries. It was left it in a cupboard for two weeks until today when I strained the gin through a jelly bag into a big jug and poured it into a sterile bottle. Yum……..I might have a go at making a fuit punch with the gin and orange slices and lemonade………..I think definately theres a trifle that I can make with the alcoholic raspberries that I’ve got left over…

Cherry Plums

Cherry Plums can be yellow or red. I think quite often they’re planted as an ornamental small tree. These are growing in Boroughbridge just by a childrens playground. The pink blossom comes early in the spring and the fruit is ripe now.

The fruit look like a small plum but are the size of a big cherry. They dangle on stalk like a cherry and have a groove like a plum.

I picked both colours and after halving and stoning them I stewed them gently with sugar and cinnamon for about 20 minutes. They were very tart but had a good flavour. I put 100g sugar to 200g cherry plums and a tsp cinnamon. If you find some you can make all the things that you can make with ordinary plums. We think that the cold compote will go very well with meat as a chutney Chris is serving it with pigeon on tomorrows wildfood weekend.

Blackberries or Brambles?

Whatever you call them they’re lovely. This year they’re better than ever in our wood. I’m having a go at a new recipe -Blackberry Whisky. Chris and I had some last year at a shoot and it was delicious. I’ve washed the berries and put them into a large bottle with the Whisky and some sugar. I’ll leave it for a few months………probably ’til Christmas and then strain off the fruit and bottle the Whisky. BEWARE This is an untried recipe so it might be horrible ! … I shouldn’t think it will be though.

The quantitiies I’ve used are:-

  • 75cl blended Whisky,
  • 200g blackberries
  • 100g sugar

If blackberries are what youv’e got loads of then I would definately recommend making blackberry and apple jam. Some people prefer to make a jelly because of the pips but if you put apples in too it is great. It has a heartyness about it that is so good on hot buttered toast!

Blackberry and apple jam

  • 900g Blackberries,  washed and picked over
  • 350g Sour apples peeled and cored
  • 1350g sugar
  • 150ml water

Put the blackberries and half of the water in a big heavy bottomed pan and cook gently until soft. In another pan cook the apples with the other half of the water. When the apples are soft mash them with a spoon or potato masher. Put the apples, and sugar into the big pan with the blackberries and bring to the boil. Stir the mix until it reaches setting point and pour into sterilized jars. – your jam will set at around 104oC, check it by putting a bit onto a very cold plate and seeing if it wrinkles when you push your finger through it.

Pontack sauce

Pontack sauce is an old traditional recipe. It has a good strong flavour, I think it’s a little bit like HP Sauce. Ideally keep it for a few months before using as the flavours mellow. It goes especially well with cold meats and game but you can also use it to add a flavour to gravy or sauces. this is my version of it.

  • 500g Elderberries (washed and stalks removed)
  • 250ml White wine vinegar
  • 250ml Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Red onion chopped
  • 15g fresh root ginger bruised
  • 1tsp ground Allspice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 170g Demarara sugar

Put all the ingredients, apart from the sugar, into a heavy based saucepan and cook  on a low heat for 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh seive into a clean pan, squashing as much through as possible. Add the sugar and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes and pour into sterilised bottles or jars.

Hope you like it !

Foraging at Brimham Rocks

Over the weekend we had a free afternoon and made our way up to Yorkshire gritstone country. Brimham Rocks in Nidderdale is high moorland dotted with huge rock formations. We weren’t rock climbing………those days are long gone..!!  but there are lots of Bilberries there and Cowberries too.

This Bilberry picker makes the job very fast. You comb it through the plants and berries fall into the back of the box. My advice if you get one though, is to use it when there are lots of fruit on the bushes otherwise you end up with lots of loose leaves mixed in with the bilberries and then you spend ages sorting it all out. It is quite late in the season now but we got cowberries as well as they ripen later.

Cowberries are known as Lingenberries in Finland and are served with salmon or reindeer. The  great thing about them is that they have natural preservatives in them and can be stored in a jar just covered with water. There were lots at Brimham as most people don’t realise that they are edible.

We decided to have an experiment and picked some heather to try to preserve the delicate flavour of the flowers. We have layered them in sugar and hope that the flavour will be in the sugar ready to make into syrup at this weekend’s wild food course.

Hedgerow Ketchup

Try this ketchup with rabbit and apple burgers…! If you don’t have any of those to hand it’s good with eggs, cheese or meat.

I collected mostly Hawthorn Haws for this sauce, but for variety I added some rosehips, blackberries, sloes, and elderberries. This pan full of berries is actually the one I used.

  • 1kg mixed hedge berries, (mainly haws)
  • 500ml cider vinegar
  • 100ml malt vinegar
  • 600ml water
  • 300g sugar
  • salt and pepper

Put the berries, vinegars, and water in a pan and simmer for 40 mins until the colour comes out of the berries, squash through a seive into a clean pan and add the sugar. Bring gently to the boil, add salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Bottle in sterilised bottles or jars.

Hedge Wine

I’m sorry this looks so complicated but I’ve tried to explain everything. If you haven’t made wine before hopefully you won’t go wrong.  

This wine is lovely but as with all country wine making you have to have a bit of time and quite a lot of patience!

You will need a wine making bucket with a 1 gallon mark on it and a lid, 2 x 1 gallon demijohns, a large funnel, a jelly bag or sheet of muslin, a bung and airlock to fit the demijohn, syphon tubing and 6 wine bottles – either with good lids or buy corks and a corking device. You will also need chemical sterilizer available at wine making supplier.

  • 1.5lb mixed hedgerow fruits (eg. Haws, blackberries, sloes, rose hips, elderberries)
  • 6oz raisins – chopped
  • 2.5lb sugar
  • Pectin destroying enzyme (pectolase)as per packet instructions
  • 2tsp citric acid
  • 2 campden tablets
  • 1tsp yeast
  • 1tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1tsp potassium sorbate
  • Finings (as per packet instructions)

Day 1.Pick over the fruit, taking out any leaves stalks etc. Put them into the wine bucket with the chopped raisins and sugar. Pour boiling water into the bucket to just above the 1 gallon mark. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cover loosely and leave until just luke warm.

Add the pectin destroying enzyme, citric acid and a crushed campden tablet, and stir well, cover the bucket but not tightly. Leave for 12 hrs

Day 1.Pick over the fruit, taking out any leaves stalks etc. Put them into the wine bucket with the chopped raisins and sugar. Pour boiling water into the bucket to just above the 1 gallon mark. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cover loosely and leave until just luke warm.

Add the pectin destroying enzyme, citric acid and a crushed campden tablet, and stir well, cover the bucket but not tightly. Leave for 12 hrs

Day 2. Add yeast and Yeast nutrient and stir. Always put the lid back on but not tightly.

Days 3.4.5.6. Every day for the next 4 days you need to stir the wine with a sterile spoon, cover as before. Try to keep the wine at about 20oC

Day 7. Sterilise your demijohn, jelly bag, funnel, bung and airlock and spoon if using. Strain the wine through the jelly bag into the demijohn using the funnel. Fit the bung and airlock. (put boiled water in the airlock) Again keep the temperature as close to 20oC as poss. Leave for approx 15 days until the wine stops fermenting.

Day 22. Sterilise your other demijohn, airlock and bung, and the siphon tubing. Syphon the wine into the clean demijohn leaving the sediment behind. Add 1 crushed campden tablet and 1 tsp Potassium sorbate. (this stops fermentation)

Day 23. Swish the wine around in the demijohn to remove gas.

Day 24. Sterilise the 1st demijohn again and it’s bung and airlock and the siphon tubing. Syphon the wine into the clean demijohn leaving any sediment behind. Put the wine in a place now where it can settle out and won’t get knocked or moved  – you will need to be able to get to it later to siphon it out.

Day 42. Your wine should be clear as a bell. Now sterilize your bottles and siphon tubing and carefully fill the bottles without disturbing the sediment in the bottom of the demijohn. This is best done by 2 people one filling bottles and one making sure the tube doesn’t pick up sediment. Cork or cap your bottles I sterilise mine by putting them in boiling water for a few minutes

…You can drink it straight away but it improves for keeping, I would keep it for at least 3 months or a year if you can.

Hedge Chutney

By popular demand, my best recipe from last Autumn – so said lots of people on courses during the year.

Hedge Chutney

This is an adaptation of an old chutney recipe but uses hedgerow fruits to flavour the vinegar.


2lb mixed hedgerow fruits – e.g Hawthorn haws, Rose hips, Elderberries, Blackberries, Rowan berries, Sloes,
1pt Malt vinegar
2 lbs Onions chopped
2 lbs Apples peeled and chopped (a mixture of eaters and cookers is good)
4 oz Sultanas
4 oz Raisins
1lb Dark brown sugar
1 tsp Ground cloves
1 pinch Cayenne pepper
1 tsp Nutmeg

Place the chopped apples and onions in a bowl, cover and leave overnight.
To make the fruit vinegar, remove any large stalks and leaves from the berries, rinse and dry them and put them into a large pan.  Cover with the malt vinegar, heat and simmer for 30 minutes until the berries are losing their colour.
Strain off the liquid and discard the fruit. You should have about a pint of gorgeous fruity vinegar.

Next day put all the ingredients (including your vinegar) into a large pan and boil together for 2 hours, stirring frequently.
Put in sterilised jars and cover. The chutney is best left for a month or so to mellow before eating. But it’s worth the wait!!

Easiest Jam

Haw and Crab apple jelly

I made this yesterday as an experiment and it was really easy. The taste is quite fruity but tart and almost smoky. Excellent on hot buttered toast. We agree that the tastes will go well with cheese  or cold meat and Chris says he could put it in a sauce to go with game.

  • 1lb Hawthorn haws,
  • 1lb Crab apples roughly chopped – cores and all
  • juice of a lemon,
  • 1lb sugar,

Pick off the leaves and stalks from the haws and put them into a large pan with the crab apples. Cover the fruit with water and bring to a simmer, cook for 30 mins or until the colour has gone from the haws to the liquid. Strain through a fine mesh seive into a measuring jug. You should have 1 pint of liquid. (Adjust if necessary)

Now put your jam jars and lids, on a tray, in the oven at 120oC. Put the liquid into a clean pan with the strained lemon juice and sugar. Bring slowly to the boil stirring. Keep an eye on the boiling jam, mine reached a setting point in just a few minutes. This is because there is so much pectin in the apples, It set at 100oC. Test for setting by putting a bit onto a cold saucer and then after a few seconds seeing if it wrinkles when you push your finger through it. When setting point is reached pour it into your sterilised jars. put the lids on while it’s still warm.

Rosehip Syrup

Rosehip syrup made mid October when the rose hips are as red as possible before they start to rot.

This recipe makes about 1.75 ltr

  • 500g clean ripe rosehips
  • 650g sugar
  • 1tsp citric acid

Mince, chop,or blitz the rosehips in a food processor. Boil 800ml water in a large pan and add the rosehips. Bring back to the boil, cover and remove from the heat. Leave to infuse for 15 minutes – covered. Strain through a jelly bag or muslin into a large jug. – Leave to drip for an hour or so and save the pulp.

Put the strained juice in the fridge and boil another 800ml of water in the large pan. Add the rosehip pulp to the pan and bring it back to the boil, take off the heat and cover. Leave the pan for 15 minutes and then strain through the jelly bag as before. This time leave it to drip for a good few hours overnight if it’s still dripping.

All together you will have about 1 litre of juice. Put this in a large pan with the sugar and citric acid. Bring to the boil stirring to dissolve the sugar, then boil for 2-3 minutes and bottle in warm

Sloe Gin

I pick the sloes usually before there is a frost and put them into the freezer for a few days.

These quantities are dictated by the size of my big glass jar. But you don’t need to worry too much about the exact measurements. We prefer our Sloe Gin not too sweet, so this is my recipe-

  • 1.25kg sloes (either pricked with a darning needle or stored in the freezer for a few days)
  • 250g sugar
  • half tsp almond extract (the type that’s in alcohol, not oil)
  • 1.65 ltr Gin

Put all the ingredients in a large jar and shake it every hour until the sugar has dissolved. Then shake the jar every day for a week and then every week untill the gin is ready. ..Probably just before Chrismas. Taste it to see if it has enough fruit flavour. If not leave it longer, if it’s good strain it through the finest mesh possible into sterile bottles.     Yum

Gooseberry and Elderflower

May in North Yorkshire and the Elderflowers are out. There are wild gooseberries in the woods too and I have been preserving the flavours.

Under ripe gooseberries are best for jam as they have plenty of pectin in and the jam sets well. We didn’t have enough gooseberries so my kind neighbour gave me some from her garden. (they were under ripe …hard and green – perfect)

Gooseberry and Elderflower Jam   Makes 1 x 454g (1lb) jar

This was an experiment so I only made a small quantity if you want more scale it up… I will make more next time The elderflower scent comes through well and it really is nice and unusual.

  • 250g under ripe gooseberries washed
  • 3 heads of Elderflowers
  • 250 g sugar
  • 200ml water

Top and tail the gooseberries and cut them in half. Put them in a pan with the Elderflowers on top and add the water. Cover and cook gently until the fruit is soft then remove the flowers and stir. Add the sugar and bring to the boil. Meanwhile put your jar/s in the oven at 120oC to sterilize. Boil the jam until it reaches a setting point (mine was 102oC) and then pour into jar/s and cover when cool enough to handle.


Gooseberry and Elderflower vodka  Makes approx 750ml

This is a revalation… If you like Gin and tonic try this as a delicious summery alternative.

  • 250g under ripe Gooseberries washed
  • 5 large Elderflower heads
  • 5 desertspoons caster sugar
  • 1 bottle vodka
  • 125g sugar
  • 125ml water

Top and tail the gooseberries and cut them in half. Put them in a large bottle or jar with the elderflowers, add 5 desertspoons of caster sugar and enough vodka to cover. give it a good shake to dissolve the sugar and put it in a dark cupboard for 4 days shaking occasionally. After this the vodka will have taken on a good flavour. Strain off the fruit and flowers and all you have to do now is sweeten it. Put the remaining 125g sugar and 125ml water in to a pan, dissolve it to make a syrup and add it to the flavoured vodka.

Serve with chilled tonic water and ice

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