Delicious recipes for homemade winter preserves

Winter is coming. The temperatures are dropping and the days are getting shorter and darker all the time. So what could be better than closing the door behind you and enjoying something delicious in your cozy home?

The events of the past year have seen us spend far more time at home than we’re used to. Over the past few months, many of us have rediscovered the pleasure of home cooking by getting stuck in at the stove, dusting off that family recipe book and using up all those forgotten ingredients lurking at the back of the cupboard.

Many people love making preserves – and luckily they’re also among the easiest things to create at home, provided you stick to a few key rules. We’ve put together a few simple ideas on tasty winter preserves to make at home and bring out on any occasion.

Fancy something savory? The best winter vegetables for preserving

Virtually even food cupboard or pantry in the land will have a jar of some preserved vegetable or another, often a homemade one prepared according to a family recipe.

To make a quality preserve, you need flavorings and spices, salt, vinegar, wine and oil – all of which you’re likely to have in the cupboards anyway! But it’s the quality of the ingredients used that is absolutely key. You need to use fresh vegetables – if they’re from your own garden or allotment, even better – and plenty of Carli Extra Virgin Olive Oil Fruttato, which will make your preserve even more delicious and special.

The potential ingredients list is a long one, but that’s only because there are various different ways of preserving vegetables, from the classic techniques of preserving in oil or vinegar to the most elaborate savory chutneys and Italian mostardas. Not many people know that mostardas can be made at home, perhaps using the last of the squash or pumpkin that we’ve exhausted all other uses for. Simply chop up into small pieces, boil and then cook in honey and wine before placing into jars. The mostarda can then be eaten with a selection of delicious aged cheeses.

As well as being a classic in Italian cuisine, vegetables preserved in oil or vinegar are perfect for when you have guests and you want to offer a quick yet delicious nibble, especially when you have unusual versions with vegetables like savoy cabbage, celeriac or broccoli. The more classic options like peppers or onions can be used to make savory chutneys to serve with cheeses, as part of a truly gourmet selection that will wow even the most discerning of palates.

Are your shelves already heaving with jars? Well, with Christmas on the way, why not keep a few aside to give as unique gifts? You could even jazz the jars up with decorations or a festive Christmas bow!

Delicious treats to indulge your sweet tooth

Some people like savory, but others simply can’t resist a delicious, sweet treat.

There are plenty of options here too, with something to suit every palate – from grape jelly to persimmon jam, pear jam and even boozy chestnuts.

Some of these recipes are more laborious than others, but your patience will pay off – and some – once you taste your creations.

Take delicious grape jelly for example. You need to have the time and patience to press the grapes and filter the juice, then heat this with sugar and lemon juice, but the result is delicious. Meanwhile, for boozy chestnuts – an excellent way of taking tarts and other desserts to the next level – you first need to roast the chestnuts, then peel them before preparing the syrup that will act as the preserving liquid (made from water, sugar, flavorings and liqueur).

Things like apple, pear or persimmon jam are a bit easier, however. In the latter case, you need to boil the flesh of the fruit with sugar and lemon, with the whole process taking about half an hour. These sweet jams work well with cheeses too, but they’re also delicious simply spread on a slice of bread.

How to preserve things safely

Anyone can make a preserve, but it’s really important that you take a few precautions to make sure the process is completely safe.
It’s vital that you use raw ingredients of the highest quality and pay very close attention to personal and kitchen hygiene. You then need to store your preserves in hermetically sealed containers which have undergone heat treatment to allow for stabilization and to ensure that the contents can be kept for long periods at room temperature without them undergoing changes.