Preserving in an age of austerity

kilner jam jarsWe live in an age of austerity. We’re told this all of the time and I believe it to be true. For me, this week marks the one year point since I was last in full-time work. Wow has that time flown. I have been self-employed and thus not ‘unemployed’. But even so. I ‘bring in’ vastly less than I did in my last ‘proper’ job. The realities of my changed circumstances are, though, somewhat beyond the scope of this post.

As I have said before – I haven’t bought bread in over a year. I can’t remember the last time I bought any kind of ‘ready meal’ – be it a pizza, a curry sauce, or anything else. I make everything from scratch. There are numerous upsides and also downsides to ‘working from home’ – but one of the upsides is that with no commute and flexible working hours, one has the time to mess around in the kitchen and to create things. As well as being vastly tastier – it’s significantly cheaper, too.

Next on my list is preserving. Jams, jellies, that sort of thing. Something that to the previous generation – those who lived through ‘heavy’ austerity – would be second nature, normal and par for the course. For my/our generation – it’s likely considered some kind of ‘food fad’. But I’m not doing it for fad. These days, I try to make whatever I can from scratch. As I said – not only do I prefer the taste, plus know exactly what’s in it – but it is cheaper, too. There is no denying that there is also a big sense of satisfaction derived from making something yourself.

So today I paid a visit to Robert Dyas (the UK iron-monger cum cookshop cum household appliances place) where I picked up most of the accoutrements required for preserving (tongs, labels, wax seals, funnel, muslin). I’d checked online and – even compared with the Amazons and Ebays – Robert Dyas was, on this occasion, cheaper than the usual suspects (they’re not always; one always ought to check).

A very successful haul from the library this morning (I love Westminster libraries, the range of books is enormous) – means that I now have all of the cookbooks that I could possibly need to get started.

So it’s now a case of deciding what I’m going to make first. Chutneys. James. Jellies. Pickled onions. Homemade ketchup. Lemon curd. Etcetera. Watch this space.

2 thoughts on “Preserving in an age of austerity

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  1. Now do you make you bread in a breadmaker? The husband and I were just discussing this idea. american bread is beyond dire….

    1. Nope, not a breadmaker but a ‘stand mixer’. Most well known brand is Kenwood Chef (which is the I have). The American KitchenAid ones are about twice the price – and look very nice. My cousin also has the bog standard Andrew James one (Amazon UK) which is about half the price of my one. All come with: dough hook, paddle beater, whisk. You can use them for so many things – mashed potatoes, whisking, any and every type of cake, whisking eggs, mayonnaise, etc. The dough hook basically takes all the work out of kneading which makes the whole thing much easier.

      Whilst I have never owned a break maker, I wouldn’t really recommend one from what I’ve heard from others (who use it once then it tends to stay in the cupboard). I believe it also leaves a hole in the bottom of the bread where the paddle turns, but I’m not sure.

      Food mixer you can’t go wrong – and the good ones (KitchenAid / Kenwood) can last half a lifetime. Let me know how you get on if you go down that route!

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