Preserving info Cooking Tips
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Preserving info and tips will help you in your cooking and food preparation.These are very useful and quite interesting information that you learn once and then apply at any time you need it.
There are certain items of equipment which will help to make your preserving easier but they are not essential.
A heavy gauge aluminiumpreservingpan will last a lifetime and has the advantage of being wide and open at the top (so the vinegar can reduce more effectively). However a large thickbased saucepan without the lid of course can quite safely be used instead.
Likewise preserving jars which seal down with their own lids are useful but not vital: any sized jar filled to the top will do. But a couple of words of warning: vinegar corrodes metal so make sure your lids are plasticlined when bottling pickles and chutney. Paper or cellophane covers are fine for jams and marmalade but not for pickles: they are not completely airtight and the vinegar will inevitably evapourate during long storage and the chutney will shrink.
Ordinary gauze (from the chemist) is perfectly adequate for holding the spices to suspend in the chutney and waxed paper discs for sealing can be bought from most stationers. In an emergency you can cut your own from the waxed paper found in breakfast cereal packets.
Your chutney is ready when the vinegar has reduced sufficiently. You can test this by running a wooden spoon across the surface of the chutney to make a channel in it: if this channel remains imprinted for a few seconds without being filled with vinegar then the chutney is ready.
When testing for a set with jam or marmalade a cooking thermometer clipped to the side of the pan can be some guide (though I confess the steam doesnt make reading it any easier). Setting point should be reached when the mixture reaches 220¡F (104¡C). However there is an alternative which I invariably use and that is the cold plate test
For this you need to have about four small plates ready in the freezing compartment of the fridge. When the fruit has boiled for the stipulated time take the pan off the heat and place a teaspoonful of the jam on to one of the chilled plates. Let it cool for a few seconds then push it with your finger: if you can see that a crinkly skin has formed on the surface of the jam it has set. It not boil it for a further 5 minutes then repeat the test and so on until a skin forms.
Bottling and storing
Before you use any jar for preserving it should be washed in warm soapy water (lids as well) then thoroughly rinsed in warm water and well dried with a clean towel. To be on the safe side I pop the jars into a moderate oven for 5 minutes and pour the preserve in while the jars are hot. Chutney can be poured in as soon as its ready but leave jams and marmalades for 15 30 minutes after setting (so the fruits can settle).
Fill the jars as far up to the neck as possible then immediately place a waxed disc over the surface. Stick the labels on the jars when cold otherwise they will very soon peel off. Store in a cool dry and preferably dark place and in the case of chutneys leave them for at least 3 months before eating so that they can mature nicely.
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