My Vacola rubber rings and clips arrived and I was eager to start! I already had the pear recipe ready that I had found on the internet and the fruit that I had bought previously. The recipe was for Belgian Pears went something like this...
150ml white wine vinegar
Peel pears leaving stalks on. Melt sugar and vinegar together. Add pears and simmer for 3 hours with lid on. Remove lid and simmer for another 3 hours. Put into jars and sterilise.
I did four times this recipe and as I didn't have any white wine vinegar I used a mixture of vinegars that I had to make up the amount needed.. it ended up being a concoction of red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, apple cider vinegar and regular white vinegar! The red wine vinegar gave it a lovely rosy colour and it all tasted yummy. It all went to plan except I added a little water at the beginning to make sure my pears had enough liquid in the pot to stop them from catching on the bottom, after that they produced their own sweet liquid to keep them covered during the long cooking process. I thought that after six hours of cooking they would have lost their shape and gone sloppy but they held well and were easy to scoop into the jars looking all pear shaped inside! I am yet to try them but I love looking at them sitting together on my shelves!
I also made about 7 jars of tomato chutney. I read a few recipes, got the idea, and then made up a batch with what I had. All chutneys use the same principles of tomato, fruit (I used up the last of the pears), vinegar, sugar and spices. I was really happy with how this turned out and we are already plowing through our first jar!
I was really surprised as to how far the ingredients went. I always thought that to make it worth while you would need 5-10 kgs of fruit or vegetable to be able to bottle a reasonable amount. But I got loads of chutney from about 4kgs of tomatoes, enough to last probably half the year (if I don't give it all away!). I realise now that it is definitely possible to grow enough fruit and veg to sustain us at the time and also ample to preserve and make lots of products from. Now I just need to watch my tomato seedlings grow so that I can make a batch of green tomato chutney next!