Who doesn’t love a British summer? There’s sunshine, and there’s blue sky, and there are festivals and events galore. The shoes come off and the spirits rise. Rainy spells and lack of sporting glory notwithstanding: this really is a time of year when our cups appear to runneth over.
That sense of abundance applies also to much of the local, seasonal produce that’s on offer, which is great news to the budget-conscious cook: a bumper crops mean bargain prices – not to mention the fact that ‘homegrown’ looks and tastes a million times better than any import you could hope to buy out of season. But by the same token, if you’re someone who – quite rightly – has issues with the idea of wasting food, then knowing what to do it with all can be daunting. After all, there’s only so much batch-cooking you can do and only so much you can fit in the average freezer anyway.
So may we turn your attention to the ancient arts of pickling and preserving, which will allow you to make the most of all of the flavours that summer brings, well into the colder months. From pickles and chutneys to jams and sauces, there are few things that don’t lend themselves well to being bottled – and while we can appreciate the fact that many people may not have oodles of cupboard storage space in their kitchens, bear in mind that ‘things in jars’ make some of the nicest gifts.
With the recent rise in interest in ‘clean’ eating and some of its close cousins – raw foodism, for example – dehydrating is also gaining in popularity as a way of stopping food from spoiling while preserving flavour and nutrients. You can invest in a dehydrator if you like but your oven will do just as decent a job.
We’re also super keen on the idea of fruit leathers, which pack a sweet punch without any nasties and make fantastic year-round additions to packed lunches. Here’s a basic recipe to get you started, but this is just the start. Get creative and experiment with other fruits or combinations of fruit.
Oh, and just a word about those aforementioned rainy spells. Many of these preserving ideas require a bit of time and love – so they’re perfect projects to undertake, with or without young helpers – on days when ‘outdoors’ is a less than inviting prospect…