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Pam the Jam
on 21 August 2008
Hugh Fearney-Whittingstall hired Pam Corbin to organise River Cottage's Preserving Days, and she's done him proud with this handbook. She's fairly strongly pro-bottling, pickling and general jamming, and is keen to remind us that's just how life was, not very long ago. For her, preserving is not just a fun activity, it's a way of using up seasonal gluts and honoring the ebb and flow of the vegetable world.
She's meticulous on health and safety in a modern up-to-date way, and there's some really useful stuff I've never seen before, like sterilising, filling and sealing tables - chutneys are treated slightly differently than marmalades etc, which makes you feel in incredibly safe hands. And three different tests for setting! Encyclopedic!
Of course the real test is the recipes, which others have already recommended. I like the fact that each one is on its own page, that the design is beautiful, and that there's lots of illustrations to tempt me. I also like the seasonal advice that tells you when to make a particular preserve.
Also, Pam suggests tempting useful variations to each (Whiskey marmalade; indian spices like fenugreek in the rhubarb relish; pickled crab apples instead of pears).
Things I was delighted to know how to make: passata; harissa; quince jelly (for manchego); italian figs in mustard sauce.
Things I am amazed to know how to make: hawthorn ketchup; compost heap jelly; nasturtium capers; fruit "leather".
Honestly, buy it, have a go, it's such good fun.
Update, 12 Jan 2009 - just made the whole fruit marmalade - the most delicious marmalade ever!