Everything for preserving

Everything for preserving

Posted by The Wares Team on 8th Jul 2020

We’ve talked in recent blog posts about how the current Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have brought about some perhaps unexpected changes in the way that people think about the food they eat, where it comes from and how secure that supply chain really is.

With a reluctance to go out shopping too often and widespread shortages, especially in the early days of lockdown, more and more people have started to consider how they can ensure that they have plenty of food in store to feed their families, without the thoughtless stockpiling that was seen at the beginning of the crisis. Having more time on our hands generally has also meant that more and more of us have started to consider home preserves as a strategy for reducing our reliance on supermarket shopping.

Whilst preserving in all its forms is fairly simple to get into, having the right preserving equipment can make life a lot easier for the home preserves enthusiast and there are plenty of specialist tools for those that want to take things further. In today’s blog post, we thought we would run through these tools and accessories, to provide an outline of what you need for each different type of preserving project.

What preserving equipment do I need?

The answer to this question really depends on what you want to preserve. Since most people start their home preserves journey with a batch of jam, let’s look at the typical jam making equipment basics. One of the best items to start with is a good maslin pan. Maslin pans are solid and robust, with a thick base, a pouring lip, and a swing handle. Many are marked with a measuring scale inside the pan so you can see exactly how many litres of liquid you have in the pan. Choose a pan that you will be comfortable lifting - if weight is an issue, there are smaller pans available, but obviously, you will only be able to make smaller batches of jam in a smaller pan.

Another key piece of jam making equipment is a jam thermometer. Your Grandma probably taught you how to tell if your jam had reached setting point by using a plate that had been chilled in the freezer, but for a more accurate and reliable method, a jam thermometer is essential. These thermometers usually have a clip so that they can be fixed to the side of your maslin pan, and a large face so that you can see the temperature easily. With a proper jam thermometer, there’s no second guessing with the set - your jam has either reached 105°C or it hasn’t!

The next bit of jam making equipment that is guaranteed to make your life easier is a jam straining kit. This is essential if you want to make perfectly clear jellies as well as jams and it will also come in handy if you branch out into making elderflower cordial, for example. There are lots of other preserves that benefit from straining, so this little item will soon repay the investment.

The final gadget that will appeal to jam makers is a jam funnel. It can be hard to tip a heavy maslin pan accurately to pour your jam into jars, so a jam funnel is the answer. It will keep your jam away from the sides of your jam jars, ensuring a perfectly neat and non-sticky finish and a professional look.

As we’ve said before in our blog, the finishing touches really do make a big difference with home preserves, so it’s important to think about things like labels and lid covers. These are available in all sorts of colourful designs and they can really make your jams and chutneys stand out from the crowd. If you’re thinking of giving some jars of your own homemade produce as gifts to friends and families, spending some time and effort on the presentation will be even more worthwhile.

Don’t forget the jars and bottles

Whether you’re rustling up a batch of strawberry jam or making some delicious elderflower cordial, you will always need plenty of good quality jars and bottles. Instead of re-using shop-bought jars and bottles, invest in a good range of jam jars, sauce bottles and drinks bottles. Using a consistent style of jar or bottle, all with nice clean lids, will make a real difference to your sense of achievement and satisfaction - we guarantee it.

Whilst jams are usually made in 1 lb jars, there are all sorts of other shapes and sizes available that suit other preserving projects. Honey is often presented in hexagonal jars for example, and jellies that are intended for serving with cold meats and cheeses are often made using slightly smaller jars, to account for the fact that it generally takes longer to use up a whole jar.

Are you a recent home preserves convert? What preserving equipment have you found to be indispensable, and what bits of kit are on your shopping list? Share your stories via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram...