Home Made Chutneys / Preserves, Storing advice ?

Discussion in 'Recipes & Remedies' started by Diggman, Sep 1, 2015.

  1. Diggman

    Diggman Junior Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm hoping someone in the know can answer these questions (or some of), I will be for the first time, cooking and storing (bottling) sauces, chutneys and even making cider this year after having invested in the glassware and reading a few good articles such as the one on cider making.

    I've luckily gotten hold of around 2kgs of Plums (variety unknown) and got some other ingredients for a recipe I found, according to what I've read, chutney takes around 3 months to develop it's flavour, now, before those three months, if I opened one bottle to start using, will it need refrigeration? I kind of get the impression that with chutney, there is no big worry about the seal of the jar, ie: no need for a tight seal? But I could easily be wrong ... I just have seen people being very specific about a clean seal when jarring tomato sauces, jams etc. but I don't seem to come across the same for the chutney recipes I have been looking at. How long will their shelf life be if unopened?

    I have the jars with new lids etc. I have pots to cook the sauces etc in and a large pot to boil the jars and lids in for sterilizing, I don't have the ''jar tongs'' etc. But, I am 100% confident that one of you have some old school tricks / advice for me which will prevent the need for me to go buy another product :)

    finally, in the Cider Making article on the main site, the guy uses a large 1 gallon jar, problem is I simply cannot find any jars this big with a large or reasonably large top to dump all the apple chunks into, i did manage to find ''Demijohns'' but their necks are too thin and I suspect the apples will get stuck. Is there any special names that large jars are known by? I was not aware of the name ''Demijohn'' and hence this prevented me from finding them in any online searches until a friend told me the name. I want to avoid using any plastics so buckets are out of the question.

    Thanks :)
     
  2. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i'm not familiar with chutneys as a whole, but things with a lot of sugar/salt and high enough acid content are usually ok at room temperature for storage, but after opening i'd refrigerate.

    usually the idea behind having a good seal is to prevent microbes, bugs and other critters from getting into your food. so for most items that have any food value a good seal is important. as an example, i had some bags of grains here in storage and i thought i had them well sealed in plastic bags, but some bugs will chew through plastic bags. oops. i had a major mess on my hands cleaning out the area where the bugs were going to take over. luckily most of them were still in the bags so the birds outdoors got a feast of both bugs and grains...

    shelf life varies, sorry but that's tough to say with much precision. i have some jams that are still good and they are going on five years in contrast i have other things that after a year are questionable.

    the most basic stuff for canning is to know when you have to BWB vs. pressure canning, but if you have a good pressure canner you can skip the BWB as long as you watch your times because you don't want to turn stuff to mush.

    you mention reading some articles, but there is a good canning site as a reference:

    https://nchfp.uga.edu/


    as for supplies and materials sometimes you can find crocks and larger containers at wine and beer making supply places.
    funnels for food production are available and/or can be made to help things go in and out of jars more easily. hoses for siphoning and knowing how to start a siphon smoothly/safely.
     
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  3. Diggman

    Diggman Junior Member

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    Thanks Songbird! :)

    I read your reply offline and went ahead with it all, so far so good! I've made the plum and tomato chutneys, apple cider (still brewing), one jam and one jelly all from foraged or home grown produce (most of which would have just been left to rot if I hadn't passed by).
    Thanks also for the link, will save it and read through.

    Do you know, in terms of jams, jellies and chutneys, does the fruit have to be ripe / super ripe? I made a wild fruit jam and a crab apple jelly where less than 50% of foraged fruit was ripe and the taste is not bad, being a newbie in preservation, I might not have the taste knowledge to define what is good or low quality. The jam leaves a slight after taste which is a bit hard to describe, it's not nice on a spoon but tastes good thinly spread on toast and great on a sandwich. Then the jelly is quite strong / sharp, I've never eaten apple jelly before so not sure if this is how its meant to taste, its good on toast and quite weak on a sandwich ...

    cheers for now :)
     
  4. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    if you are not adding more pectin to a jam or jelly some fruits have more pectin in them when they are on the less ripe side. a good example is concord grapes, which the recipe says to make sure to have a certain proportion of greener fruits. this varies by fruit and so is hard to say for sure for a general case. also, like tomatoes, the canning recipe i follow says to pick them before they get overripe. we pick ours when they are mostly red, but some have a little green left in them. juice and chunks turn out great. this is one of those "it varies" things as to when best put up a particular fruit.

    green apples (unripe and sour) are a source of pectin, the amount varies by apple variety.

    as for taste, that is the joy of doing your own and learning as you go. i've never done much with wild fruits or crab apples, but i do know of people who use crab apple juice to dilute other juices so they can be stretched further (black raspberry, grape, etc.). i know that some varieties of crab apples are more edible than others.

    the difference between a commercial grape jam and what i've made is so stark that i've not bought grape jam since. we used to have a concord grape vine, the result is tart and very full of flavor, i have another year or two supply before i have to make any more. the commercial stuff is too sweet and not very tart.
     
  5. Diggman

    Diggman Junior Member

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    Just an update, all of my jams, jellies and chutneys from last year (Sept onwards 2015) have been great, the Only failure was one jar of Tomato Sauce which inevitably, was in a Kilner jar, the others were in the cheap Ikea jars as well as re-used honey / shop jars. thanks for all of your previous inputs Songbird, it's good to see you are also still active on the site.

    cheers
     
  6. Diggman

    Diggman Junior Member

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    PS: The ''crab'' apples I was urban foraging for tuned out to be trees that have grown from seed probably by a discarded core, the apples were bigger than crab apples yet half the size of smaller dessert apples, the interesting thing is that, I made two batches of jelly, the first was quite tarty and the second was sweet like most jam (the second batch was weeks after the first and I also included some normal apples in as well), however in comparison, the tartier one was my favourite of the two and I may have stumbled upon a new recipe due to being over enthusiastic and making the first jelly too soon :)
     
  7. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    hey, glad things have mostly turned out for you with your experiments!

    good learning experience there for the tartness. i'm similar, i like my
    grapes, apples, etc on the more tart side. for apple sauce and apple
    butter it doesn't matter as much, but i often will add more lemon juice
    to give them a bit more zip. even when making blueberry pies i will
    often add extra lemon juice. :)

    for the wild apples they are also very good sliced and dried in a dehydrator,
    even if they are a bit tart to eat fresh, by the time they dry that sweetens
    them up a bit. :) i had an old friend who would drive around the country
    backroads looking for old trees and use their fruit. :)

    cheers, thanks for being appreciative. :) it is getting into the really busy part
    of the season for us here. tomatoes starting to come in, making pickles,
    etc.
     

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