Originally from South America, tomatoes were first grown in the UK as ornamental climbers, and cultivated for their decorative leaves and fruit. The Elizabethans thought the fruit was poisonous and the colour a sign of danger. By the 19th century, commercial cultivation of tomatoes became popular with the appearance of glasshouses in Kent and Essex. With thousands of varieties, well known types include; Cherry and Cocktail, Plum and Baby Plum, Beefsteak and Classic. The most popular for use in cooking and preserving are Classic and Beefsteak.
I grow tomatoes to eat and preserve as chutneys, sauces and chilli jam. In late summer, my small tomato greenhouse is full of plants with an abundant crop. For preserves, I grow “Ferline F1”. Their ripened flavour and deep red colour are perfect for Red Tomato Chutney and Ripe Tomato Sauce. Continue reading Tomatoes – Grow and Preserve
As the festive season draws near, my thoughts turn to making preserves to give as gifts.
The “what can I give” question is answered quickly with a collection of attractively packaged jars, although a gift from me will be free of gingham.
Each year I return to favourite recipes for Mincemeat, Jellies and Chutneys. This year a glut of chillies has encouraged me to widen my range of chilli preserves beyond chutneys, jams and marmalades. Chilli Jam is an uncomplicated recipe with a small list of ingredients. I vary the heat of the jam by using different chillies.This year, with over 20 varieties to choose from, I have opted for a number of Habaneros. Serve Chilli Jam with cheese, cold meats and seafood.
Candied Peel is a different product to the chopped peel found in supermarkets. A display of Amalfi lemons, in a local grocery store inspired me to rediscover Candied Peel, Continue reading Easy Edible Gifts
In the UK the chilli industry has an estimated value of £14.5million. In recent years, Chilli Festivals have grown in popularity. First staged in 1995, West Dean Chilli Fiesta is the largest and most popular.Visitors can view 300 different chilli peppers growing in pots in restored Victorian Glasshouses, displayed in perfect rows in every shape and size ranging from cool green through to red hot. Over 150 stallholders sell chilli related items including plants, seeds, sauces and prepared meals as well as beer, chocolate, ice cream, clothing and jewellery. This event has spawned festivals all over the country. Continue reading Hot Chilli Festivals and Chilli Jam