Depending on your kitchen speciality you will need the right equipment. Whether you see yourself as a master chef or amateur baker you need the right tools. As preservers we thought we would list what you might need to follow in our footsteps.
To make your pickles and chutneys, you’re going to be needing the tools of the trade. A few specialist items will make life a lot easier and speed things up a bit, but usually you’ll have most of the basics already, such as measuring spoons and cups, chopping boards, a set of sharp knives etc. A hint here, put a magnetic notebook on your refrigerator and make a Wishlist as you go along. Hand this over, not too discreetly though, at Christmas or your birthday and before long you’ll have a beautifully equipped kitchen!
The following list will help you along:
A preserving pan is used for sterilizing your jars and for completing the bottling process when making certain preserves, by simmering them in boiling water for about 10 min. It must be deep enough for the water to cover the jars completely.
A very handy item to measure the perfect setting point when making certain jams and jellies. Make sure you get one that can measure temperatures up to at least 110°F or 230°C.
Straining fruit pulp through a jelly bag gives a beautiful clear product.
Straining fruit pulp through a jelly bag gives a beautiful clear product.110°C / 230°F, and with a clip or handle that can attach to the side of the pan.
When making fruit jellies, you need to strain the cooked fruit pulp to get a clear product. Some jelly bags have their own stands and others have loops with which to suspend the bag. You can also make your own by layering a few squares of muslin in a large stainless steel sieve.
Jars and Bottles
Different types of jars are needed for making pickles, chutneys and preserves. Large wide-necked jars are used for whole or large pieces of fruits or vegetables, but the smaller to medium sizes are better suited to chopped pickles and chutneys. Small jars are ideal for relishes.
Sieves and Colanders
These are a must have in any kitchen and even more so when you are constantly washing and rinsing fruit and veggies for your preserves. Use only plastic, nylon or stainless steel as metals eventually rust away due to the acidic nature of preserving ingredients.
Zesters and Canelle Knives
A zester has five little holes on its cutting edge, it removes fine strands of citrus rind, which is ideal for use in relishes or chutneys.
A canelle knife has a v-shaped tooth that pares thin strips of peel from fruit and vegetables, leaving behind a striped effect. Whole preserved oranges and lemons look stunning when prepared this way.
Preserve all your low-acid foods including meat in a pressure canner.
A pressure canner is used to preserve foods that contain low amounts of acid, such as meats, potatoes, green beans and beets. The acid in food is usually what helps preserve it, but in the case of low acid foods, the use of higher temperatures does the actual preserving. And that is where a pressure canner is invaluable.
Use stainless steel box graters with a selection of sides of differing surfaces. A fine surface is ideal for nutmeg and citrus rind, and a coarse side will do fine for vegetables and hard fruits.
Food Mills / Processors
Investing in a good quality hand or electric mincer/ food processor will save a lot of time when having to process large quantities of produce. A mortar and pestle is perfect for grinding small amounts of spices, for larger amounts and a finer powder, use a spice mill or coffee grinder kept solely for this purpose.