I’m a guy. Not always a stereotypical male (I was a jazz-dancing, figure-skating, sequence-wearing kid after all) but I do sometimes fall into the trappings of all things male. When I started focusing on preserving as a way to augment our pantry I fell into a mindset that’s an absolute cliché for the male species (being fair, this also applies to many females I know as well but I need to tell a story so I’m sticking to it):
More is better.
I was practically a neanderthal. I didn’t know what I was going to do with 24 jars of strawberry jam but I wanted to have them.
I like to think that I’ve somewhat mellowed:
Over they years since graduation from caveman pre-school, I’ve taken a new definition of ‘more” when it comes to preserving. What I used to measure in quantity of jars (quality being a baseline requirement), I now measure in variety of options. I would far rather have 8 different types of preserves in 50 jars than 4 different types of preserves in 100 jars.
The only downside of diversity is storage. Our ‘Great Wall of Preserves‘ was set up to store quantity. The deep shelves allow me to ‘front’ 2-3 different preserves per cubicle and store a quantity of them in its deep recesses. When moving to variety, the challenge becomes very different (our pantry contains more than 150 different single-batch jars from infusions to dehydrated goods to one-off jars that were gifted or swapped their way in to the kitchen). I’m thinking that it will soon be time for a formal inventory system within our gridded storage wall and there’s something a little too formal for my likings with that.
If storing is my biggest problem, I’m willing to live with the sacrifice.
Diversifying my pantry has taken some time to do. We had to eat through all of that initial jam and we had to learn a lot more about preserving in general. Diversity means that I make 2-4 different batches of preserves with the same ingredient at the same time – not exactly the time to be researching recipes, getting confused between them or trying to figure out what preserve is in what pot and what each needs.
That’s where preserving cordial – or concentrated juice (also refered to as ‘beena’ like when we made our rhubarbeena) comes in. It’s a simple way to increase your variety while adding a small amount of work. It’s also extremely flexible in that you can use almost any amount of fruit that you want and you’ll have an additional option in your pantry with the flick of a wrist (ok, so it’s a bit more than that). The fact that this preserve is a concentrate is also a bonus in that it takes less storage space than it could if it was stored ‘as served.’
To drink a cordial like this, simply add 2-4 parts water (vodka or brandy also counts if you want to use it as part of your ‘water’) and serve chilled over ice or add some bubbly water to it. Cocktails are limitless. You can also cook with it in many ways including adding it to salad dressings, adding a small bit it to rice as it cooks or use it in baking.
- Wash your fruit and slice in half (I don’t pit it).
- Weigh your fruit.
- Add 30% of the weight in sugar.
- Place the mixture in a wide sauce pan and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.
- Boil for 5-10 minutes.
- Pour the mixture in a strainer/ colander, cover and leave for 12-24 hours. I have a trick of using 3 different strainers. Optional: I start with a colander designed for noodles with giant holes, transfer the strained liquid to a finer mesh strainer before processing through a very-fine mesh strainer so that most of the initial liquid can be put in the fridge very quickly.
- On the next day, heat the liquid again fill hot, sterilized 1/2 pint (1 cup jars). Process for 10 minutes.
What are your favourite cordials?