It’s a sickness.
It started many Christmas’ ago when I thought it would be a great tight-arse present to give people. Also, it’s brilliant to alleviate that cringe-worthy scenario when you receive an unexpected present and you’ve nought to give in return. This way, stuff some jam into their paws and you can pretend you were planning on giving them a gift all along.
I really do hate that though. It’s so awkward. It happened to me on the weekend, before I was all jammed up.
I suppose I need to be prepared from December 10th on, because any social gathering may end up in lop-sided gift awkwardness.
Another thing about gift giving is that is truly is an art. You know how some people ALWAYS give great presents, and other people give just ok ones? I’m an ok gift giver. I don’t seem to have the knack, but I can throw together a cracking hamper.
Stick to what you’re good at, I reckon.
I always plan to keep my hampers simple but then I get carried away because an anorexic hamper is just sad…..we like bountiful hampers. Abundant hampers. Hampers bursting with goodies that we can’t wait to sink our teeth into and we really don’t want to share.
This year’s hampers consist of –
- Spicy Peach Chutney
- Lime and Ginger Marmalade
- Spekulaas (Dutch christmas cookies)
- Chewy Salt Caramels
- Fruit and Nut Sourdough
Past years have had things like marinated olives, or preserved lemons, marinated feta and Mini-Christmas Cakes.
You can see why I curse them every Boxing Day, right?
Anyhoo, I’m going to share some hamper love with you guys so you too can get into the tight-arsed, home-made Christmas spirit.
Spicy Peach Chutney
Yield : 2 medium jars (I made 3 batches)
What you will need :
- 5 large ripe peaches, pitted and chopped
- 1 Granny Smith, peeled and chopped finely
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1cm ginger, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 300g caster sugar
There are different schools of thought about how to cook peach chutney, namely, putting things in one at a time and letting that cook and getting a nice caramelise jammy thing going before you put the peaches in…..I say HELL NO!!! I’m on a tight time frame….go, baby, go!!!
What to do :
Chuck your onion into a heavy based pan over a medium heat. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Add your mustard seeds, spices, garlic and ginger and stir to combine.
When fragrant, add apple, sugar and vinegar. Stir.
Chuck in your peaches and get it onto a nice boil.
Leave for one hour until it is nice and jammy and yummy.
Put into sterilised jars and seal.
Lime and Ginger Marmalade
If you don’t like zingy marmalade, I usually do this with a mixture of orange, lemon and grapefruit. It’s more mellow.
Yield : 6 jam jars
What you will need :
- 800g limes, ends removed and finely sliced
- 2 lemons, ends removed, finely sliced and seeds removed but kept to the side
- 1 kilo caster sugar
- 3cm ginger, finely chopped
Pop all of your fruit into a non-reactive bowl, and just cover with water. Leave overnight.
The next day, toss the fruit, water and all, into a large heavy-based pot and add your sugar and ginger.
Tie your seeds into a muslin (I just use a clean Chux wipe if I don’t have any) as they contain the pectin to help make your marmalade set.
Every recipe I’ve ever seen for jam says boil for 20 minutes, let me just say loud and proud, I HAVE NEVER MADE JAM IN 20 MINUTES.
Boil your jam, on a medium boil, for about 45 minutes. To test if it’s ready, place a saucer into the freezer and then drop some of your jam mixture onto the saucer. Run your finger through it and if it stays apart (think parting of the seas), then you’re ready to rock. Keep on a’boiling if she ain’t setting.
Pour into sterilised jars and seal.
Let’s have a chat about sterilising your jars. Here’s how I do it.
Stick your oven onto low, say 100C.
Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Gently lower your jars, and lids, into the boiling water and let them boil for 5 minutes.
Carefully remove and empty your jars and place them onto an oven tray. With steady hands, place your tray into the oven and leave the jars in there until they are dry.
Very carefully, put the hot jam, into the hot jars and seal tightly. As it cools it creates a vacuum and then your jam will keep for up to……I don’t know. It’ll keep, ok.