Homemade Goodies for Personal Christmas Hampers


A Christmas Hamper - mine would be full of homemade relishes and jams
A hamper similar to mine, I really will have to take a photo of them this year.

I have just received delivery of my christmas gifts for a couple of girlfriends. I have bought them both a copy of Rowan Bishop with Relish, they often taken recipes from my copy so thought it time they had their own.

I have been busy with them the last couple of months getting some preserves done for Christmas presents. I have also done a few jars  ( 2 dozen)  of Coriander, Mint & Cashew Pesto. This is such a versatile pesto, great with eggs, dilute with a little more oil and you a get a great salad dressing, try it over warm carrots – delicious. You can find this recipe here along with a favourite of my family,  Sherry mustard, honey & herb.

I am off to a Christmas market , New Zealand style this weekend, I am looking for some christmassy jars or lid covers. Last year I bought some gorgeous reindeer and elf felt stickers to decorate my jar but can not remember where from, hoping it was this market. Fingers crossed, I could make my own but really not a lot of free time a the moment.

Homemade Christmas Cherry Chutney
Christmas Cherry Chutney

A new recipe for my Christmas baskets is Christmas Cherry Chutney, hope it is as good as it sounds. My Christmas baskets are my gifts to family and close friends and I put a mixture of homemade jams, relishes and various other homemade delicacies.  Along with some speciality cheese I normally purchase at the markets. I am going to make some homemade truffles with the kids a bit nearer to the day, splashed with a little of everyones favourite liquor they are usually a hit.

Making truffles a messy, sticky business but a lot of fun, I have even found a recipe for gluten free and dairy free using coconut milk so all of my friends and family can partake. My recipe is so similar to this one that I have not posted mine. The difference is I sometimes add some liquor to the cream( or coconut milk) I also finely, finely chopped dried fruit and add that in just before I roll into balls. When I am feeling in a particular sticky messy mood I put a small ball of marzipan in my hand and roll the truffle around it

Pickling Cucumber the Traditional Way

Sliced Cucumber Pickle

Refrigerators have contributed a lot to the preserved and pickled food vanishing from our dinner table. In olden day we had some amazing pickled vegetables. Adding a bit of fermented food like pickles even aids digestion. Pickles are not only good for the taste but for heath too.

This recipe I picked up from my grandmother. It only takes 15 minutes to prepare and tastes great with fish meat or vegetables. Try it today.

  • 2 Small Cucumbers
  • 1 Table Spoon Table Salt
  • 1 Cup water
  • 50 ml White Vinegar
  • 100 gm Sugar
  • Bay Leaf One
  • Half Tea spoon All spice.

The Method:

  1. Slice the cucumbers to thin round pieces. Do not Peel the cucumber. This makes 5 -6 cups of sliced cucumber.
  2. Place the cucumber in a large vessel and sprinkle salt. Leave it for half an hour.
  3. Mix water, vinegar, Bay leaf and All spice in a sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a boil. When it starts boiling stir to mix and then remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  4. Rinse the salt from the cucumber slices and squeeze out moisture using paper tissues. Using hands is the best.
  5. Place the cucumber in a glass jar and pour the pickling mix over it. Close the jar with a tight lid and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Now the pickled cucumber is ready. Add lemon juice for extra taste.


Mango Preserves : Enjoy Mangoes in off season

Mango is a seasonal fruit and we yearn for them in off-season. The best way is to preserve it in two ways. Make Jam and make cake.

Mango Jam

Mango Jam

The ingredients:  Mangoes 1/2 kg, Sugar 1/2 kg and lemon juice 25 ml.

The Process:

  1.  Peel and cut the mango into small pieces. Then grate half and grind the other half in the mixer.
  2. Put the ground mango paste lime juice in a non stick and cook for 15 minutes. The water will evaporate and the mix will be thick. Add the grated mango and cook for another 5 minutes.
  3. The mixture will have a shine now. Switch off the stove and let the mixture cool.
  4. When cooled store in a glass container which is air tight. Glass container is preferable as it is healthy and does not react with the jam.
  5. Store in refrigerator for long usage.

Mango Cake

Mango Cake

Mango cake is real preservation of taste of mango and lasts longer than jam. It is not the usual cake.

The ingredients: Mangoes 1 kg, Sugar 500 gm, Black Salt, Pepper powder 5 gm,, Cumin seeds (natural preservative) 50 gm.

The Process:

  1. Cut the mango and extract the pulp.
  2. Use sieve to further extract the juice and pulp.
  3. Dry fry the cumin seeds and grind it in mixer to make powder.
  4. Cook the pulp over low flame for an hour. Let it become a mash.
  5. Then boil sugar in a cup of water to make syrup.
  6. Pour the mash into this syrup and cook for an hour. Add and mix salt , cumin powder and pepper powder.
  7. The cooked mix will be almost solid. You can mold it into various shapes for fun.

Maltese Plums or Loquat Jam


Loquat fruit or Maltese plums lovely for jams or wines
Loquat fruit


I had an interesting Skype conversation with a friend who is currently in Turkey at the moment, there she was sat at in a garden eating fruit and chatting away.  Behind her was a number of tree laden with orange fruit, they looked so familiar but I could not place them. When I asked her about them she said the locals called them mus mullah and she thought they were some sort of plum, nice to eat but the middle had large shiny pips in them. Then I remembered my parents had these in their garden when I was a child. A bit of rumanging around in my memory and with Google and there it was, the Maltese Plum or loquat. I then told my friend that they made not only a lovely jam but wine also.  I said I would look for some recipes for her.  I found this one which I thought sounded interesting. There is quite a discussion on taking out the pips or leaving them in. These pips like apples contain a certain amount of cyanide compounds but you would need to eat a lot before they became toxic and certain wine recipes and Chinese medicines use them. I would just leave a handful in  when jamming for the pectin and colour they make.

Reading up and remembering this versatile fruit and lovely fragrant tree I realised we had the answer to what to put in our garden in the bare patch. Chatted to hubby who agreed and that is what we will do, found this lovely article that was very useful in persuading him. On my internet travels I also found this lovely glaze recipe for loquat and ginger glazed leg of lamb – now this is definately on the menu for weekend.

Loquat fruit and the bitter large seeds that can be toxic if taken in too high quantities
Loquat fruit and seeds


5 Interesting Food Preservations

Preserving Food
Preserving Food


Freezing and drying are the most common methods of preserving food. There are certain other easy methods to preserve food as well. I will try to list a few of the techniques which are interesting indeed. Food you love but cannot have because of the seasonal nature can be preserved and had when it is not available in the market. Also preserved food is a boon for travellers.

  • Canning – It is one of the most ancient methods to preserve food. It involves heating at a particular temperature for a designated length of time and vacuum sealing in a jar. All kinds of food can be preserved in this manner.
Preservation Techniques
Preservation Techniques
  • Pickling – It is soaking the food in a solution The solution is generally concentrated sugar solution or salt solution. Pickling requires fermenting, drying in sun or freezing to preserve. Food can be preserved for a long period using this technique.
  • Drying – One of the easiest and convenient methods of preservation. When the water is removed from the food it becomes non-perishable and can be used over a period of time. Meat and fish are generally preserved in this manner.
Nice food preservation
Nice food preservation
  • Cellars – The most ancient method of food preservation. Remember the cellars at “The Wall” in Game of thrones. The food is kept in a controlled environment to be fresh for a longer duration than at normal temperature.
  • Smoking – This method is used for keeping fish and meat dry and good to eat over a period of time. Smoked food is tasty as well.



Cookers, jams and preserves…

Well spent most of the last week looking at cooker, as mine decided enough was enough. Given the nature of my kitchen I want a free standing cooker and after a bit of clever maneuvering (freezer now in wet room) I managed to make room for… drum roll, a Fisher & Paykel, 90cm freestanding 5 burner oven. I am over the moon. After long discussions with hubby re our finances and options for a cheaper model, we decided that given the cooking I do and the nice little income coming from selling at the carboots we could afford payments on a short term loan, so had a look around and decided on https://www.ferratum.co.nz/. I can’t wait till next week and delivery – also feeling antsy as not  cooked or jammed in a week. Kids loving all the barbies though!

New cooker Fisher & Paykel 90cm 5 burner large oven.
My New Oven…Yea

As with everyone one else I am constantly looking for ways to help my family eat healthily, and cutting down on the sugar is one. I know I jam for fun  & small business but that doesn’t mean I can’t reduce the sugar. While internet searching for recipes I came across this article, which I found interesting and helpful. I have used pectin before, easily bought from the store but this article got me thinking about using fruit to provide its own natural pectin. it makes the jams a bit less ‘solid’ but the taste is just as good. I am definitely going to give the strawberry and cream jam from the article a try and be interesting to see how it sells at the car boots. As we took out slightly more than the cost of the oven I treated myself to a couple of other essentials, a new thermometer being one of them and I treated myself to some bottling products as well. A bit like christmas and my birthday all in one.

A collection of items for jamming or preserving, all essentials in one nice gift pack
Great gift pack… hint hint!

Strawberry Time..Lets get Jamming!

Do you like to POY (Pick Your Own) fruit? Well we do and normally make a day of it, with picnic and friends. Last week went to this wonderful farm Garelja Bros Strawberry Gardens which I have found from the Best Berries website. We picked an astonishing amount of quality strawberries. As it is coming to the end of the season and a lot of strawberries have been picked you are better checking out the Garelia Face Book page for opening times before you go. So what do we do with a bucket load of strawberries… we make jam, Yea!!
Although I also intend to make the cinnamon meringues with vanilla roasted strawberries from the Best Berry website, sound delicious.
Not to my jam, we all have our favourite variations on the standard strawberry jam, mine is vanilla – adding the bean pod seeds for a good strong flavor. However looking at recipes on the internet I came across this one for spicy strawberry jam, sounded absolutely delicious so tried it and it was…well worth making.

Spicy strawberry jam, a little different than the norm.
Spicy Strawberry Jam

Going to be busy this coming Sunday as we and some friends are off to Mangere Bridge Village, they have an admission free Boutique Market with Arts and crafts and fruit and vegetable stalls. We plan to take in the lava flows in Kiwi Esplanade and time permitting head off to Ambury Park, which is a working farm with chooks, piglets and sheep , I am sure the kids are going to love that. I am taking a break from baking and preserving for a coffee and 10 minutes on here but soon must get back to finishing off the jam that will go with the scones I will make for the picnic on Sunday. Let me know if you plan to go or if you can recommend a good PYO farm.

Kiwi Esplanade -lava flows New Zealand
Ropy pahoehoe surfaces on Mount Mangere lava flows found in the foreshore at Kiwi Esplanade – opposite the junction of Boyd & House Avenues