The joy of this time of year is the amount of herbs and vegetables in the garden. However, sometimes, there might be a little too much or you are just slightly bored of courgette again for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Therefore, it is time to preserve and trap some of the summer flavours of fresh herb to enjoy in the depths of winter.
As a start, these are some of our favourite preserves for herbs combined with the courgettes, tomatoes and plums that we have quite a lot of this year.
Courgettes are delicious vegetable and best eaten young and fresh from the garden. When they are fresh they are shiny and slightly hairy. The young ones are wonderful grated into salads or on pasta with a basil or rocket pesto. For Jekka's Master Classes, we often serve a courgette salad where the spiralised courgette has been cured overnight in brine, washed and seasoned with lemon juice. Simply lightly fried in oil and tossed with thyme and served as an accompaniment is equally appealing. Courgettes pair well with basil, lemon, garlic, tomatoes, mint and olive oil as well as parsley, which we currently have a glut of.
- 2 kg courgettes
- 1 litre white wine
- 750 ml vinegar
- 10 g salt
- fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 heads garlic, peeled and chopped
- freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- Cut the courgettes into chunks keeping the skin on and discarding any seedy soft centres.
- Put the wine and vinegar in a saucepan, add the salt and bring to the boil.
- Add the courgettes and leave for five minutes (it goes pulpy if you leave it longer).
- Drain the courgettes and place on a clean cloth to dry.
- Layer the courgettes in a sterilised jar with the parsley, garlic and pepper. Push it down to get as much as you can in. Cover in oil. Make sure the air is expelled by pushing a long knife around the edges of the jar to release any air bubbles. Tapping the jar also releases these. Keep topped up with olive oil once opened and store in the refrigerator. Use within a month.
Tomatoes, to me, are like sweets. When they are freshly picked from the vine the warmth, sweetness and intense flavour is hard to beat. Tomatoes can be simply eaten raw or alternatively roasted with a bit of salt, oil and garlic to make a quick and easy sauce to accompany pasta or pulses. If you roast the tomatoes for a long period in a low heat, 140 deg C, you can make your own 'sundried' tomatoes.
With excess tomatoes, you can make your own tomato chutney (adapted from the modern preserver) or green tomato chutney. Tomatoes classically go with thyme as with the two following recipes.
- 1 kg tomatoes
- olive oil
- sea salt and freshly cracked back pepper
- 1 kg red pepper
- 500 g courgettes
- 800 g red onions
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp coriander seeds; ideally fresh and in the green, which has an orange/citrus flavour
- 800 g dark brown sugar
- 750 ml distilled malt vinegar
- 2 tsp malt vinegar
- 1/4 tsp ground mace
- Couple of sprigs of thyme
- Fresh coriander leaves or stems
- 1/2 lemon, quartered
- 4 birds eye chillies halved
- 2 tsp black pepper corns
- 2 bay leaves
- Preheat the oven to 140 Deg C.
- Halve the tomatoes, place them on a tray cut side up, sprinkle with thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper and slowly roast for 1 - 1/12 hours.
- Meanwhile, halve and deseed the red peppers. cut the courgettes on the diagonal to make long, 3mm-wide slices, peel the onions and cut each one into 8 wedges.
- When the tomatoes are done, remove them from the oven and raise the temperature to 180 Deg C.
- Place the peppers cut side down, courgettes, onions and unpeeled garlic cloves on a baking tray, sprinkle with thyme, oil, salt and pepper and bake for 50 minutes.
- The next day, crush the coriander seeds using a pestle and mortar, remove the skins from the garlic and roughly chop. Put the roasted vegetables, garlic, coriander seeds, prepared spice bag and all the other ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed pan and and bring to the boil.
- Lower the heat and reduce, stirring frequently for 30 - 40 minutes or until you have reached the right consistency.
- Remove the spice bag, stir through the coriander leaves or stems and ladle into warm, dry and sterilised jars.
- Can eat immediately or, let it mature in a cool, dark place for at least 4 weeks.
Green tomato chutney
- 700 g green tomatoes sliced
- 225 g onions skinned
- 225 g apples, peeled and cored
- 100 g sultanas
- 5 ml salt
- 300 ml malt vinegar
- 20 ml ground ginger
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 5 ml dry mustard
- 100 g demerara sugar
- Few sprigs of thyme
- Put the tomatoes, onions and apples through a coarse mincer or chop into small cubes.
- Then put them in the pressure cooker or heavy bottom pan with the sultanas, salt, vinegar, spices, thyme and mustard. If using the pressure cooker, put on the lid and cook for 10 minutes at high (15 lb) pressure and then reduce the pressure. Otherwise, cook for 45 mins in a heavy bottomed pan.
- Once cooked, add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved. Return the uncovered cooker to the heat. Bring to boil, stirring, and continue boiling until a thick consistency is reached.
- Remove the cooker from the heat and allow the chutney to cool for about 10 minutes. Test for seasoning, then pot into dry sterilised pots.
- Keep the chutney for 2 months before using.
We have Victorian Plums, which make a wonderful crumble or compot. This year, we had so many that the branches were actually breaking.
- 900 g red plums
- Few sprigs of Middle East Oregano, Za'attar, Origanum syriacum
- 1/2 vanilla pod
- 150 ml water
- 10 black peppercorns
- about 400 - 500 g granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Cut the plums in half, remove the stones then wrap the stones in a muslin cloth and tie (the stones contain pectin and flavour the preserve).
- Split the vanilla pod and remove the seeds.
- Put the prepared plums and muslin bag in a large, heavy bottomed pan with the vanilla seeds, vanilla pod, oregano, water and peppercorns and bring to the boil.
- Simmer on a low heat, stirring constantly, for 30 - 40 minutes, making sure the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- When the plums are soft, remove from the heat, and push through a fine sieve. Discard the skins, oregano, muslin bag, vanilla pod and peppercorns.
- Measure the fruit puree and put it into a large heavy-bottomed pan. Add 200 g of sugar for every 250 ml of puree. Gently heat and stir until dissolved.
- Add the lemon juice, bring to boil and then gently simmer for a further 30 - 40 minutes until thicken and the mixture holds it shape on the spoon.
- Remove from the heat and stir through the salt and ladle into warm sterilised jars.
If you love the sounds of this recipe and herb-based cooking check out our Master Classes.