Relishing a fruity bargain

Every summer I make a trip or two to buy some exotic fruit and hunt for edible bargains. Early on Friday mornings, throughout the year, a fruit and veg supplier sets up his stall in Newcastle Emlyn and, amongst the standard green grocer’s fare, there are many bargains to be had. You can’t guarantee what he will be selling off cheaply and the best bargains need to be cooked or eaten quickly, but it’s always worth a visit. In the past I’ve bought very cheap nectarines, tomatoes, mushrooms, mangoes… and I’ve brought them home for bottling.

So yesterday, rather than my early morning swim, I had an early morning shopping trip. The best bargain I found was organic pineapples – two for £1. The tops were looking somewhat worse for wear, but the fruits themselves seemed generally sound, and I bought four. I also managed to get some peaches, although they didn’t have any big boxes and I will be returning in the hope of finding some more later in the summer.

Earlier in the year we were served pineapple and chilli relish at a restaurant and I had managed to recreate this at home with tinned pineapple (which, until then, I hadn’t bought for years). The fresh ones, along with the current abundance of home-grown chillies meant that it was the perfect time to make a larger batch of this relish. I simply chopped the pineapple, added a little sugar (to help with the preservation) and water, and cooked it up with chillies. First I added a Hungarian black, then a Romanian yellow and finally two lemon drops before I reached the desired heat. The addition of three chopped red chillies that have no heat (a disappointment from 2015 and stored in the freezer) added a little colour and also a visual signal of the contents (lest we should accidentally mistake it for something to eat for dessert). Into hot 0.25l Kilner jars and twenty minutes in a hot water bath, and the relish was ready for storage. Very easy.

This morning I bottled some of the peaches. The flesh is pale, but the syrup is a beautiful pink colour:

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bottled peaches

And finally I’ve making a few jars of peach, lime and red currant jam. We are not big jam-eaters, but it is nice in a Victoria sponge. We’ve got loads of red currants this year and still haven’t used up all last year’s crop, plus I found some lime halves in the freezer with their zests removed (having been used in a lime drizzle cake a while ago),  so I thought I’d do something creative. Peach jam does not set without the addition of pectin, so I am hoping that the currants and lime will be sufficient.

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peach, red currant and lime jam

I love food preservation – opening one of these jars in winter will be like bringing summer into the house.

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21 Comments

  1. Great finds!
    Peach, lime and red currant jam sounds interesting – I don’t think I’ve ever tried it.
    It actually reminds me that I should also look out for some good buys and make a little jam for the colder months… and hopefully I’ll be able to pick some wild blackberries later in the season 🙂

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    • Blackberries are very early this year – there are even some ripe now!
      Peach, red currant and lime jam might be an entirely new flavour combination. Mr Snail is very fond of limes so I’m hoping it’s a hit with him.

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      • I’m planning to add a hint of spirit to mine in order to reduce the sugar and help preservation. I tried last year and it was hardly noticeable.
        I’ll have to go and look for blackberries soon, then – thanks for the info! The other years it was more like late august/early september.
        Have a nice weekend!

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        • I used to use a lot of sugar when bottling fruit, but I’ve discovered that it’s not necessary if the pH is low enough, which it is for lots of fruit. I haven’t made jam for years, so I suspect this small batch will last a long time.

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  2. Wow! It looks like you have been very busy and will have a well stocked pantry this winter. It all looks so delicious.

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  3. Mouthwatering!

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  4. It all looks wonderful! Tell me, do the black chillis keep their colour when cooked, or do they go all sad and pale and brown?

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    • They were finely chopped, so it was difficult to tell, but this one small experiment is promising. Oh and the do taste amazing – hot and peppery at the current stage of ripeness. The yellow Romanian ones have less depth of flavour and the heat seems to develop in your throat, which is odd.

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  5. It must be so satisfying to see all this produce on your shelves, and to open them in the depths of winter. Those pineapples were a real bargain, and your relish should be delicious.

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  6. How wonderful to see all those jars of deliciousness. Good for you!

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  7. Annie

     /  July 24, 2017

    You are so clever in the kitchen, I wish I had your talents. 🙂

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    • I started doing very simple preserving a few years ago, having previously only made jam. As time has gone on, I have collected more equipment and gained some skills and so I have got more adventurous. It just starts with a little step.

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  8. Laurie Graves

     /  July 24, 2017

    Lovely! Especially that pineapple relish. My mouth is watering.

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  9. Throw some of that pineapple relish in the box with the cake and shortbread! I love food bargains. My grocery store recently started selling “discard” fruit & veg for $1 a bag (a bag being about half a kilo). Although some stuff needs eaten quickly, most of the time there’s not a blemish on it, and I love how I end up having to get creative to use my produce treasures.

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    • It really annoys me that so much food goes to waste simply because it needs a bit of immediate creativity. Keep buying those bargains and making great food.

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      • I’ve said this before, but I just don’t get people waste so much food. As for my bargains, I just finished off the giant cantaloupe I got for $1. Oh, and I should have said “half a pound,” not “half a kilo!” 😳😳😳

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