Last year I got into jam making in a big way – I even entered the local Jam Off competition with an apricot cardamom jam. I realised that jam making was a great way of conducting food experiments and I lapped up details of jam making technique and flavours. I love giving gifts of jam – and found that I really loved receiving in return jam that friends themselves made.
I’m too young to have memories of Aunt Daisy in person but I do understand the impact she had on cooking and keeping women connected through her radio programme. It was therefore a pleasure to get the opportunity to read a book of her recipes compiled by her late daughter and with proceeds going to a medical charitable trust.
I feel that the book is aimed at the experienced preserver rather than the keen beginner. While the book notes that the recipes are all tested by Aunt Daisy – they are from a time when women were considered to have a fairly decent repertoire of cooking skills and so sometimes the recipes have that assumption built in to them.
The reader’s ability to determine setting point of jam is important – particularly because a couple of recipes state overlong cooking times (Blackberry and Apple Jelly needs boiling for about five minutes, rather than 45 minutes). Yet sometimes the long cooking time is necessary, such as in the very delicious Tomato Sauce recipe – you need to boil out the liquid so you don’t have a watery sauce.
The author has added sections on basic jam and preserve making so you can read some of the theory before you start.
The thing I find most special about this book is how comprehensively ‘Kiwi’ it is – the recipes cover the fruit and vegetables that you will find in New Zealand gardens – including at least five ‘green tomato’ recipes for those summers where the weather just isn’t hot enough for gorgeous red tomatoes!
Recipes for rarer fruits/ berries like mulberries, laurel berries, gooseberries and chokos are included. There are recipes suitable for all seasons.
The final preserving section provides a bonus – this isn’t just a jam/ preserved fruit book – but one that includes preserving fish, making bacon and even mutton ham. There is even an interesting tip on how to store lemons for a long time. For me it gave an insight into a time when food wasn’t as readily available, and the creativity of the home cook. As a bonus, beautiful stickers to decorate preserving jars are included. They fit the classic, homespun feel of the book (there are some beautiful photos of the recipes).
Overall, I’d recommend this book for anyone who regularly preserves food, and wants some inspiration for more interesting projects.
Recipes I made:
• Tomato Sauce – amazing, with a warm heat from the spices, but not overly spicy
• Blackberry and Apple Jelly – this is always a beautiful jam, fantastic in cake or on scones.
• Preserved pears – tinned pears are a favourite dessert for my children and I found a wild pear tree that obligingly provided a number of pears! These look so beautiful in their jars.
• Tomato pulp – you need a serious amount of tomatoes if you are making tomato sauce or preserving tomato pulp.
• Preserved rhubarb – beautifully coloured liquid and fruit as a result.
Reviewed by Emma Wong-Ming who also blogs as Make-do Mum.
Preserving with Aunt Daisy
by Barbara Basham
Published by Hodder Moa