Preserving

Preserving

By
Justin North
Contains
12 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781740665377
Photographer
Steve Brown

It’s hard for most of us to imagine a time when there were no refrigerators and freezers to help prevent fresh food from spoiling.

Since ancient times, when foodstuffs were only available seasonally, all sorts of clever techniques have been devised to prolong the life of food over the course of the leaner winter months. These include salting, air-drying, smoking, pickling in vinegar or alcohol, preserving with sugar, and cooking and preserving in fat.

Perhaps the need to preserve our food in these ways no longer exists, but today these methods are still used and loved because of the delectable ways in which they add different flavours and textures to ingredients. Think of the pleasure we get from an intensely flavoured raspberry jam, or the spicy crunch of pickled vegetables. Or try to imagine life without cured jambon de Bayonne or smoked saucissons. As for me, I think it would be a dark and dreary world without my beloved confits (which are covered in a separate chapter) and without the vast range of charcuterie that is so characteristic of provincial French cooking.

For me, the very word ‘charcuterie’ conjures up memories of sun-kissed holidays in rural France. The word itself means ‘cooked meat’ and is traditionally based on pork meat or offal. It’s a vast area of cooking – probably best translated in English as ‘small goods’ – with nearly every region producing its own specialties. Most charcuterie butchers will sell a wide variety of fresh and smoked sausages (think andouillettes, boudins blancs and noirs, dried, raw and cooked saucissons), cured meats, rillettes, pâtés and terrines, galantines, ballottines, hams and brawn (known, rather confrontingly in French, as fromage de tête – head cheese!).

Most charcuterie is probably beyond the scope of home kitchens, and let’s face it, good delicatessens have a mind-boggling range of these delicacies – even if not to the same extent as in France. But there are some simple and delectable pâtés, terrines and sausages that are easy to make at home and are well worth it for the satisfaction.

Preserves, pickles and chutneys are a natural accompaniment to the rich flavours of charcuterie and there’s nothing quite like them for livening up leftovers. They range from the simplicity of fresh garden vegetables pickled in spiced vinegars to mixtures of fruits or vegetables simmered with sugar and vinegar to make sweet-and-sour relishes and chutneys. At the sweet end of the repertoire there is a vast range of spiced fruits, candied fruits, fruits preserved in alcohol, and of course jams and jellies.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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