Preserving Nature's Bounty with Good Food Ireland
This is the time of year when Mother Nature throws all she has into the preserving pan! From green tomatoes which have no hope of ripening this late in the year, to new season apples and pears, crisp winter carrots and parsnips, polytunnel chillies and peppers, and everything in between, the flavours of all these homegrown crops can be captured in a jar!
We have a number of preservers in the Good Food Ireland membership. Some use homegrown traditional ingredients to make chutneys and relishes with seasonal tastes. Others have been forgaging their little hearts out to produce a wealth of funky or old fashioned preserves, sryups and remedies for fending off the winter blues.
Here’s a list of who’s who and what they do when they rattle those preserving pots and pans!
Helen Gee is a long standing Good Food Ireland member. G’s Gourmet Jams was founded in 1998, based in Abbeyleix, Co. Laois. Helen uses the best and freshest ingredients to produce her award winning range of jams, preserves and chutneys.
This time of year, look out for the superb Autumn Chutney, made from autumn fruits and veggies, plus dried fruit and spices. Just the ticket for the Christmas cold meat platters! Red Pepper Relish and Hot Pepper Relish are great for piling on the cheese or ham sarnies and good with a steak baguette too. The hot one has a nice bite of spicy heat.
Janet’s Country Fayre is owned and run by Janet Drew, an expert preserver who established her business in 2007 in Kilcoole in Co. Wicklow, the county known as the Garden of Ireland. Everything here is made in small batches using time honoured techniques. We particularly like Janet’s famous Beetroot Blush, a deep red chutney which captures the earthy tastes and natural sweetness of beetroot. Great with autumn cheeseboards.
Audrea Hassett and Norbert Thul of Tastefully Yours spend hours in their little kitchen in Co. Waterford, so you don’t have to! They make individual batches of their range of preserves, some as small as six jars in a batch, because they’ve worked out that’s the optimum amount to be made from a particular mix of ingredeints. It’s all about the taste here and if that means making only a few jars at a time to to get it right, then so be it!
Look out for the gorgeous Carrot Chutney, an explosion of taste in the mouth, made from Ireland’s humble root veggie !
Award winning Wild About is the brainchild of Fiona and Malcom Falconer who make their chutneys and relishes in Co. Wexford. They’ve just taken gongs at Blas Na hEireaan awards, and scooped 7 Golds in this year’s London based Great Taste Awards. Wild About products are made from homegrown or foraged ingredients from the Falconers’ land, vegetable garden, tunnels and foraging forest at home. For a hipster taste this autumn, try the Raspberry and Chilli Chutney made from this season’s fruit, a winner in Dingle’s Blas awards. Try it with a goat’s cheese salad or as a funky alternative to cranberry sauce.
All the products in this range are made from seasonal ingredients, so when they are gone, they are gone. Till next year!
Veronica Molloy of Crossogue Preserves in Co. Tipperary makes her range from garden grown and local produce. A good old preserving pan and a wooden spoon are the tools of choice for Veronica.
A range of up to twenty chutneys include seasonal Green Tomato Chutney, which makes the most of those tomatoes left hanging on the vine, which will not ripen this time of year. A great seasonal chutney, left to mature so it forms a solid rounded flavour just right for sliced baked ham or good strong cheese.
One of the great Irish country relishes, Ballymaloe Country Relish is still made to an original recipe from Myrtle Allen, who created it from a glut of tomatoes grown by her husband Ivan at Ballymaloe House. The company is now in the hands of Myrtle and Ivan’s daughter Yasmin Hyde, who has spent 25 years perfecting the recipe her mother created.
The original relish is still the favourite of many to smarten up a cheese sandwich, adorn a cold meat plate or even stir into a stew or gravy. At Christmas, Ballymaloe’s Cranberry Sauce saves you the effort of making it yourself to go with the turkey, and it goes great with deep fried Brie too.
Gordon and Sharon Greene make a great double act! At their farm in Co. Offaly, Gordon combs the land for seasonal wild flowers, herbs, plants and berries. When he brings them home, his wife Sharon gets in the kitchen to create a unique range of preserves based on historic Irish recipes, using all this free foraged bounty.
As the winter chill hits, a teaspoon of the ‘Wildies’ traditional and old fashioned Rosehip Syrup does wonders to fend off coughs and colds and tastes great on the morning porridge!
The autumnal Wild Blackberry Shrub, made from berries picked from the hedgerows on the Greenes’ land, includes probiotic Irish Cider vinegar and works like magic in dressings and marinades, or can be drizzled over desserts and ice creams. If you’re going to get gamey at Christmas, don’t miss the chance to grab the amazing Rowanberry Savoury Pot, a traditional preserve made from the bright red berries of the Mountain Ash or Rowan Tree.
Glenroe fans will remember the song written and sung by Mylie, ‘The By-Road to Glenroe’, which includes the line in the chorus ‘her hair shone red as the berries on the Rowan’. The Wildies’ fantastic savoury jelly indeed shines red as the berries on the Rowan and makes a mighty fine accompaniment to autumn’s wild game dishes. Glenroe and The Wild Irish Foragers and Preservers, doing their bit to ensure fame for this old Irish berry till time immemorial!