Quick and Easy Preserves

 I like to make preserves, and I often make lots of a preserve at once. I prepare masses of fruit, wash and sterilise lots of jars, wield a large preserving pan, faff about with a jelly bags. It's not hard but it can take a lot of time and effort. Those things may be the very things which put you off preserving. But there are easier ways. Get yourself a copy of Simone Sekers' Quick and Easy Preserves.

It's one of my favourite books and I have made many recipes from it. These are all recipes for small batches of things none of which take very long, some only minutes, and all of which are a delicious addition to your storecupboard providing brightness and interest to everyday meals.There are pickles, relishes, chutneys, jams, jellies, drinks, flavoured oils and vinegars, mustards, herb blends and potted meat and fish.

Since I bought this book in 1994 I have made;

Superfast peach and apricot preserve - a brilliant conserve-type jam made out of a tin each of peaches and apricots. Absolutely fabulous and very easy.

Seville orange jelly - marmalade without the bits which makes an excellent glaze for your Christmas ham.

Summer berry jam - made with a bag of frozen summer berries and wonderful as a filling for a Victoria sponge.

Potted herb cheese - a delicious mixture of cheese, cream and herbs for spreading on hot toast or crackers.

Fruit flavoured spirits -this is a basic formula for making drinks like damson gin. Invaluable

Gingerette -a wonderful spiced drink made of orange and lemon juice, chillies, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. to be drunk hot on bonfire night or after carol singing, or best of all added to whisky when you have a cold.

Bread and butter pickles - delicious pickled cucumber and onions

Smoked haddock paste -cooked smoked haddock mixed with softened butter, gorgeous in a baked spud.

Fresh apple and mint relish -see below

Mrs Beeton's excellent pickle -see below

Tapenade - see below

And then there are all the recipes I haven't made yet but will do one day;

Fresh corn relish
Cumbrian sauce - redcurrant jelly, mustard, ginger and orange juice for eating with cold meats.
Preserved lemons and olives
Eliza Acton's groseillée -raspberry and gooseberry jam
Ruby orange marmalade
Christmas raisins -raisins soaked in sugar and rum
Rhubarb, orange and ginger jam
Spiced beef
Aromatic herbaceous seasoning -a blend of dried herbs, spices garlic and lemon rind
Spiced butter for sweet dishes, spiced butter for savoury dishes
Bulldog mustard
Huile de Provence
Chilli and sherry vinegar

This is Mrs Beeton's excellent pickle which is sliced cooking apples, cucumber and Spanish onion covered with a mixture of soy sauce, sherry and vinegar. It is supposed to last a year. I made this last week and it tastes a bit rough and raw at the moment. I have hopes of if mellowing.

Mrs Beeton's Excellent Pickle from Quick and Easy Preserves by Simone Sekers

Thinly slice 1 large cucumber, 2 small cooking apples and 1 Spanish onion. Layer them in a large jar (I used an 800g mayonnaise jar). Sprinkle a bit of cayenne pepper between the layers.

Mix about 150 ml each of dry sherry (I used a mix of dry and amontillado because I didn't have enough dry), cider vinegar and soy sauce. Pour over the vegetables.

I store mine in the fridge.

Below is tapenade. The recipe in Quick and Easy Preserves had sun-dried tomatoes in it. I didn't have any but it is just as good without.

Tapenade -slightly adapted from Quick and Easy Preserves by Simone Sekers
It is easiest made in a food processor.
Throw in 200g pitted black olives, 50g sun-dried tomatoes (or leave these out and make up quantities with more olives), the contents of a small tin of anchovies in oil, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, 1 heaped tablespoon of capers, a teaspoon of French mustard, 1 teaspoon of brandy and about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Blitz to a coarse paste.

Delicious on oatcakes or tossed into pasta.

And this is fresh apple and mint relish to which I added a chunk of cucumber which needed using up. Fab in a cheese sandwich or made into a sauce by adding mayonnaise or crème fraîche and served with mackerel (smoked or not).

Fresh Apple, Cucumber and Mint Relish  adapted from Quick and Easy Preserves by Simone Sekers

Put 2 peeled and cored cooking apples, about a third of a cucumber cut into chunks, half a red onion and a large handful of mint in the food processor and chop coarsely (or do it by hand). Mix with 1 tablespoon of honey and 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar. Add a pinch of ground allspice and a pinch of salt plus a grinding of black pepper. 
Allow an hour before serving it and store in the fridge. Use within a week.



  1. Gosh you have been busy! Hope that you are having fun "putting up" for autumn and winter. You will have lots of yummy things to eat and use!

  2. What a wonderful array of things you have made - your stall at school fund-raising fairs will be much sought after. I wonder, in general, how long a food must be able to be preserved to be labelled a preserve?

  3. Fab post Sue, many thanks! Love the sound of that apple relish, especially as I've just been given a bucket load of discoveries.
    Been labelling a batch of greengage jam from our own trees, and 'Figpote' from Pam Corbin, River Cottage Preserves No.2 (Hugh Fearnley's Pam the Jam), which was so easy, a good one if you come across cheap figs.

    A favourite time of year now, cooking up preserves to be later wrapped up into mini hampers for Christmas presents.

    So a copy of the book has indeed been ordered, for yet more inspiration, it looks good,
    thanks again, Niki

  4. There's something very satisfying about preserving, isn't there?

    I love chutney but have a soft spot for apricot jam - reminds me of breakfasts growing up. We weren't really a cereal kind of family...

    Never tried tapenade but it looks rather nice. I could do with a change from houmous!

  5. Wow!! This book sounds amazing! I love the sound of the apricot-peach conserve made with tinned fruit. I've never heard of a jam made with tinned fruit and it sounds like such a brilliant idea! The tapenade looks ace, too xx

  6. That sounds like a terrific book. I like the sound of every recipe you've tried. The pickles and tapenade look delicious too.

  7. Am off to look up said book on Amazon. Thanks Sue x

  8. Every single one of these recipes (and even the names of recipes) are intriguing. Sue, I do like the sound of this book, and your having had good results from using it gives more encouragement.

    The funny thing is that these "extra" dishes are the sorts of delicious-looking additions that I never seem to have time (or space) to try Some day, some day, perhaps I will have that time, and a kitchen with some work space. Until then, I continue to be an avid admirer of what you create in your own kitchen, and thank you for your generosity in sharing some favorites. As the weather begins to get a chill, I will soon again be making that kale, potato, onion...and bacon dish. I did save my notes!


  9. 8ugger, I've just packed my preserving pan and accoutrements. It all sounds delicious - can't wait to try the apple and mint relish - I've the perfect smoked fish with chilli flakes in mind. yum xx

  10. Oh thanks Sue. I stopped making because of the time involved, which I lack at the mo. So a quick recipe book sounds right up my street. Thanks. Still think you should do your own!!

  11. Dang, you write the most enticing food posts ever.

  12. A delicious read. I also rather envy you that yellow chequered jam jar lid. Have green and red but never see any other colours.

    1. It's on the Confiture de Caramel jar Lucille.

    2. Merci beaucoup. I'm on to it.

  13. Some really great sounding recipes there. Potted herb cheese sounds wonderful. I do love preserved lemons as well.

  14. A conserve with tinned fruit is exciting me beyond belief - I really must get out more.

    Will get out more after some extensive googling for tinned fruit conserve recipes ;)

  15. Just as Delia was required to warn Sainsbury's they'd need extra stock of an ingredient she'd be recommending perhaps you could have a word with Amazon ... only three copies left now and they're all in the USA ... bother!

    That relish .. yum!

    1. Blimey, there were lots for just 1p when I posted the link!

  16. ooh - gingerette sounds delicious, I might have to invest in that book!

  17. Pati from London11:11 am BST

    Wow Sue, I think that suddenly after that post, this book has become very difficult to find as the amazon copies now cost over a £100 and £300!!
    Isn't the power of blogging amazing?
    It does look very good, indeed, though!
    I thought your post was very interesting and mouth-watering and the writer seems to have listed great variety of preserves, mixtures, jams etc...
    I've finally bought my damsons today (after pestering my local grocer for some) and can't wait to make some gin....

    Thanks for so much inspiration,
    Pati x

  18. Please could we have the recipe for gingerette? I haven't got £117 to spare for the book. That is on Amazon today and it is £200 on play.com. I think that book would be a valuable addition to my bookshelf as it sounds like it offers more than the basics, but...

    1. Oh my goodness! Honestly there were copies available for 1p when I posted. I had no idea they'd all be snapped up. To be fair the £117 copy is new and as it has been out of print several years that must be a pretty rare book.

      I intend to make Gingerette later in the autumn and will of course post the recipe. I'll happily email you the recipe now Jo but you'll have to email me first as I can't find an email address for you on your blog (probably not looking hard enough).

  19. There is a wonderful blog and a wonderful cookbook of the same name that I think you would like: http://foodinjars.com/

    I've rediscovered canning and am finding the small batch kind so much less daunting!


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