Preserves and Pontack…

I emptied out the preserves cupboard at the end of last week, partly to make sure the old has been rotated to the front, so it get’s used first and to see exactly what is in there.

I did write a list of what turned up but right now, I can’t find it anywhere, doh!  The basics are, there is no more Strawberry Jam; I didn’t make any this year as we always seem to have loads but C has slowed on his jam eating (he favours Marmite and honey these days….not together, obviously!) so I decided to skip it, I should have checked the cupboard first but we do have 4 jars of Strawberry and Rhubarb so all is not lost.  On the ‘overstocked’ side, there are 5 small jars of Redcurrant Jelly from last year, which with this year’s added makes rather a stash, I will be looking for alternative uses to make sure it gets eaten.  There is a small mountain of Marmalade in both Whisky and Jelly forms.  Basically I am the only one who eats it but I do like making it as I love the smell that fills the house and the fact it falls in Winter (if you are using ‘Seville’ oranges) when there is little else to make.  Maybe 27 jars is a bit too much (ha ha) so I need to remember not to make any more this year and it’s time to start cooking Marmalade cake for the boys 😉

There were also reasonable amounts of Pickled Shallots, Gooseberry Jam and Jelly, Cassis and Sloe Gin to name but a few.  I no longer make things that we don’t eat, so there is no Chutney, it’s not that I don’t like it but we rarely eat cold meats or cheese and even if we did I’m the only one who would eat Chutney on the side.  Onion Marmalade is a different story, we eat quite a lot of that, especially with sausages but as I didn’t grow onions this year I wont be making more of that, sadly.

And so, what to add this year.  We have limited space for storing preserves so from my earlier days when I used to make masses,  I’ve learnt to curb my enthusiasm and only make what we will eat plus a bit extra for giving away.  One thing that I did want to try again was Pontack using the elderberries from the garden and some of the lovely shallots we have grown (like the garlic, the shallots have done amazingly well this year, this is only a very small bundle of them, the rest have been tied and hung in the kitchen ready for eating).

There is so much information on-line about Pontack that I wont waffle on too long, simply, it is a spicy elderberry sauce that you can add to stews and gravy and also eat with Game that in theory you should leave for 7 years before eating.  It’s also a very old sauce that is at least 300 years old, apparently.  Most recipes are the same, I use the one by Pam Corbin from my favourite book the River Cottage Handbook No 2, Preserves.

Elderberry Pontack

Makes 1 x 350 ml bottle

500 g elderberries
500 ml cider vinegar
200 g shallots, sliced
6 cloves
4 allspice berries
1 blade of mace
1 tbsp black peppercorns
15 g root ginger bruised

Place the elderberries in an ovenproof dish with the vinegar (cover!!) and put in very low oven for 4-6 hrs or overnight. Remove strain through sieve, crushing the berries to obtain max juice.

Put juice in a pan with sliced shallots, spices and ginger. Bring back to boil and simmer for 20-25 mins until slightly reduced. Remove from heat and strain.

Return the strained juice back to the pan and boil for 5 mins. Pour into warm sterilised bottles and seal. Store in a dark cupboard for as long as you can manage, 7 years is good!

Now I’ll be honest with you, it take quite a bit of effort to make but is also fun and the boys loved the inky blackness of the liquid.  Things I would note; if you spill it on your beige linen skirt it will stain 😉 and I made a double batch of the above, having made it before and knowing there was some work involved, I wanted to get a good 700 ml in return.  I didn’t, in fact I ended up with 300 ml so what went wrong?  The only thing I have noticed having hunted around for various recipes on-line (and there are many, the main variation being to use red wine instead of vinegar) is to cover the berries during that first stage of slow cooking in the oven and in Pam Corbin’s version it doesn’t mention doing that, it also doesn’t say not to so I assume this was my mistake (I left it uncovered).  Annoyingly as I realised this I remembered that last time I made it (a couple of years ago) I came to the same conclusion, I have now pencilled a note in my book so I don’t forget again.

I have more on jams and jellies but I’m going to split it into another post as I think this is the way going forward.  I have a tendency to wait too long between posts and then only say half of what I plan as I run out of steam and time to write it up, so the new me will be attempting to post more often and with a bit less waffle, at least that’s the plan 🙂

 

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6 thoughts on “Preserves and Pontack…

  1. i came upon your site quite by accident! but, am curious, do you garden organially? We do (my husband and I), and just wanted to know what types of fertilizers you use? also, are those water pictures where you live? it is beautiful! lovely pictures! i will keep you in my favorites, and enjoy what’s going on with your home and garden! thank you.

    • Hi Nelta, thanks for dropping by and for commenting. I am organic in the vegetable patch but not in the rest of the garden. For fertilizer I use farmyard manure plus boxed ‘fish, blood & bone’ pellets and chicken manure pellets. Glad you like the blog 🙂 Beth

  2. I have never come across Pontack before! I always feel quilty for not using the billions of elderberries on our walks, but the only thing I’ve ever made is elderberry rob, and there’s only so much of that you’d want in your life. Definitely using this next year!

    • I always feel guilty too and I’ve given up on wine after attempting twice but not really being very successful. I think next year I’ll try elderflower champagne instead 🙂 Bethx

  3. I hadn’t heard of pontack before but it sounds intriguing… may have to try it sometime, though I’m not sure we’d make much use of it – though in 7 years’ time, who knows?!

  4. Pingback: Rhubarb Chutney and Guilt… – Rock Cottage Year

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