While perusing a food gift catalog recently, my dear friend, Ruth, happened upon a nice selection of conserves, fruit chutneys and marmalades that would be perfect hostess gifts for the holidays. “These conserves, fruit chutneys and marmalades are so beautiful and sound so good,” she said. “This catalog certainly has me sold.”
I looked at the food gift catalog items Ruth had picked, and noted how expensive they were, not including shipping costs. “You know, we could make all of these conserves, fruit chutneys and marmalades instead of buying them. Think how much money you’ll save, and it would be fun to spend an afternoon chatting and canning.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I’m a bit wary about canning anything,” Ruth remarked. “I read once that 13 unlucky members of a family were wiped out after having eaten a jar of canned peaches that was teeming with botulism bacteria.”
“Ruth, that was back in 1909 for gosh sakes. I think we have a handle on that issue with our careful sterilization procedures. Plus we have the modern miracle of sustained cold refrigeration. I think we’ll be safe canning conserves, fruit chutneys and marmalades.”
To prepare for the next day’s cooking and canning activity, I made a note to refresh my notions about the differences between conserves, fruit chutneys and marmalades:
– CONSERVES are like preserves and are made from the whole fruit, but raisins and nuts may be added.
– FRUIT CHUTNEYS can have fruits or vegetables, but they always have spices as an additional dimension. American and European fruit chutneys have vinegar and sugar and are cooked until thick. They are enhanced typically with garlic, ginger, onion, salt or tamarind.
– MARMALADES include the peel of the fruit. Some marmalades are tart or sour, or very sweet, depending upon the quality of the fruit.
I also glimpsed at other definitions so as not to confuse myself about the conserves, fruit chutneys, and marmalades:
– JAMS are made from puréed fruit.
– JELLIES are made from fruit juice
– PRESERVES are made from the whole fruit.
Now, it’s off to the supermarket to buy the items we need for our canning project of conserves, fruit chutneys and marmalades. Err, I guess it is going to be MY canning project, as Ruth has opted out (except to put dibs on a jar of peach conserves I’m going to make from an old family recipe.) Go figure!