12 Treats to Make Before Christmas.

In a month and a half, we will be getting ready for a Christmas dinner. Maybe sooner if you’re holding a few events for friends before the day! And harvest season is coming to an end, with frosts quickly advancing and only a few baskets and boxes of fresh produce left. Soon there will be turnips, parsnips, some berries and that’s about it.

So why not take advantage of the last few batches of harvest and make some amazing food to preserve for our dinner tables over Christmas? Here are twelve of my favourites.

1: Plum pie filling.

The last few batches of plums should be dewey and bursting with flavour round about now, but they won’t last until December. Make the most of them and make a thick plum jam to can and preserve until Christmas.

2: Pumpkin ice cream.

Cook down some pumpkin flesh with a bit of sugar and a lot of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Stir it into cream, drizzle with melted toffee, top with walnuts, freeze and forget about it for a month and a half.

3: Christmas pudding.

If you didn’t feel confident enough to cure your English Christmas pudding for six months, you can always make one now and hang it up in cheesecloth in the pantry to cure just a little bit.

4: Cranberry sauce.

Bring a few bowls of cranberries to a simmer until the juices escape. Strain and keep the liquid. Add a cup of sugar for each cup of cranberry juice. Boil for a few minutes and then can it to save for roast dinners.

5: Mincemeat.

If you want to make your own mince pies, now’s the time to make mincemeat from fresh and dried fruits, to cure and ferment a bit by December. Chop up half fresh, half dried fruits, mash with flour and plenty of brandy, heat, can and leave in the fridge until needed.

6: Pumpkin chutney.

All that remaining pumpkin and pumpkin rind can also be used up efficiently! Chop it roughly and cook it with plenty of sugar, some salt and some vinegar. Maybe a little chili too. Then, bring to a boil and can it. Keep in the fridge until needed.

7: Glacé fruit.

If you have a lot of fruit and time on your hands, you could try and make glacé (candied) fruit ready for cake toppings and snacks. You need 1lb of sugar for every 2lbs of fruit. You boil the fruit in a pan of water several times before adding the sugar to coat it.

8: Marzipan.

From stollen, a traditional German Christmas cake made with a marzipan filling, to your cheeseboard, this rich and tasty almond treat is worth making in advance.

9: Applesauce.

Essentially, apple jam. Boil your apples down with 1/3-1/2 sugar and can for later use.

10: Pear confit.

Bake pears and onions with oil and salt until soft. Bring to a high heat in a saucepan. Can, refrigerate and save.

11: Elderberry wine.

With the last of the elderberries, consider making your own elderberry wine to wow your guests at the dinner table. It is simple and doesn’t take long to ferment.

12: Sloe gin and cherry brandy.

Or, if you’re not that adventurous, get a bottle of gin and place a few sliced sloes in it and a bottle of brandy to fill with cherries.

And those are my top twelve things to make in time for Christmas! What other treats do you like to prepare early?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

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If anyone was wondering what 15.5L of jam looks like…

…here’s half a fridge of preserves!

Roughly 20L of jam and preserves.

The taller jars (white tops and the likes) are 0.5L, the big ones are 1L, the smaller ones are 200-450ml.

Raspberry, elderberry, blackberry, plum, apple sauce, autumn pie mix and various mixed jams. Fruit mostly foraged, given or got on the cheap locally.

All preserves in boiled, undamaged pop-top jars, resealed with heat – canning without a canning bath, if you will. I was unsure about this trick, but after a whole year of eating jams made and preserved this way, I trust them. Should be great for Halloween and Christmas and still be edible and usable for a full 12 months from the date on the jar!

I probably made around 20L total, but I had to use some on the day due to jar shortage and gave some away to friends and Jon’s coworkers.

Jam. 🙂