When it comes to Christmas gifts, I rarely go out shopping. I’ve spent most of my adult life managing in retail and there is no rest for the wicked. So now I work from home, I spend every minute I can at base with my dog, working in my home office or flitting between the kitchen or a blog post. While I put my feet up leading up to the final days of Christmas, my sadist self chuckles at YouTubers sharing nightmare stories of shopping queues, pushing and shoving to buy their presents and stuck in the rush hour.
Instead, I start very early, typically from August, foraging, jamming and Christmas-caking to create personal gifts with love. However, a late camping trip has set me back this year. On another note, home made gifts can be frugal, but not always as it’s difficult to control a creative urge, but as I say every year, “I won’t be making as much this time.” I mean it this time though. I have a business to run and the downside to, say a Christmas cake, is that it can take hours, but the more time spent feeding every two weeks, the more intense and moist it will be.
So today, I filmed myself making chutneys and sterlizing jars in my reindeer jumper which is the start of my Christmas hamper gifts but this time I’ll be sharing with everyone on my YouTube cooking channel, Tastefully Vikkie. Here, have some of this Instagram action:
Chutneys are great as you can use up cheap veg you find in the reduced isle, like I did with ripe tomatoes; use up a glut from your home grown harvest, again I used my own courgettes and recycle glass jars you’ve used over the year. And now is the perfect time to make it so it can mature in time for Christmas, but to save from spoiling, you must not skip the sterilizing process.
Note that if you haven’t held back any glass jars with seal press lids, don’t waste £8.95 at Lakeland for a nice set of 12. I have done it before and it soon adds up. You’re going to want to place pretty lid covers on top, so I have found it much cheaper to nip to Tesco for value jars of mustard and mint sauce, empty them, sterilize and reuse. In fact, I had two tubs of both sauces in my fridge for months and nothing went to waste. Or better still, I asked people at my dog training class and everyone got together bringing in empty jam jars from their places of work!
So here’s how I sterilize jam jars in the oven. I always sterilize quite a few jars in case I need any more.
- First, you need to wash your jars and lids thoroughly in hot soap water to rid of any possible bacteria and rinse away the soap suds. This includes scrubbing off old labels now as it’s trickier to do it later.
- Preheat your oven on gas mark 4.
- Place everything downwards on a clean tea towel to drain and once dried, place all the glass jars facing upwards on a metal baking tray. You must make sure they’re not touching each other to avoid any breakages and leave them in the for 10 minutes.
- At the same time, boil the lids in a pan of water for 10 minutes. I have placed them in the oven before and the lid’s coating on the inside has deteriorated so I no longer dry-heat them.
- Once the glass jars have been in long enough, spoon your hot chutney in to the jars. Never put hot chutney in to cold jars to avoid any breakages and don’t touch the rim or inside the jars to avoid contamination. Sorry to sound so strict, but I don’t want to ruin your efforts.
- When you jars are full, then you are best placing a wax wax disc directly on top of your chutney to make it more air tight. I used wax discs from a Tala set from my local hardware store but can be bought on Amazon.
- Next, with metal tongs, pick out the lids, shake and place on top of each jar and screw tight. You will probably need a tea towel to hold the jars as they will be extremely hot.
- Once the chutneys have cooled, the seal button will lower and become air tight.
Then once your chutneys have cooled, you will want to decorate them. This is the Tala Preserve Sealing & Labelling Set I bought this year as I needed the wax discs and it came with lid covers. Saves me digging out the spotty fabric for a change.
And depending on the recipe, I can highly recommend my all time favourite recipe with a sweet chilli twist which will last up to 2 years and once opened, it will need to kept in the fridge.
I hope you have fun putting love in to your home made gifts this Christmas, or any time of the year for that matter. Homemade I find is the best and outweighs giving something generic off-the-peg so to speak!
Let me know if you have have any queries and will soon post a blog on presentation and a review on the Tala Sealing Set as this is my first year using.
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