A home vegetable garden is a great way to grow plants to make jams, preserves, chutneys, relish and ketchups.
Of course not many people would grow vegetables just to preserve in jars, that is unless you were mad about canning, pickling and preserving and wanted to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but if you do love jams and chutneys, it is definitely worth making sure that you have some of your favorite preserving fruits and vegetables growing in your garden.
Rather than suggest vegetables that could be preserved in this way, here are a few preserves to give you a few ideas about what you could grow.
Jam is the most obvious of all preserves and the jamming fruits that come to mind would be strawberry, raspberry and blackcurrant, while the conserves being whole fruit could be plum and gooseberry.
For something a bit different you could try apricot, peach, fig or kiwi, or something a little more suited to savoury dishes such as onion jam, jalapeno or chili. And don’t forget free fruit such as crab apples and blackberries.
Although the word relish describes all jams or chutneys, what comes to mind is a more North American type of hot dog relish which is sharp, sweet and refreshing.
Sweetcorn makes a great relish and is something you come across often, but there are also different cucumber relishes that take some beating. In your home vegetable garden you could use rhubarb, green tomatoes and sweet peppers too.
The word chutney originates from South Asia from the Sanskrit word catni, which means to lick, so it seems that finger licking good is more Asian than American.
There are no hard and fast rules in making chutney, but they are usually heavily spiced with the addition of vinegar or lemon juice as a preservative.
Tomatoes and beetroot are often used as the main ingredients to make chutney, but they can be made with any combination of home vegetable garden fruit and veg.
One all time favorite chutney is called piccalilli, a mix of cauliflower and fine beans with a selection of spices and white wine vinegar.
When we think of ketchup the first type that comes to mind is tomato, and there is absolutely no better way of getting through those excess tomatoes than to make them into a sweet yet tangy ketchup. But ketchup didn’t have its beginnings there as it has most probably come from the word kicap, a far eastern word for fish sauce, or possibly the word koe-chiap meaning the brine of pickled fish, mmm, not something many children would dip their chips into.
Here are some ideas for making ketchup with a difference. Why not grow yellow tomatoes and make a yellow tomato ketchup. Mushroom ketchup is worth a go, or how about roasted sweet pepper or thai chilli. We have never tried it but I bet that a beetroot ketchup would look amazing.
Preserving is not the only way to make your vegetables last, as probably the home vegetable garden best friend is the freezer, but there are a lot of vegetables that will store well without too much fuss, just a dark, cool, dry and frost free room.
Take a look at these ideas for growing vegetables for your kitchen garden.