The Le Parfait Starter Kit: First recipes
2013 saw Le Parfait, creators of the stylish French preserving jars, launch a brand new product aimed at preserving beginners. The Starter Kit comes with jars, an easy to follow heat preservation manual, a short recipe book and beautiful packaging for gifting homemade preserves.
The cooking technique of heat preserving is one which has been around for almost a century and is surprisingly easy to master. The Starter Kit was developed to bring preserving into a new age and make the technique accessible to the next generation of home cooks. There are a few simple rules to remember but once these have been mastered, they can be applied to almost any fruit or vegetable.
One of the most important things to remember is that your ingredients should be good quality, seasonality is very important. Heat preserving with ingredients that are in their prime means they will always give you the freshest possible taste, even if you won’t be eating your preserves until many months after making them.
No matter how limited or advanced a preserver’s skills are, here are a year’s worth of recipe ideas to keep them busy.
A winter of Le Parfait (December to February)
Although the winter months mean cold weather and short daylight hours, there are still lots of vegetables which are in season and are ideal for preserving.
The Le Parfait website has a how to video for a fantastic recipe for Kimchi by Made in Hackney, an inner city cookery school who support seasonal and locally grown produce. The recipe uses white cabbage, carrots and turnips all of which are winter seasonal vegetables combining them with chilli and spices to create a delicious condiment for beef, chicken, rice or noodles.
A recipe for the popular Eastern European pickle Sauerkraut, which uses red or white cabbage can be found in Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi’s preserving manual The Gentle Art of Preserving. Add to a salad with walnuts and grated carrots for a crisp taste or mix into batter for savoury pancakes.
Pears are one of the few fruits that are easily available in November, December and January in the UK and the recipe booklet which comes included in The Starter Kit has an idea for those with a sweet tooth. Pears in Vanilla Syrup is a simple recipe which involves adding the fruit and a vanilla pod to a little water and sugar. Coat with hot chocolate sauce for a quick dessert or add to sparkling water for a refreshing sweet tipple.
Le Parfait’s website also has simple recipes to preserve other seasonal vegetables, such as Brussels Sprouts, a recipe from Divertimenti Cooking School for Red Onion Chutney and Piccalilli using carrots, cauliflower and onions, perfect to accompany Boxing Day ham.
A spring of Le Parfait (March to May)
Spring seasonal vegetables include green beans, leeks, cucumber and asparagus. Start with the very easy Green Beans recipe in the Le Parfait Starter Kit recipe booklet. Once preserved, like all recipes these will last up to a year.
The Le Parfait website has another easy to follow recipe for Pickled Cucumber, all that’s needed are some herbs and water. It makes a fresh tasting accompaniment to Asian inspired dishes like spicy noodles and beef stir fry.
Early spring is also orange season abroad which means it is the best time to make marmalade. Expert preserver Vivien Lloyd has a host of recipes in her book for beginners, First Preserves, many of which are also on the Le Parfait website. There is also an Orange Marmalade recipe in The Starter Kit recipe book.
A summer of Le Parfait (June to August)
Summer is the season of tomatoes, so snap up lots of them and make batches of tomato sauce to last all year round. There is a great recipe in the Starter Kit recipe booklet and also on the Le Parfait website. Experiment with herbs for different flavours.
When temperatures in the UK are at their warmest it is the best time for harvesting fruits. Blueberries, cherries, plums, raspberries, blackcurrants and rhubarb are all in their prime at this time so try the Strawberry, Blueberry and Honey Jam by Made in Hackney on Le Parfait’s website. A video with Yasmin, one of the cookery teachers at Made in Hackney guides you through each step.
As ever, Le Parfait’s website has many summer recipes to choose from including Poached Rhubarb with Ginger and Raspberries by preserving experts and cooks Estelle and Vincent or a Fruits of the Forest jam with blueberries and blackcurrants.
Refreshing cordials can also be made during the summer months. On Le Parfait’s website can be found an Elderflower Cordial, perfect when paired with gin and soda water for a light summer evening drink.
An autumn of Le Parfait (September to November)
October is apple season, use them in an Apple Sauce with Cinnamon recipe featured in the Starter Kit recipe booklet. The sauce is great for creating delicious apple pies or as a topping for ice cream for a simple, super sweet dessert. Catherine Phipps’s book, The Pressure Cooker Cookbook has a recipe for Apple and Tarragon Jelly for when the basic preserving skills have been mastered.
Squash and potatoes are staple autumn vegetables and Le Parfait have developed an easy Squash Chutney recipe which features on their website. There is also a Sweet Potato Puree with added cinnamon for a spicy touch.
Autumn also sees the return of mushroom season. Try Estelle and Vincent’s Mushroom Confit which has a step by step video on Le Parfait.com or Deborah Robertson’s Mushroom Ketchup from her book Gifts from the Garden for an unusual spin on the regular tomato.
The Starter Kit:
£15.99, available from www.leparfait.co.uk
The kit is made up of:
1 x 1L Le Parfait Super Jar, 2 x 0.5L Le Parfait Super Jar, a Le Parfait step-by-step preserving how to guide, a Le Parfait recipe guide with 6 easy recipes, a set of labels to add to homemade preserves, a gift box for a 0.5L Le Parfait Super Jar.