Preserves in My Pantry From My Garden Harvest

Each year, I preserve a wide range of produce from the garden.

plum jam

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My preserving year is soon going to begin in earnest when I pick gooseberries from my forest garden and early wild raspberries from my polytunnel. I thought it might be useful to share some of the preserves currently in my home-grown pantry. 

My pantry is currently a few shelves on our back porch. But we are working on a barn conversion, which will be a forever home for my husband and me. And the plan includes a walk-in pantry, in the northeast corner of the kitchen, which will be outside the insulation envelope of the stone building. 

Even though I do not yet have my ideal pantry space, I do preserve a wide range of produce from the garden each year. All are easy preserves that can be made without a pressure canner or any other specialist equipment. I just have a large pan that I use as a water bath canner. (Though I may consider purchasing a pressure canner once my new larger pantry is ready.)

Apple Preserves

Apples are something we have in abundance here. There were already six mature apple trees in the orchard when we moved in. Each year, we juice a lot of apples, eat some fresh, and try to find a range of different ways to preserve the rest. Here are a few favorites which are in my pantry right now:

Unsweetened Apple Sauce

This is our favorite. A simple and well-known canning recipe using just stewed apples with a little water and nothing else; a water bath processed in jars for 15 minutes. We've experimented with adding sweetener and/or spices. But we love the versatility of having tart, unsweetened, chunky apple sauce on hand. We use it for a range of savory recipes such as soups and stews, as well as on its own.

Apple Pie Mix

I do also have a few jars of apple pie mix, with cooking apples, apple juice, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. All the ingredients are basically to taste. I blanch (briefly boil) the apple slices before they go into the jars and add apple juice, not water. Then I process the jars for 25 minutes. 

Apple Butter

I've made all sorts of apple jams, apple jellies, etc. But smooth and sticky apple butter is great over the winter months. We have just a couple of jars left. I processed my tart cooking apples in a slow cooker overnight with some sugar (1 cup sugar to 1 pound of apples) and spices until I was left with a smooth and sticky, deep brown apple butter, which I then process in the water canner for 10 minutes.  

Apple Cider Vinegar

Some of our trees have traditional cider apples, we have apple cider and apple cider vinegar too. I have a few bottles of apple cider vinegar which I use for cooking and many more bottles of scrap cider vinegar which I use for household cleaning and on my hair. 

Some of the preserves I made such as dill pickled apples, and dried apple slices, have already been eaten. I plan to make more dried apple slices next year to last us through to the next harvest since we really enjoyed those. Dill pickled apples we did enjoy with cheese, but probably don't like them enough to bulk up production. 

Plum Preserves

We also have a couple of plum trees in our orchard one mature tree and one young replacement for an old dead tree we added a couple of years ago. The mature tree produces very well and we are also now getting a few fruits from the newer addition. The flavor of the fruits can vary, and some years that are better to eat fresh and raw than others. 

In my pantry, at the moment, I have several jars of plum jam, two jars of plum chutney, three jars of spicy plum sauce (which I add to curries and use in a range of spicy recipes), and a jar of oven-dried prunes. We tend to get a bit bored of sweet plum recipes, but fortunately, plums also work very well in savory recipes alongside chillis and spices. 

Blackberry Preserves

My pantry also has blackberry preserves to see us through to the next harvesting season. I still have a couple of jars of blackberry syrup (which we use in cordials and drizzled over desserts) and three jars of blackberry jam (thickened with homemade apple pectin). The pint jars are processed for 10 minutes. 

Elderberry Preserves

I have tried a number of elderberry recipes, but our favorite is making elderberry wine. We tried this after a few months and were not that impressed, but after leaving it for over a year, it matured and tasted like a decent red wine. 

Redcurrant Preserves and Mixed Berry Preserves

We also have redcurrants and black currants in abundance in the forest garden. The redcurrants are just blushing red right now, so it won't be that long before we can restock. But I do still have a jar of tart redcurrant jelly (great with savory ingredients) in the pantry, along with three jars of mixed berry honey syrup. 

Raspberry Preserves

Raspberries are one of our favorite fruits here and we mostly eat our raspberries fresh from the garden and also put some fresh berries in the freezer. However, last year I did make a few jars of simple raspberry jam. These are all gone now though, so I will need to make some more to see us through to next year. 

Gooseberry Preserves

I have a lot of gooseberries growing in my forest garden, but I have to admit that we are all out of everything I made last year. Fortunately, I am about to harvest gooseberries again. And I will cover what I plan to do with these in my next article. 

I do of course have other things in my pantry. But these are some of the main ways we like to preserve the fruit from the forest garden each year.