In a Pickle

| 16th August 2017
Wow, we’ve had some great weather this summer!

The bees are making lots of honey, the hens are happy pottering around in the sunshine and the kitchen garden is looking set to yield another bumper harvest!

But as the trees and bushes are heavy with fruit, there’s no time for us to just sit back and admire their offerings, we need to get busy preserving the summer crops allowing us to enjoy their sweetness in the colder darker months ahead.

I love the concept of preserving; picking something wonderful in it’s moment of perfection and doing all you can to maintain its goodness for as long as possible. Whilst there are many techniques to choose from, be that freezing, drying, fermenting, pickling in vinegar, making jam with sugar, cooking down for a chutney, curing with salt, etc. the mission is the same – to prevent deterioration usually caused by bacteria. Germs need warmth and moisture to breed so by reducing the water content of our food through salting, cooking and drying we decrease the chance of it spoiling, freezing food inhibits bacterial growth as it’s just too cold.

So what will we be preserving and how this year at Hen Corner?

Apples are our biggest crop and we’ve developed some recipes that allow us to make four main products from the bountiful harvest. First we select some of the best Bramley apples to peel, chop and freeze as these are perfect for apple pies throughout winter, then we gather as many apples as possible, from friends and neighbours too, for our annual Cider Sunday event. After washing and chopping the apples, they are crushed to make juice that we ferment into cider, the byproduct pulp is then used to make both Apple Wine and one of our favourite preserves, Apple and Chilli Jelly.

Plums and berries will be made into jam and vegetables from the kitchen garden will be transformed into wonderful pots of pickles and chutneys. Sometimes I think I prefer the preserved goodies than the fruit and vegetables when they are freshly picked.

As we know, patience is a virtue, and all good things come to those who wait, this is very true when it comes to pickling and preserving. Most of our treats, whilst we make them when the sun shines, mature perfectly to be enjoyed a few months later at a mid winter feast. So label well and squirrel them away in a dark place to enjoy when the tree branches are bare and the nights are drawing in.

If you’d like to try some preserving yourself, come and join us for one of our courses:

Pick & Pickle – Tuesday 12th September

Pickles, Chutneys, Jellies and more!

Stroll around our London kitchen garden picking the best of the bounty, then off to the conservatory to prep & preserve… Full Details Here

Fruit Wines & Liqueurs – Thursday 21st September

Whilst we use many techniques throughout the year to preserve our home grown produce, this course transforms garden fruits into delicious drinks that will warm the cockles of your heart…

Full Details Here

Other News:
  • July was crazy for us with 60 individuals coming on Courses and Corporate Events, as well as a couple of Schools visits, Summer Fairs & Markets and some bumper weeks at the Bakery
  • It’s been a pleasure to work with the NCS Challenge again and welcome an enthusiastic group of young people for their professional partner visit
  • We’ve had a fabulous family holiday in France and were delighted to meet up with the wonderful Becky from Rue Du Belvedere, more of that to come next blog post.
Jobs for the Week:
  • Explore the overgrown Kitchen Garden to gather crops for preserving
  • Prune back our massive grapevine so that the fruit can see the sunshine
  • Keep up to speed with jelly making, we’ve got 40kg of apples to process!

Do you make any preserves this time of year? If so, where do you get your recipes from, family traditions or modern books?

Have a great week,


Other Posts


Joy Westwood 17th April 2018 at 9:34 pm

Sahara I have just watched you on tv, I have tried to make chilly jam just for my domestic use and family . Could you possibly ring me as I need some guidance . I’m no competition to you as I’m 75 and just love to use my windfalls. 07788101785

hen_admin 17th April 2018 at 10:11 pm

Hi Joy,

If it helps we run a lovely day course called Pick & Pickle which includes our Apple & Chilli Jelly…
Full details are here:

Jean Williamson 17th April 2018 at 10:06 pm

I need to try this

Jean Williamson 17th April 2018 at 10:08 pm

I have seen this on TV and I would love to try it


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