Recipe: A Trio of Preserves

Create these preserves at home and add a dash of flavour to any meal.

Georgia East

As the summer fades into autumn, there is a host of new produce to look forward to. Pumpkins and brassicas, citrus and deciduous fruit come into season as stone fruit, tomatoes, cucumbers and chillies wind down. For those with green fingers, this is often a time when surplus fruit and vegetables need to be preserved for the months ahead.

Even if one doesn’t have a veggie patch at home, grocery stores sell late harvest produce for a fraction of its original cost, tempting home cooks to dig out their collection of glass jars and fire up the stove.

Fruit such as quince that is only in season for a short time and best enjoyed cooked will benefit from being made into jam or poached with aromatics and served with almond tart and custard for a warming dessert come winter.

Whether you’re a fan of sweet preserves, tart pickles or perhaps a fiery chilli sauce, here are three simple recipes perfect for surplus fruit and veg.


Mustardy Pickled Cucumbers    



Makes 500ml     

  • 400g small cucumbers    
  • 150ml water  
  • 5ml white sugar
  • 10ml fine salt
  • 250ml white vinegar
  •  2 bay leaves
  •  5ml yellow mustard seeds


  • Use a pin to prick each cucumber a few times.
  • Heat the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, bay leaves and mustard seeds, not letting the mixture come to the boil.
  • Pack the cucumbers tightly into a large sterilized jar pour over the brine, ensuring the cucumbers are completely covered.
  • Tightly close the lid and leave the cucumbers to pickle for a week. Refrigerate after opening. 


Aromatic Poached Quince with Lemon & Rosemary



Makes 500ml     

  • 3 large quinces •
  • 500ml water
  • 200ml white sugar
  • 3 star anise
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  •  1 large sprig of rosemary


  • Combine the water, sugar and aromatics in large pot over medium heat.

  • Gently stir to dissolve the sugar and let the mixture reduce into a thin syrup.
  • Remove the rosemary sprig and discard. Peel and slice the quinces into eighths.
  • Immerse them in the syrup and cook on low heat for 25 to 30 minutes or until the fruit is pale pink and tender.
  • Gently transfer the quince into a sterilised jar and pour over the syrup along with the star anise and cloves.
  • Seal tightly and refrigerate after opening. Serve the poached quince with dense cakes or tarts or with ice cream or custard.


Smoked Chilli Sauce



Makes 4 250ml jars – reduce the recipe amounts if wanting to make a smaller batch.

  • 1kg red cayenne chillies, washed and dried

  • 4-8 sprigs of rosemary
  • 150ml coarse sea salt
  • 250ml olive oil
  • 500ml white wine vinegar



This recipe works best if using a smoker or kettlebraai. To smoke the chillies, a stainless-steel baking dish with a fitted grid over indirect heat of about 160°C works best.

  • Scatter the chillies over the grid and cover the dish with foil.
  • Put the dish over indirect heat and smoke for 20 – 30 minutes or until the chillies are gently blackened and soft.
  • Pull off the stalks of the chillies and add to a large food processor.
  • Strip the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and add them to the chillies, along with the sea salt.
  • Blitz to combine and while the processor is running, pour in the olive oil.
  • Once the mixture is finely chopped, spoon it into a large pot and pour over the vinegar.
  • Simmer the sauce over very low heat for 10 – 15 minutes then allow to cool.
  • Pour the sauce into sterilized jars and refrigerate after opening. The sauce is delicious on eggs, with chicken, fish and avocado or added to a peri peri marinade.


ALSO READ: Grilled Chicken With Chimichurri