Emma’s Store Cupboard Staples

Emma’s Store Cupboard Staples

When the world out there looks ever more uncertain, what we need is the security and comfort of home. And nothing could be more reassuring than a pantry stocked with homemade jellies, pickles and preserves. 

In August, September, October- the last of summer and heavenly early autumn- the days are bright and sunny, and they beckon you out of doors where a splendiferous harvest festival is being laid on for you wherever you look. There are the sharp sloes, waiting to be immersed in gin, the glinting elderberries, ripe and ready for syrups and tinctures, and robust crab apples just begging to be made into jelly. And of course, there are the blackberries calling to be made into jam.  

"Crab apple jelly is so good with hard cheeses, or indeed on top of a slathering of peanut butter on toast in the morning. Rosehip and elderberry are here to remind you to be adventurous and that it's worth seeking out new potentially titillating taste combinations" 

- Emma


Elderberry & Crab Apple Jelly


1kg elderberries (or sloes, or rosehips, or haws or a mixture)

1kg of crab apples

At least 1.5kg granulated sugar


Wash the elderberries well

Peel and roughly chop the crab apples, leaving the cores

Put all the fruits into a large pan, along with enough water (at least 500 ml) to come about halfway up the fruit. Bring to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally and crushing the fruit against the side of the pan, until soft and pulpy.

Tip the mixture into a jelly bag (or a large sieve lined with a cotton cloth) suspended over a bowl and leave to drain. If you want a clear jelly, just let the liquid drip through, but if you want to get the maximum yield and don’t mind if your jelly is a little cloudy, squeeze the pulp to extract every last drop of juice.

Measure the juice, then transfer it to a clean pan and add 750g sugar for every litre of juice.

Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil (skimming off any scum on the surface) until you reach setting point. If you have a thermometer handy this is at 106C, but you should be able to watch the viscosity change and the tiny air bubbles disappear. The surface will look glossy, and the mixture will feel thicker.

As soon as setting point is reached, remove the pan from the heat and pour the jelly into warm, sterilised jars. Cover with a disc of waxed paper, then a lid.

Leave for a few weeks to mature before eating.

"I still follow the time honoured, trusted ritual of collecting a colander full of blackberries" 

- Emma 

"The apple trees at the bottom of your garden are groaning and the windfalls in the grass tell you it's time to get busy as the fruits are ripening."

- Emma 

RHS Quince & Apple Chutney:

This delicous recipe comes from the Royal Horticultural Society


900g quince – peeled, cored and roughly chopped
900g Bramley apples, cored and roughly chopped
900ml white wine vinegar
2 red peppers - diced
250g dates, roughly chopped
2cm of fresh root ginger, peeled & grated
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon salt
900g light muscovado sugar


1. Measure the quince and apples into a large saucepan.

2. Add half the vinegar and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the fruits are just soft.

3. Add the remaining vinegar and ingredients. Bring back to the boil, simmer gently without the lid for about 30 minutes or until the chutney has reduced and the consistency is fairly thick.

4. Pour into sterilized jars, seal whilst hot and label.