Cranberries. They’re taking up my entire fridge. Not the Irish rock band, you understand (they wouldn’t quite fit), but the firm, sharp red berries that scream’Christmas’ as loudly as that other familiar red sphere, Santa. In preparation for the big day, I’m determined these will’linger’ no more. The Christmas bird will have its berry-based bedfellow!
So it’s timely I’ve recently been bestowed with a variety of Le Parfait preserving jars, those famous Gallic glass gourds. Hurriedly unearthing them from the box, out flutters a recipe sheet, like so much fake snow. Slightly concerned about doing this right, I’m after a recipe that will take me through the necessary steps, and the vital sterilisation process.
Cooking commenced and berries blipping away in the background, it’s time for Le Jar Prep. I’m a bit daunted by the initial heat treatment, which assumes ownership of a pressure cooker, but to my relief, the instructions also offer a saucepan method. And, wiping sweat from my brow I realise the heat treatment is required only if the recipe calls for it. This one doesn’t. Result.
So it’s just a leisurely quarter-hour of checking for chipped glass, washing the jars in hot water, and boiling the iconic orange rubber seals. Le Parfait hails from Reims, the jars developed as a solution to the townsfolks’ perennial conundrum of how best to eke out seasonal abundance from fish to fruit. Preserves, terrines and even complete’ready meals’ were popped into the innovative jars.
Firm favourites across France, these vessels are now renowned across the globe with a well-earned reputation for being sturdy, reliable and easy-to-use. Once sealed, you don’t even need a fridge- perfect for those sharing facilities with thieving housemates, and good, too, for presenting homemade wares for Christmas. The gold-screw-topped’Familia Wiss’ jars, in particular.
These blinged-out specimens are ideal for pates and meats, so will provide a welcome solution to dealing with all those proteinous scraps come Boxing Day. Special sealing caps aid long-term preservation, meaning they could well become Ã¢â‚¬ËœFamilia’ indeed, as the filled jars gather dust at the back of the larder. If ever you felt compelled to leave something to future generations…
Windows opaque with condensation and cranberries cooked down, I shove a circle of greaseproof paper into the bottom of the jars before dolloping the molten sauce on top. The hotter the better to ensure air-tight sealing, and the volcanic bubbles erupting from the red gloop indicate I’m on the right track- and ensure I keep my fingers well clear. Not one to sneak a scorching spoonful from.
My Le Parfait pair are brimming with sauce (but not above the limit line which would’limit’ their shelf-life), and I’m brimming with satisfaction. Yet more so as I perform the simple’snap’ test, unfastening the clamp to test the vacuum seal. Even at my sluggish pace, the complete process took no more than half an hour, far quicker than popping to the shop for a Milk Tray, and rather nicer.
So, posh gifts for mere pence. I’m left with attractive twin pots of scarlet-hued berry bounty, which, with a touch of gingham about the lid, will be pressed into service as stocking fillers, and could equally adorn the shelf of a local deli or farmer’s market stall. They might have a twelve month shelf-life, but I reckon one’ll have to be cracked open to accompany the turkey come Christmas Day.
In fact, sod the stockings- I decide the other will be mine and mine alone. As soon as it cools, I intend to tuck in. But what to eat with said sauce? Sans cranberries, my fridge is as baron as the Lapland tundra and popping to the shop in this bitter weather aint happening. Reluctantly conjuring all my willpower to mentally quash my hunger, I decide to wait until tomorrow. After all, it’ll keep.