What do you give as gifts to someone who seems to have everything? I enjoy giving and receiving preserves, in an attractively packaged basket or bag. They are a welcome alternative to flowers or bottles of wine.

Unlike baked goods, most preserves have a shelf-life of at least a year, providing culinary pleasure for months. Customise gifts to suit the time of year or the preferences of the recipient.

Gifts for a festive season might include a mincemeat, a jelly, a chutney, a pickle and a liqueur. During the summer months, cordials, fruit curds and jams. Whatever the time of year, marmalade is often a good choice.

It is important to label the jars with the name of the preserve and any guidance about storage. If a chutney is hot or mild, or if a jam or marmalade contains alcohol. Fruit curds and relishes have short shelf-lives. Label them with the date made and instructions to refrigerate with “eat by” dates.

Choose a suitable container for the preserves. Baskets, boxes or jam jar bags are available to buy online or in specialist craft shops or florists.

If decorating a jar appeals, there is a wealth of gingham and other fabrics to buy, although I am not a fan of frills on jars. I prefer a clean bright jar with a classy label.

Many Jam recipes include apples, here is a great example which looks very attractive in gifts.

Raspberry and Apple Jam Recipe

Makes about 2.25kg (5lb)

1kg (2.2lb) Raspberries
100ml water
340g (12oz) peeled, cored and sliced cooking apples ( prepared weight)
1.4kg (3lb) granulated sugar

1. Place the raspberries in a large pan .Very gently simmer the fruit for about 10 minutes. Place the apples in a separate pan with the water, cover the pan and cook over a low heat until the fruit is quite soft, about 10 minutes. Warm the sugar in a low oven, 140C/275F/Gas 1.

2. Add the cooked apples to the raspberries. Remove the sugar from the oven. Add the sugar to the pan and stir until it has dissolved. Bring the jam to a rolling boil and boil hard until setting point is reached.

3. Test for a set after 5 minutes using the flake, cold plate or thermometer test. As soon as setting point is reached, remove the pan from the heat and leave it to stand for a few minutes. Push any scum from the surface of the pan to the side and remove it with a metal spoon.

4. Gently stir the jam and pour it into clean warm jars, up to the brim. Seal the jars immediately either with new twist-top lids or waxed discs and cellophane covers secured with rubber bands.If using cellophane covers, apply them when the jam is cold in the jars.

For more Preserves Recipes First Preserves: Marmalades, Jams, Chutneys or First Preserves: eBooks

Preserve Your Own – Strawberry Jam

Preserve Your Own – Rhubarb Jam

Preserve Your Own – Strawberry and Black Currant Curd

Preserve Your Own – Sweet Corn and Pepper Relish

Preserve Your Own – Tomato and Pepper Chutney

Preserve Your Own – Redberry Jelly Recipe

Preserve Your Own – Piccalilli

Preserve Your Own – How to Make Syrups and Cordials

Preserve Your Own – Fruit Butters & Cheeses

Preserve Your Own – Preserves as Gifts

Preserves as gifts

Lemon Curd Vivien Lloyd

Raspberry Jam

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