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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Sealing Jars Of Christmas Chutney

    In Nigella's Christmas book she makes some chutneys and relishes for gifts and puts the hot mixture in a jar. She then says to "seal the jar". Do you mean just put the lid with the rubber ring on it and let it seal itself, or do you want us to to put it into a boiling water bath the way we do with pickles? I would think that would boil the flavour out of it, but just thought I should check. The chutneys sound wonderful. Thanks Rosemary

    From the nigella team:

    There is a slight difference between sealing jars of jam and chutney and the method used for pickling and for canning fruits and vegetables. Jams and chutneys are made by boiling the fruit and other ingrdients together until setting point is reached (for jams) or the mixture is suitably reduced (for chutneys). The warm mixture is then poured into warm sterilized jars and sealed either with a lid or wax paper plus a cellophane wrapper. If you are making a chutney then make sure that the lid is plastic coated as metal can react with the acid in the chutney. If you are using a lid with a rubber seal we would suggest that you press a wax paper disc on to the surface of the jam or chutney then add the seal and screw the lid on tightly. 

    The canning and pickling method requires the foods to be put in the jars then sealed and submerged in boiling water for a set amount of time, partly to cook the contents and partly to create a vacuum seal in the jar to help preserve the contents. For Nigella's recipes this is not necessary as the higher quantity of sugar plus long cooking time for jams and chutneys are the perserving factors. However it is necessary to properly sterilize any jars and seals before use. Nigella considers a jar and lid straight from a dishwasher to be sterilized - as long as you don't touch the insides of both when you take them out. You can also sterilize jars and lids/seals by washing in warm soapy water, rinsing with clean warm water and drying them with with a clean cloth. Then put the jars and lids into an oven preheated to 140c/280F for 10 minutes. Kilner jars should have their rubber seals put in position before they are put in the oven. Seals for Mason jars can be sterilized by immersing for a few minutes in a pan of boiling water and then put on clean kitchen paper (paper towels) before using, but be sure to use tongs to handle them rather than your hands. 

    Warm jams and chutneys should always be put into warm jars as if the glass is cold the sudden change in heat could cause them to crack. Once the jars are cool they should be clearly labelled and stored in a cool, dry and dark place. Jams and chutneys should last for up to 1 year if unopened. Once opened, store in the fridge and use within a month.

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