Preserves - Autumn
Preserve the seasons at River Cottage HQ with a practical day of jam and chutney making as well as exploring the more specialist areas of vinegars, tonics and ingredient drying.
Preserving our home-grown and locally sourced produce is one of the key elements of River Cottage life. It is the perfect way to transform gluts, ensuring everything you grow or buy does not go to waste. It is also an ideal opportunity to capture the seasons as we travel through them, preserving the sunshine of summer fruits, the harvest abundance of autumn and the roots and zingy citrus of winter.
We have created a seasonal series of preserve days, led by the chef, tutor, cookery writer and author of our forthcoming River Cottage Fermentation Handbook, Rachel de Thample. Hosted in our award-winning cookery school, each immersive course is designed to equip you with the techniques and tips to build skills and confidence in tackling cordials, jams, chutneys, pickles, liqueurs, tisanes, gut-friendly ferments and more.
On our Autumn Preserves course you will learn how to make jam using seasonal producing, including fruits you’ll pick from our own orchard. Not wasting a scrap, you’ll use your apple peels and cores to start a homemade apple cider vinegar. Rachel will talk you through all the uses for your vinegar, both medicinal and in preserves before guiding you through a session on how to preserve autumn hedgerow fruits, where you’ll learn to make olives out of sloes and turn hawthorn berries into delicious fruit leathers. We will take break for a delicious lunch, prepared by the River Cottage chefs. The afternoon sessions begin with chutney making before you tackle drying, the oldest form of preserving. You’ll make your own jar of dried mushrooms to take home for use in stews, pastas or breads. You and the results of your hard work will then head back up the hill at the end of the day.
09:30 - 17:00
Arrive at River Cottage
You will be met at the top of the hill at 9.30am and begin your River Cottage experience with a 10-15 minute walk through the pathways down to the farm, enabling you to really soak up the views of the valley.
Make yourself at home
Meet your course tutor Rachel and the River Cottage team host over tea, coffee and seasonal treats fresh from the kitchen.
Session one - Jam-making
What’s the difference between jam, jelly and marmalade? Rachel will guide you through the basic principles of homemade preserving with hands-on making and tastings. We will start the day in the orchard to gather fruits before turning them into pots of luscious jam. Rachel will also look at low sugar and alternative sweet options as a healthy approach to preserving and will share advanced techniques and fun flavour tricks.
Session two - Pectin
Rachel will teach you about pectin’s role in helping achieve the perfect set and you’ll learn how to make homemade pectin stock as an alternative to using commercial jam sugar.
Session three - Homemade apple cider vinegar
Nothing goes to waste in this jam-packed day. This session celebrates the scraps from the apples we used to make jam as we whip up our own mini batch of homemade apple cider vinegar. Apple peels and cores will never go to waste in your kitchen once you embrace this simple art. Beyond learning how to make it, Rachel will also show you how to use your homemade vinegar both as a tonic and as a key preserving ingredient for chutney and pickles.
Session four - Autumn hedgerow
Our hedgerows are heaving in the autumn and Rachel will take you out for a forage to show you what you can gather and preserve this time of year. You’ll learn how to turn sloes into olives, damsons into a Japanese-style umeboshi paste, rosehips into a medicinal tonic and hawthorns into fruit leathers.
Food is always the focus at River Cottage, and a two-course local, seasonal lunch will be one of the highlights of your day with some of our favourite preserves making an appearance.
Session five - Chutney
What’s the difference between a pickle, jam and a chutney? How much vinegar to sugar do you use per weight of fruit and veg? Can you swap the sugar for honey? Rachel will answer all your questions as you make your own jar of Glutney, a treasured River Cottage classic created by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The recipe is a brilliant canvas for transforming seasonal gluts into delicious homemade chutney.
Session six - Drying
This is the oldest and arguably the healthiest and easiest way to preserve food. Rachel guides you through making your own jar of dried wild mushrooms.
There will be time to chat to your course tutor and your fellow scholars, as well as label and pack up your homemade goodies, before heading back up the hill at 5pm.
Please note: This is a guide to the activities that will make up your course at River Cottage. This is by no means set in stone and will depend on seasonal availability.
On occasion cookery schools will use equipment that includes induction hobs. It is recommended that people with pace makers should not work on these units. If you are concerned or would like to check whether or not induction hobs will be used on the course you are interested in, please call us on 01297 630302.
This course is run from River Cottage HQ on the Dorset/Devon borders. Full address details of HQ will be provided once you have booked.
We are a licensed venue. We have a wide selection of the finest organic wines available to purchase.
We would advise that this course is only really suitable for 12 years of age and upwards. Under 16s must be accompanied by a paying adult. We put these guidelines in place for the safety, comfort and enjoyment of all our guests.
With many of our courses there are often treats and leftovers to take away with you. In our quest to be more sustainable we are encouraging guests to bring their own containers and bags to transport their produce home. Details of what is required for each course will be included in booking emails.
- Sustainable Restaurant Association
- Food and Travel Magazine 2017
- Great British Food Awards 2017
- Great British Food Awards 2018