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Preserves - Summer

Preserve the seasons at River Cottage HQ with a practical day of jam, curd and cordial making as well as exploring the ancient art of ferments and infusions.

Preserving our homegrown and locally sourced produce is one of the key elements of River Cottage life. It is one of the best ways to transform gluts, ensuring nothing you grow or buy goes to waste. It is also the ideal opportunity for capturing 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 which are 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 Summer Preserves course you will turn fruits, berries and blossoms into the most delicious classic and sugar light fruit jams, cordials and alcoholic drinks. The morning will also involve you whipping up a jar of summer fruit curd, featuring delicious combos such as gooseberry and elderflower or blackcurrant and lemon verbena. We will take break for a delicious lunch, prepared by the River Cottage chefs. The afternoon sessions include an introduction to fermenting, where you’ll make a summer sauerkraut with herbs and veggies from the famous River Cottage kitchen garden. You’ll also make a fermented chilli sauce which you’ll age with oak before learning how to make magnificent pickles. The day will end with a demonstration on how to use the sun to dry food, with a delicious taster before you go home. The tractor will be ready to whisk you and the results of your hard work back up the hill at the end of the day.

Your day

09:30 - 17:00

  • Arrive at River Cottage

    You’ll be met at the top of the hill at 9.30am and transported to River Cottage HQ by tractor and trailer (approx. a 5 minute journey).

  • Make yourself at home

    Meet your course tutor Rachel and River Cottage team host over tea, coffee and treats fresh from the kitchen, including our homemade preserves.

  • Session one - Jam-making

    Gathering the season’s sweetest fruits from the famous River Cottage kitchen garden, Rachel will teach you how to make the most marvellous jam, with your own optional embellishments. We will look at ways of making jam with less sugar and sweet alternatives. Rachel will also share her knowledge about pectin, how to make your own pectin stock and how to achieve the perfect set for all your jams and marmalades throughout the year.

  • Session two - Summer fruit curd

    Rachel will show you how to master seasonal curds with make a summer fruit twist on classic lemon curd, such as gooseberry with elderflower or blackcurrant and lemon verbena curd.

  • Session three - Cordials & infusions

    Learn how to turn fragrant summer berries and blooms into delicious drinks and delicacies like elderflower & rhubarb gin, raspberry & fennel blossom cordial and rose honey. Using seasonal produce, you’ll make your own cordial or summer fruit vinegar to take home.

  • Lunch

    Food is always the focus at River Cottage, and a two-course lunch of local, seasonal ingredients will be one of the highlights of your day.

  • Sessions four - Ferments

    Preserving isn’t all about using lots of sugar. Throughout the day Rachel will be highlighting healthy ways to preserve food and fermenting. You’ll be making your own batch of summer sauerkraut to take home, featuring produce from our kitchen garden, as well as a fermented chilli sauce aged with toasted oak.

  • Session five - Pickling

    Rachel will take you through the basics of pickling - the roles of vinegar and salt in pickling, as well as how to make pickles with kombucha. You will also learn how to create an array of ethnic style pickles in all shapes, sizes and flavours, from quick Japanese pickles, lacto-fermented cherry tomatoes and Polish-style pickles.

  • Session six - Drying

    Utilise the summer heat to experiment with the oldest form of preserving food: sun-drying. Rachel will demonstrate the art of drying herbs, summer fruits, tomatoes and more with no fancy kit needed. Drying is not only one of the healthiest ways to preserve food, but also the easiest. Even more, you can really have fun with flavours by turning your dried produce into luxurious powders and beautiful homemade tisanes. You’ll finish the day with a little taster & a bundle of something to take home.

  • Departure

    There will be time to chat to your course tutor and your fellow scholars, as well as pack and label your handmade goodies before being whisked back up the hill by our tractor and trailer 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.

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Further information...

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.

Stay in our famous Farmhouse, click here. For other local accommodation click here.

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