Preserves - Winter
Preserve the seasons at River Cottage HQ with a practical day of marmalade and chutney making as well as exploring the ancient art of ferments and infusions.
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 Winter Preserves course you will make a classic marmalade and learn about a honey-based fermented version as well as low sugar options. Next, you will tackle a lemon curd with seasonal variations and a pectin-based stock before taking a break for a delicious lunch, prepared by the River Cottage chefs. In the afternoon sessions you will embrace fermenting, including kimchi, sauerkraut and preserved lemons, as well as the creative skills for infusing and drying ingredients to ensure you use every element. 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.
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 Rachel and your River Cottage team host over tea, coffee and seasonal treats fresh from the kitchen.
Session one - Marmalade
What’s the difference between jam, jelly and marmalade? Rachel will guide you through the basic principles of homemade marmalade with hands-on making and tastings including historical marmalade recipes like a honey-fermented Greek version. 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 - Curd
As well as learning how to make a classic lemon curd, Rachel will guide you through seasonal variations and show you how to add playful flavour twists, like gooseberry with elderflower or blackcurrant and lemon verbena curd.
Session three - Pectin
Rachel will teach you about pectin’s role in helping achieve the perfect set and show you how to make homemade pectin stock as an alternative to using commercial jam sugar.
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 four - Drying
This is the oldest and arguably the healthiest and easiest way to preserve food. Rachel will take you through an impressive array of things she’s dried such as mushrooms, whole citrus fruits, herbs which you can then powder and use creatively (such as bay powder, which is brilliant dusted over mince pies or rubbed into a joint of beef before roasting), dried horseradish root and more.
Session five - Fermenting
In this session Rachel will discuss the ancient craft of fermentation and the use of salt to preserve food. You’ll be making your own batch of seasonal sauerkraut to take home, featuring produce from our kitchen garden. You’ll also learn how to make kimchi and lacto-fermented pickles. Taking your fermentation knowledge a step further, we’ll look at Moroccan-style salt-preserved lemons and Japanese umboshi using local and seasonal produce.
Session six - Infusing
Infusing things like tomato skins (if peeled for making bottled tomatoes) or fruit pulp left from straining jellies can give you the most amazing flavoured vinegars, gins and more. This part of the day really helps you to embrace things in your kitchen that might otherwise go to waste. Rachel will show you how to make the most of every little scrap and you’ll get to taste the fruits of her labour with one of her seasonal fruit-infused gins or honey-fermented cordials.
There will be time to chat to your course tutor and your fellow scholars, as well as label and bundle all your homemade goodies up to take home, 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.
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 an 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