Saturday 21 May 2022

Bacon Jam. Bacon Jam recipe

Home made Bacon Jam

Bacon jam is made by slow cooking a combination of bacon, onions, brown sugar and vinegar, then blitzing the mixture in a food processor and putting into jars. Variations on this recipe include altering the cooking time between 2 and 6 hours and adding other ingredients such as maple syrup, garlic and a variety of spices.
Without the sweeter igrediants, the recipe bears some similarity to the Austrian dish, Verhackert. Verhackert is a spread of minced bacon, combined with garlic and salt. A traditional dish, the preparation of bacon takes place over two months, which includes freezing the meat two to three times. Once the meat is ready, it is minced with the other ingredients and pressed into a terrine. Verhackert is served cold with bread as an appetiser.

Ingredients for Bacon Jam:

500g smoked bacon. Thick back bacon works best.
1 tablespoon butter
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chile powder
½ teaspoon ground mustard
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup sweet bourbon or brandy
2/3 cup strong brewed coffee
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 ½ tablespoons Tabasco or similar hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Slow cook the bacon on a low heat, either in an oven or start the process in a frying pan and finish off in the oven. You should be able to crumble the bacon almost to a powder once it has cooled.

Once cooled, set the bacon aside. 
2. Next, caramelise the red onions by using some of the bacon fat and butter and slow frying. Adding a splash of vinegar to the onions whilst caramelising will stop them sticking and burning and help with the process

3. When the red onions are almost done, add the, brown sugar and a pinch of salt and slow cook for around 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Add the garlic and spices and sauté for an additional 5 to 8 minutes. Season with pepper.

5. crush the bacon and return the bacon to the pot and stir until well combined.

6. Pour the bourbon/brandy into the bacon mixture and cook the liquid down for about 3 to 4 minutes.

7. Add the remaining ingredients, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.

8. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

9. Skim off any fat/grease that has formed at the top and discard.

10. Pour the mixture into a food processor or use a hand mixer and process until desired consistency is achieved.

11. Serve warm or decant into sterilised jars, in the refrigerator, until ready to use. Bacon Jam unopened has a shelf life of around 2 months or 2 weeks once open.

Cooking Bacon Jam

Make authentic Tabasco Sauce from the Original Recipe

This recipe is great fun and makes perfect fermented hot sauce, just like the original Mcllheny Tabasco Sauce

Tabasco Sauce Recipe 

The Original McIlheny method (1800's): 

Avery Island (trivia: the "island" is really a natural salt dome; originally all salt 
used in production came from natural salt digs in the area), where some of the peppers are grown, is the production site. Grind peppers. Add 1/2 cup kosher salt per gallon of ground peppers and allow salted mash to age in oak barrels. The barrels are topped with a thick layer of salt and allowed to ferment. The salt layer serves as a permeable barrier that allows gases to escape but allows no bacteria, fruit flies, etc. access to the mash. McIlheny allows them to age three years in these oak barrels. After ageing, the mash is pulled, checked for quality and, if OK, it is blended with white wine vinegar (they don't say how much) and aged some weeks more (another secret). Finally, the product is pulled, strained and the liquid bottled.  If you read the label of ingredients on a Tabasco sauce bottle, the only ingredients are Chilli Peppers, Vinegar, and Salt.  It is the ageing in the oak barrels that sets its flavour apart from any other hot sauce I have ever tried. 

Replicating this at home: 

Important Note: as you are going to need the liquid from the peppers, they must be fresh, fleshy and of the right state of ripeness. At Avery Island they still use the original "critique baton rouge", a red stick tinted to the exact colour of the peppers to be harvested.  Peppers not matching the "critique" are rejected. Old or over-dried peppers are the key to failure. One trick for garden peppers is picking them as they are just at the right stage (I've been doing this with super cayenne peppers), then popping them into freezer bags until I have enough to make a batch of sauce. 

You will want a ratio of approximately 30:1 mash to salt. 

Grind your peppers, seeds and all, in a fine pulp. You can use a food processor or blender to do this, but be careful, it gives off quite the equivalent of mild pepper spray, do it in a ventilated room.

Mix with salt and put into a demijohn or similar fermenting vessel. Have a look on ebay or go to a brewing shop for this 

Add enough sterile water so the whole puree is pourable. Place a fermentation lock (available from homebrew / wine making shops) on the demijohn or fermenting vessel. 

Use a Campden tablet (from same source as above) in the lock. This stops wild yeast or bacteria getting in and affecting the flavour.  Liquid will form. Allow to ferment until the mash stabilises (stops fermenting). 

place the jugs in a warm place. It may be 2-3 months or more before obvious fermentation begins. It is a very slow ferment. It will last a couple of months from this point.  

After fermentation is complete pour the mixture into a large glass bowl and add some white wine vinegar to taste. Try out different ratio's to your taste.

Once you have decided on a ratio, add the vinegar to the fermentation vessels if room allows, or transfer to larger vessels that have been sterilised. Allow to sit for another 2 weeks for the flavour to develop.

After the two weeks or so, run the mash through a Chinoise (conical sieve with a fine mesh), fine strainer, or, last resort, throw it all into a sterile bowl lined with cheesecloth, fold the cheesecloth up into a ball (like making cottage cheese) and twist & squeeze until the juice is extracted. 

Adjust for taste with salt. Bottle the juice in sterile bottles and keep in fridge. You might want to heat the sauce to pasteurize it.  You can also use a little potassium sorbate to preserve it (available from the same homebrew/wine making shop) in the concentration for wine. 

If there is a question as to whether the material has fermented, if the liquid that forms on top (with the pepper slurry settled out) is very red, then fermentation has occurred.  Otherwise the liquid on top will be very pale and almost colourless. 

Variables: Age of peppers. Variety. Water content. Consistency of ripeness.amount of vinegar and amount of salt. 

Win or lose, it's a lot of fun. The key is: Keep all your stuff clean and sanitised!  Enjoy the effort! 
Amaze and astound your friends with your own hot pepper sauce. If it doesn't beat Tabasco, sweat it not. It took Mr. McIlheny several years to perfect it.

Thursday 19 May 2022

History of Pickles and Chutneys

What is Pickle and what are Pickles?

Pickles are foodstuffs preserved in an acid solution which keeps the food from spoiling using anaerobic fermentation. The acidity kills and prevents growth of bacteria and fungus that would otherwise cause the ingredients to spoil and decompose.

The acid can either be added, usually using vinegar, or created by the natural fermentation process. 

Fermentation is the anaerobic or partially anaerobic oxidation of carbohydrates by either microorganisms or enzymes (as opposed to putrefaction which is the oxidation of proteins). 

Fermentation can have both positive and negative effects. When the fermentation occurs in a controlled way, it yields lactic acid which inhibits the growth of undesirable microorganisms. 

The pickling process is biologically complex (and has only been studied in detail for a few economically-important pickles), but consists in part of the actions of yeasts from the Saccharomyces family, especially S. cerevisiae, which convert carbohydrates to alcohols and bacteria of the Lactobacillaceae family which produce enzymes which oxidise the alcohols to lactic and acetic acid.

The contemporary use of the terms pickle and chutney generally refer to one or more ingredients preserved in a thick sauce often containing sugar, vinegar, spices and flavourings. 

The PH of a chutney or a pickle is typically below 4.6; sufficient to kill most bacteria and therefore preventing the food going bad. Techniques and recipes may also utilise antimicrobial herbs and spices which include mustard, garlic, cinnamon and cloves.

In some cases pickling may increase elements of the nutritional value of the foodstuff through the process of B-vitamin creation by bacteria.

When making pickles and chutneys, it is essential that the jars or other vessels used to store the finished product are sterilised first to prevent the inclusion and subsequent growth of any fungus or bacteria that may be present. The presence of such can spoil the pickle of chutney and in extreme cases create poisons.

The History of Pickle and Pickles

The earliest know examples of pickled food are cucumbers known to have been pickled around 2030 BC in Mesopotamia, when inhabitants from northern India took cucumber seeds to the Tigris valley. 

Pickling has been used extensively throughout history as a way of preserving food for long journeys, especially by sea, and storage for eating later in the years and when the ingrediants are out of season.

Pickles are mentioned at least twice in the Bible (Numbers 11:5 and Isaiah 1:8), were known to the ancient Egyptians (Cleopatra attributed some of her beauty to pickles), and Aristotle praised the healing effects of pickled cucumbers. The Romans imported all sorts of foods from the countries they conquered, pickling them for the journey in vinegar, oil, brine and sometimes honey. Garum or Liquamen, a fermented, salted fish-based condiment was a dietary staple and has been found as far north as the Antonine Wall. 

Notable pickle loving characters from history include: Emperors Julius Caesar and Tiberius, King John and Queen Elizabeth I of England, Samuel Pepys, Amerigo Vespucci, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon Bonaparte.

The English word 'pickle' derives from the Middle English pikel, first recorded around 1400 and meaning 'a spicy sauce or gravy served with meat or fowl'. This is different to, but obviously related to the Middle Dutch source, pekel, meaning a solution, such as spiced brine, for preserving and flavouring food.

Saturday 14 May 2022

Chilli Jam (Chilli Jelly) Recipe

Chilli Jam (Chilli Jelly) recipe

You can vary this recipe by using different varieties of chillis. Scotch bonnets if you are feeling brave. Jalapenos work well also and give an interesting array of green flecks in suspension. Various combinations work well and leave plenty of room for experimentation.

  • 5-10 chili pepper deseeded and finely chopped, depending on how hot you want it to be
  • 1 large bell pepper cored, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 Kilogram Jam sugar (or 1KG granulated and pectin)
  • 600 Millilitres Cider or Red Wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • A thumb sized peice of root ginger.
  1.  Place the jars you will be using into a cold oven an switch on to 130C - hotter and they could shatter. They should be at full temperature for at least 15 mins to sterilise them.
  2. Place jar lids in boiling water to sterilise them. (Doing this kills bacteria, fungus etc and stops it growing and spoiling the jam once sealed.)
  3. Add the chilli, garlic, ginger and the bell pepper to a blender and blend till medium fine.
  4. Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a wide, medium-sized pan with a low heat. Stir as little as possible.
  5. Scrape the chilli-pepper mixture out of the blender and add to the pan once the sugar is disolved. Bring the pan to the boil and leave it boiling for around 15 minutes.
  6. Take the pan off the heat, stir and decant into hot sterilised jars that you have just retrieved from the oven (if you sterilise with an alternative meathod, let the mixture cool a little first to prevent the jars breaking.)
  7. Store in a dry cool place for up to 4 months. Once open eat within 3 weeks and keep in the fridge.

Friday 13 May 2022

Make Authentic Homemade HP Brown Sauce at home

The original recipe for HP Sauce was invented and developed by Frederick Gibson Garton, a grocer from Nottingham. He registered the name H.P. Sauce in 1895. Garton called the sauce HP because he had heard that a restaurant in the Houses of Parliament had begun serving it. For many years the bottle labels have carried a picture of the Houses of Parliament. Garton sold the recipe and HP brand for the sum of £150 and the settlement of some unpaid bills to Edwin Samson Moore. Moore, the founder of the Midlands Vinegar Company (the forerunner of HP Foods) subsequently launched HP Sauce in 1903.

HP Sauce became known as "Wilson's gravy" in the 1960s and 1970s after Harold Wilson, the Labour Prime Minister. The name arose after Wilson's wife, Mary, gave an interview to The Sunday Times in which she claimed "If Harold has a fault, it is that he will drown everything with HP Sauce".

Prep time: 25 mins

Cook time: 1 hour 40 mins

Total time: 2 hours 5 mins

Makes : 1 litre +

HP Sauce is to the British what Ketchup is to the Americans. It took years to create this clone, it's original, and it's it's pretty near perfect in my humble opinion. Try it for yourself. Recipe volume can be increased 4 times without effecting the flavour. The best home made HP sauce. Add a scotch bonnet chilli to spice it up.


150 ml water

250 ml white wine vinegar

300ml cider vinegar

2 small cans / tubes tomato paste

4 apples

3 small red onions

250 ml orange juice

250 ml apple juice

1 clove garlic

1 jar approx 300ml tamarind

1/4 cup pitted dates (chopped fine)

1/4 cup prunes

3 tablespoons black treacle

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon cardamom (ground)

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

3/4 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder


Rough chop 4 apples and 3 small red onions

Fine chop 1 clove of garlic

In a large pot, add the water, white wine vinegar, tomato paste, apple juice, orange juice, dates, prunes, black treacle, tamarind, garlic, apples and red onions.

Stir to blend.

Over medium heat and covered, bring mixture to a boil.

Reduce heat to a slow simmer and simmer covered for 25 - 30 minutes.

Using a spice grinder, thoroughly grind cloves, black peppercorns, cardamom, mustard seed, cayenne, salt, and cinnamon and allspice.

After simmering in step #1, use an immersion Blender to puree mixture and reduce lumps.

Add ground spice mixture to pot, stir to blend and simmer (covered) for another 30 - 45 minutes.

Add cider vinegar to pot, stir to blend and return to a simmer.

Simmer until thick.

Put a small amount of water into jars / bottle and heat until water is steaming either in an oven or in the microwave, to sterilise the bottles.Poor water out before using.

Ladle hot sauce mixture into hot, prepared sealable bottles and seal.

Allow to cool.

Combine ingredients in a large non stick pot

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Make A.1. Steak Sauce at home

The original sauce upon which A.1. is based was created in 1824 by Henderson William Brand, a chef to King George IV of the United Kingdom. A popular myth has it that the king declared it "A.1." and the name was born.

It went into commercial production under the Brand & Co. label in 1831, marketed as a condiment for 'fish, meat and fowl', and continued production under this label after bankruptcy forced ownership of Brand & Co. to be transferred to W.H. Withall in 1850.

It was renamed A.1. in 1873, after a trademark dispute between creator Henderson William Brand and Dence & Mason, who had since purchased Brand & Co. from Withall. It continued to be produced by Brand & Co. until the late 1950s at the firm's factory in Vauxhall, London.

It was introduced to the United States in 1895 under the ownership of G.F. Heublein & Brothers and marketed as "A.1 steak sauce". In 1931, A.1. was introduced to Canada.
Heublein was acquired by R. J. Reynolds in 1982, which merged with Nabisco in 1985 to form RJR Nabisco


125 ml. cold water 
150g (a full tube) of tomato puree
15/20 raisins
125ml. balsamic vinegar

65ml. worcestershire sauce
65ml. ketchup
65ml. dijon mustard (don’t substitute or you won’t get the same product)
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon salt
125 orange juice

250ml prepared tamarind (Either already mixed or create this from a dried block)


 1. Prepare the containers you intend to decant the finished sauce into. Steralise jars / bottles (there are a number of ways todo this; boil, heat in the over to 130C for 35 mins etc) not forgetting the lids - boil these to kill and bacteria or fungus that may be on them and would ruin the sauce whilst in storage.

2. Put all of the ingredients into a medium saucepan.  Give this a good mix.

3. On a medium heat, simmer sauce for about 15/20 minutes minutes until you achieve the desired thickness. 

4. Blitz the mixture with a hand blender or in a food processor.

5. Decant into hot sterilised containers and seal. The sauce will store in a cool dry place for 3 months - 2 weeks in the fridge once opened.