How To Save Money With Jam Jars
Deli Lust And How It Tempts Me From The Path Of Thrift
I love delicatessens – the gleaming jars of artisan preserves, the baskets of freshly baked, crusty artisan bread, the charcuterie and cheeses lovingly crafted by artisan cheese makers. I want a larder filled with deli produce. The thought of all the lovely lunches I could make – friends and family gathered round a table loaded with cold cuts and tracklements, warmly engaged in witty conversation as they pick olives, pate, smoked goats cheese or whatever else they fancy off a big, beautiful, oiled wooden board. The board is artisanal too, by the way. In this fantasy I think even my friends and family might be artisanal, to be honest.
The reality is that I almost never shop in delis because, you know – not thrifty. And I harbour a suspicion that “artisan” just means hand made. And I have hands! I can make my own!
The DIY Deli – A Thrifty Solution?
Actually, I have yet to create a salami, and have not tried cheese making. Moreover I have read (repeatedly, with great pleasure) Bake The Bread And Buy The Butter, so I know without having to find out the hard way, that some produce is better produced commercially. (Although Jennifer Reese actually gives DIY cheese the thumbs-up for thrifty home-production.) Also, I have found that Aldi and Lidl can rival a deli for meats and continental cheese, at significantly lower prices. I am not entirely ruling out having a go at producing some of my own deli food though. I already hot smoke my own salmon and make a decent gravadlax – maybe a salami is not entirely beyond me.
Bread I can definitely do myself. (It’s actually pretty easy – try The River Cottage Bread Book for inspiration and guidance. Dan Stevens is the kindly vicar of bread-baking.) And anyone with a big pot can make a fabulous ham. (Long simmer over a low heat with a carrot, an onion, a couple sticks of celery and a single star anise. The stock makes a mean ham and butterbean soup too.)
And those gleaming jars of (artisan) preserves? I reckon I could manage some of them. Maybe a simple dipping oil made with August’s herb glut in the garden, or a raspberry vinegar to make divine salad dressings. Perhaps wonkywonderful.com’s lovely honey and herb mustard to serve with home-cooked ham. Or some of Pam-The-Jam Corbin’s mulled pears to serve with home-made pate. (Pate, by the way, is only about 5% kitchen wizardry and 95% food processor whizardry so I reckon I could manage that too.) And perhaps some of larderloves.com’s fruit cheese to serve with actual cheese. And chutney. And pickles. And a sweet chilli jelly. I could have my deli fare without paying deli prices for it. All I need is vinegar, sugar, oil and some empty jars.
Deli Preserves At Aldi Prices
So, this year, I want to add to my own little in-house deli by filling a cupboard with home-made preserves – just a few jars of each, a different one each month. That way I will always have something lovely to serve alongside Lidl salami and home-cooked ham. Plus, if we are going to eat at someone else’s table, I can take a little jar of something as a thank-you. I might even package it up with an actual artisan cheese…
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