Preserving an Ancient Art of the Middle East

Article excerpt

WHEN the nights start drawing in and the leaves slowly begin to turn golden, homes countrywide become filled with the smells of spicy chutneys and fruity jams bubbling away.

Autumn is also a welcome opportunity to hunker down and learn new skills, so when a colourful copy of the late Oded Schwarz''s Preserving Through The Year (Dorling Kindersley) landed on my lap, I couldn''t resist getting stuck into it.

Israeli Schwartz grew up with pickling in the blood. He said: "There are few things in life more enjoyable than producing your own pickles, relishes and sauces and consuming the fruit of your labour. In the Middle East, the love of preserved food crosses all cultural and religious boundaries."

But when he moved to England in the 70s, he found a lack of preserves he''d believed were everywhere. "The raw ingredients were all there. So, armed with an extensive knowledge gleaned from my youth, I set out to develop and modify ancient recipes to a Western palate."

The result is a book stuffed with delicious-sounding ways to preserve all kinds of food throughout the year, with tempting titles from candied apricots and vanilla flavoured peach marmalade to guava jelly and mango chutney. …