Jams & Sauces

The first two recipes on this page for Red Pepper Sauce and Tomato-free Sauce are arguably the most important ones in my personal armour.  Being vegetarian it’s really difficult to find recipes which don’t contain tomatoes, so whenever I see a recipe which calls for a tin of chopped tomatoes I substitute either a jar of Red Pepper Sauce or a jar of Tomato-free Sauce and they work well.

Red Pepper Sauce     Makes: approx two 8oz jars   Time: 1½ hours

Photo of Red pepper sauce

4 red bell peppers, halved and with stalks and seeds removed
1 large tablespoon olive oil
2 crushed garlic cloves
2 shallots (or 1 small onion), roughly chopped
150ml (¼ pint, just under 2/3 cup) vegetable stock (made with 1 teaspoon Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon powder)
*sterilized jars

      • Heat oven to 200C (180C fan, gas mark 6, 400F).  Place the peppers on a baking tray, skin side up and roast in the oven for 45 minutes until the skins are blackened.
      • Remove peppers from the oven and place in a plastic bag for 10 minutes to sweat, which makes removing the skins easier.
      • When the peppers have cooled enough to handle, peel off the skins with your fingers.
      • Roughly chop the red pepper flesh.
      • Heat the oil in a medium metal saucepan (don’t use non-stick if using a hand blender later to puree), and fry the onion and garlic on a medium heat for 3 minutes.  Add the peppers, stir to combine, and fry for a further 2 minutes or until the onions are soft.
      • Add the stock, bring to the boil, and simmer on a medium heat for 5 minutes.
      • Cool slightly, then use a hand blender to blitz the pepper sauce until smooth (or transfer to a blender and puree).
      • Check for flavour, adding salt to taste.  If the pepper tastes slightly bitter you can add a little sugar.
      • Place in sterilized jars and seal immediately with lids.  Can be frozen when cold.

*To sterilize jars (I used old jam jars): Wash the jars in hot soapy water, then rinse under a hot running tap. Do not dry. Place the wet jars on a baking sheet and put in the oven at 120C (250F) for 10 minutes. They are then sterile and ready to use.

I’m not going to lie – this sauce is a pain to make, is messy and takes ages so I make batches of 8-10 jars at a time and freeze them.  I also make half jars and little tubs containing just 2 tablespoons as at least one of my main course recipes calls for 2 tablespoons of sauce.  An 8oz jar defrosts in about 3 hours at room temperature, or you can microwave on full power for 3 mins (stirring each minute to break the sauce up).   You can alter the flavour of the sauce by adding fresh basil or oregano, or herbs of your choice.

Tomato-free ‘tomato’ Sauce Makes: four 8oz jars Time: 45 minutes approx
(taken from the Allergy-free menu planners website)

Photo of tomato free sauce

1 medium onion, diced
1 large tablespoon olive oil
5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced fairly thinly
3 beetroot, diced (I used Tescos vacuum packet beetroot, which is pre-peeled and a lot less messy than raw beetroot. Do not use any beetroot which is pickled in vinegar. If using fresh, raw, beets 2 medium sized should suffice)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
400ml (1+2/3 cups) stock made with Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon powder
1 teaspoon dried, or preferably 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons lemon juice (preferably freshly squeezed, or Jiff)
salt & pepper
*sterilized jars for keeping or freezing

      • Heat the oil in a medium metal saucepan (do not use a non-stick pan if using a hand-blender to puree later), cover and fry the onion over a medium-low heat for approx 5-8 minutes until soft.
      • Add the carrots, garlic and beetroot and about 200ml of the stock. Cover and cook the veggies over a medium-low heat for approx 20-25 minutes, until the veg are soft when pierced with a sharp knife. Add a little more stock if the mixture becomes dry.
      • Add the herbs and lemon juice and season with salt & pepper.
      • Using a hand-blender (or by transferring to a blender or food processor), puree the mixture. Keep adding the remainder of the stock and blending until you get the consistency of sauce that you’d like. Check seasoning, adding more salt or herbs if needed.
      • Place into air-tight sterile jars and add lids straight-away.
      • This sauce will keep in the fridge for over a week or can be frozen as soon as it cools.

*To sterilize jars: see red pepper sauce recipe

Damson Jam:     Makes: approx 4 10oz jars or 6 8oz jars     Time: 45 mins

Damson jam recipe
1kg (2.2lbs) Damsons, washed (no need to peel or stone)
400ml (3/4 pint) water
1kg (2.2lbs) granulated sugar
sterilized jam jars with lids

  • Place the Damsons and water in a jam pan and simmer on a medium heat for 30 minutes.  Break open the Damsons with the back of a wooden spoon as they soften.
  • Add the sugar and stir for 5 minutes until dissolved.
  • Remove from the heat and use a spoon to skim off the stones – there will be dozens but it’s OK to miss the odd one.  I place the stones in a sieve over a bowl, which allows any liquid which comes with the stone to trickle through to the bowl.  When I’ve finished stoning I then return the liquid to the jam pan.
  • Bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring very often or the jam will stick to the pan (and be impossible to get off afterwards)
  • At the end of the 10 minutes pour into the sterilized jam jars.  The mixture will still look very runny – don’t be tempted to boil it for longer or it will set like cement!  Damsons are high in pectin, so the jam will set well once it cools in the jar.

Vegetarian Gravy:     Serves: 4 (1 pint)     Time: 7 mins

3 heaped tsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1 pint (500ml, just under 2½ cups) vegetable stock made with 2 tsp Swiss bouillon powder
1 level dessert spoon black treacle (optional)

  • Mix a little water with the cornflour until you have a thick, smooth paste.
  • Place the stock in a small saucepan on a medium heat.
  • Add the cornflour mixture to the stock, stirring so it doesn’t go lumpy.
  • Bring to the boil, stirring.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the treacle if using and mix together.  Simmer for 3-5 mins then serve.

Using the treacle gives the gravy a traditional dark brown colour, but if you’re happy with pale gravy you don’t need to use it.

Thai Red Curry Sauce:     Serves: 2     Time: 15 mins

1 red medium chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (you will need 12g chopped chilli)
1″ piece fresh ginger, grated
1 jar red pepper sauce (see the Jams & Sauces section for recipe)
100ml (3floz, 1/3 cup) coconut milk
20g (1oz) coconut cream (half a sachet, or approx 1 small tablespoon)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
rind of 1 lime (optional)
1 small tblsp olive oil

  • Heat the oil in a small saucepan on a medium heat.  Add the ginger and chilli and fry for 3 mins.
  • Add the spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric) and fry for another 2 mins.
  • Add all the other ingredients, mix well and heat through until the coconut cream is melted.  Season.

Mayonnaise:     Time:  5 mins      Makes: 1 large jar
Recipe courtesy of Gordon Ramsey.

Photo of mayonnaise

2 egg yolks
250ml ( just over 1cup) groundnut oil (of you tolerate nuts) or sunflower oil or light olive oil
juice of ½ a lemon
pepper + a pinch of salt (use a very small amount, taste, and add more if needed)

¼ tsp mustard (Coleman’s English mustard in a tube has allowed ingredients)

  • Place egg yolks in a food processor.  Start it running on the lowest speed.
  • With the processor running, pour in the oil very very slowly  – if you add the oil too quickly the mayo will curdle.
  • Once all the oil is added, and you have a thick mixture, add the lemon juice, mustard, season to taste and give another quick whizz to mix.
  • Store in a jar in the fridge.

I had 3 attempts at making mayonnaise in a blender and using a hand stick and they all failed.  But this food processing method seems to be fairly fool proof – watch the Gordon Ramsey video on Youtube (link above) if you need guidance.  You absolutely MUST add the oil drop by drop or in a very very slow dribble otherwise the mixture will separate.  It takes about 3 minutes to add the oil and your arm will feel like it’s dropping off, but don’t be tempted to go faster at any stage because you will regret it!  Add more mustard if you like a stronger flavour (I’m not a big mustard fan), or some chopped herbs like chives or parsley.  This mayo is lovely in a potato salad (add some whole new potatoes to boiling salted water, then simmer for 15-20 mins until cooked but still firm.  Drain, cool, then cut into large cubes and add a couple of tablespoons of mayo.  Mix and serve).  Also nice for coleslaw (shred half a white or red, or mixed, hard cabbage.  Coarsley grate 2 carrots.  Finely grate ½ an onion or use 4-6 spring onions chopped [optional].  Add 2-3 tblsp mayo and mix well.  You can spice it up by adding chilli powder for a change).

Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce     Makes: approx. two 8oz jars     Time: 30 mins approx

Photo of chilli dipping sauce

2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 large (20cm) medium hot red chilli (about 20-25g of chopped, de-seeded chilli depending how hot you want the sauce)
125g (½+1/16 cup) Demerara sugar (or white sugar)
300ml (1+¼ cups) water
2 level teaspoons salt
3 level teaspoons cornflour
½ teaspoons lemon juice

  • Use gloves to handle the chilli if you don’t want your hands on fire!  Remove the seeds and chop the flesh finely (if you want a stronger sauce leave the seeds in).
  • Place the chilli and garlic in a food processor, add the salt and water and process well.
  • Transfer to a small non-stick saucepan, add the sugar and bring to the boil.  Add the lemon juice, stir and leave to simmer on a medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
  • Mix the cornflour with a little water until it becomes a smooth paste.  Add to the sauce, stirring while adding so that it doesn’t go lumpy.
  • Simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring.
  • Pour into jars and seal.

This sauce keeps for weeks in the fridge and also freezes well.

Chinese Honey Sauce for Dipping/Marinade/Stir-fries:     Makes: 1 small portion     Time: 3 mins
Based on a recipe from Theflexcook.com

2 tblsp tamarind paste
2 tblsp runny honey
½ tsp ground cumin
large pinch table salt
½ tsp lime juice (optional)

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  This makes a tasty, but very strong, dark sauce.  Use for dipping, as a marinade or sparingly in stir-fries,

Easy Peasy Rhubarb Jam   Makes: approx. two 8oz jars   Time: overnight, + 20 minutes
(Taken from Allotmentheaven.blogspot.co.uk)

This is the easiest, quickest jam you’re ever likely to make and tastes great.

Photo of Rhubarb jam on toast

2lbs (900g, 9cups) rhubarb, washed, stringy peel removed, and cut into 1″ chunks
1lbs (450g, 2 cups) granulated sugar (if the rhubarb is young use specialist jam sugar with added pectin or it won’t set)
Juice 2 unwaxed lemons
*Sterilized jam jars with lids

      • Place the rhubarb in a large non-stick saucepan, or a jam or stock pot, cover with the sugar and leave overnight.
      • Add the lemon juice, and simmer on a medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved.
      • Bring to the boil and boil for 15 minutes, stirring so that the sugar doesn’t burn and stick.
      • Pour into jars and seal immediately.

If you want to make more jam, just use half the quantity of sugar to rhubarb, eg. for 4 jars use 4lbs rhubarb and 2lb sugar.

*To sterilize jars (I used old jam jars): Wash the jars in hot soapy water, then rinse under a hot running tap. Do not dry. Place the wet jars on a baking sheet and put in the oven at 120C (250F) for 10 minutes. They are then sterile and ready to use.

Carob (‘chocolate’) Sauce     Makes: 2 servings     Time: 2 minutes!

Photo of carob sauce

1 tablespoon carob powder (I couldn’t find any locally so buy an organic bag off Amazon)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons double cream (or water if dairy-free)
½ teaspoon butter (can be omitted if dairy-free)

      • Put all ingredients in a pan over a medium heat and stir until smooth.

This is a surprisingly scummy sauce, which tastes like dark chocolate.  The only problem is it stops being runny when placed on cold ice-cream, but that doesn’t stop me eating it!  For more sauce just double the quantities.

Caramel Sauce     Makes: 2 servings     Time: less than 5 minutes

Photo of caramel sauce

4 tablespoons (60ml) double cream
1 heaped teaspoon (15g) butter
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

      • Place cream in a pan and bring to the boil.
      • Add butter and stir until melted.
      • Reduced heat to low, add sugar and stir until dissolved.

Apple Sauce     Makes: 1 small jar     Time: less than 10 minutes

1 large Bramley cooking apple
1 tablespoon water
1 knob butter (approx. 1 teaspoon)
sugar to taste (approx. 3 teaspoons depending on personal taste and the tartness of the apple)

      • Peel and core the apple and slice into a dish.  Add the water, cover and microwave on high for 4-5 minutes until the apples are soft and a bit fluffy (alternatively simmer in a pan on a hob until the apples are soft).
      • Add the butter and stir until melted.
    • Add sugar by the teaspoon, stir and taste until the sauce is at your desired level of sweetness. Freezes well.

Sweet n Sour Sauce   Makes: 2 servings   Time: 15-20 mins

Photo of sweet & sour sauce

1 mango, peeled and cut into small chunks
30g (1oz, 0.15 cups) dark brown sugar
1 small garlic clove, crushed
2 teaspoons tamarind paste
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
¼ teaspoon ground ginger (or a small chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated)

      • Place the mango, sugar, oil, tamarind paste and garlic in a bowl and whizz with a hand-blender until smooth (or place in a blender and whizz until smooth).
      • Place in a pan, add the chilli and ginger, stir and bring to the boil.
      • Simmer on a medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes until warmed through.

Bechemel Sauce:     Makes: ½ pint

1oz/30g butter
1oz/30g plain flour
½ pint/300ml cold milk
Salt & pepper

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium-low heat.
  • Add the flour, mix well and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, and add a little of the milk.  Stir well until all lumps are gone.  Repeat until all the milk is added.
  • Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add a small amount of pepper, then season very well with salt.
  • Stir and serve.

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