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How to Cook Your Own Christmas Gifts

Updated on December 11, 2015
A festive, Christmassy chutney
A festive, Christmassy chutney | Source

How To Cook Christmas Gifts Yourself

Christmas can be so expensive but you can cook your own luxurious Christmas gifts yourself. Home made Christmas gifts are lovely - they capture the real spirit of Christmas and are so personal. If you combine that with the traditional way of showing love - through the provision of food, you have real Christmas winner here.

Start planning your Christmas gifts in autumn and use that glut of fruit and vegetables to make beautiful and thoughtful Christmas presents for your loved ones.

Everyone likes to think that someone has put time and effort into making a unique and special gift and what could be better than these rich and spicy sweet and savoury preserves, liqueurs and cakes? This is how to cook your very own Christmas gifts - it's so easy.

In S W France, we have so much fruit during the summer and autumn that we are trampling apples, plums, grapes and peaches under foot. What a waste! Why not make all this wonderful fruit into delightful, economical and delicious gifts for Christmas?

Ingredients for Peach and Apple Chutney
Ingredients for Peach and Apple Chutney | Source

Peach and Apple Chutney

Illustrated above

In September our orchards are full of peaches and apples: there's only so much that you want to eat as fruit, so why not try making it into chutney? This is the most wonderful, rich and spicy savoury preserve and is perfect for Christmas. It tastes of Christmas pudding (really). Serve with turkey or goose, cheese and cold meats. Delicous.

See the full step-by-step recipe here

My marrow and ginger jam
My marrow and ginger jam | Source

Marrow and Ginger Jam

A wonderfully warming and unusual preserve

If you grow courgettes you'll know how quickly they turn into marrows! It always seems as if today there is nothing to pick, or vegetables the size of your thumb, then within the next day or two these tiny courgettes have metamorphosed into colossal giants.

You can of course bake the marrows, or stuff them, but have you thought of making them into jam? Add ginger to this and you have a real winter warmer!

See the full step-by-step recipe here

More Christmas cooking ideas in a Christmas Recipe book on Amazon.com:

Christmas Recipes For Fabulous Feasts - Ideas for home-cooked gifts

This is a wonderful, Christmassy-looking Christmas recipe book. It will give you so many ideas for your Christmas celebration feasts and would make a super Christmas gift.

Sloes for Sloe and Apple Jelly
Sloes for Sloe and Apple Jelly | Source

Sloe and Apple Jelly

Sloes and wild damsons are free!

In the autumn the hedgerows in France are full of tiny, hard black fruits that are bitter and seemingly inedible but you can make them into a very tasty jelly just perfect for Christmas celebrations.

Ingredients

- 2lb / 1 kg sloes

- 4lb / 2 kg cooking apples

- 1 lemon

- 1 lb sugar to each pint of sloe juice

Method

- Frost helps to soften sloes but if they have been picked before the frosts, prick them with a fork

- Put the fruit in the pan with the lemon juice and peel. Cover with water and simmer until pulpy

- Wash and chop the apples. Put into a separate pan and cover with water and simmer until soft

- Strain the two fruit pulps and measur the juice.

- Bring the juice to the boil and add the sugar (1lb for each pint of juice)

- Stir until dissolved.

- Boil to the setting point

Sloe Gin
Sloe Gin | Source

Sloe Gin

More than a little Christmas Spirit!

Ingredients

- Sloes

- Sugar

- Gin

- Cloves (optional)

- Cinnamon stick (optional)

- Almond essence (optional)

Method

- Prick the berries and put into a wide-necked jar until full. Add the sugar, cloves, almond essence and cinnamon. Cover with gin.

- Seal the jar, store in a cool, dark place and turn it daily. Wait for three months minimum and your liqueur is ready.

Medlar jam
Medlar jam | Source

Medlar Jam

A very seasonal and unusual fruit

Medlars used to be popular in Victorian times but have since fallen out of fashion. This is a great shame as medlar trees are small, pretty trees with a rather 'Japanese' habit. They have beautiful, creamy white flowers in spring and attractive brownish fruits in autumn. These fruits are picked in November when they are soft. They have the texture and taste of stewed apples and they make a very unusual jam.

See the full step-by-step recipe How to make Medlar Jam

Christmas cake served with Stilton cheese
Christmas cake served with Stilton cheese | Source

Traditional English Christmas Cake Recipe

Start early for best results!

Make your Christmas cake early, feed it with brandy regularly and on Christmas day you'll have a rich, moist cake to serve to all your family and visitors. In England this cake is tradtionally served with cheese such as Red Leicester or Stilton and rice cake.

See the full step-by-step recipe here

For this recipe you will need to line your cake tin: How to Line a Cake Tin

Source

Pear and cloves recipe

Cloves give this jam a very seasonal flavour

This is a wonderfully fragrant, unusual and seasonal jam. To make it you will need:

Ingredients

1lb firm pears peeled and cored

1 lb sugar (I use a little less)

4 cloves per pound of fruit

Method

- Cut the pears into slices or cubes

- Sprinkle over the sugar

- Tie the cores and peelings in a muslin bag and place this in with the pears and sugar

- Leave overnight

- Put into a jam pam and simmer gently, stirring all the time, until the sugar has dissolved

- Add cloves

- Boil steadily until the fruit is transparent and the syrup has set

- Remove cores and peel and put into jars.

Source

Grape Jelly

At Les Trois Chenes we have lots of grape vines and the grapes are delicious but have rather large pips, so I use them to make grape jelly. Here's how:

Ingredients

- 3 lbs ripe grapes

- 1/4 pint water

- 3 tablespoons lemon juice

- 3 1/4 lb sugar

- 1 bottle commercial pectin

Method

- Crush the fruit and put into a pan with water and bring to the boil

- Cover and simmer for ten minutes

- Put the fruit into a jelly bag or muslin cloth and leave to drain

- Put the sugar and juice and 1 1/4 pints of grape juice into a jam pan, heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved stirring occasionally

- Bring to the boil and stir in the pectin. Boil rapidly for half a minute and remove from heat

- Skim off any foam with a jam skimmer

- Put into jars

Source

Peach jam

When we had goats at Les Trois Chenes we used to feed them all the surplus soft and damaged peaches, but the goats, sadly, had to go and now we are trampling the peaches under foot. We gather as many as we can and cut them into halves, remove the stones and put into the freezer. During the winter when the wood burning stove is on, we make this gorgeous jam.

See the full step-by-step recipe here

Source

© 2011 Barbara Walton

Any edible Christmas gift ideas? Do leave a message

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    • profile image

      masunyoananda 4 years ago

      Very interesting lens. Bookmarked and Blessed...:)

    • GeekGirl1 profile image

      GeekGirl1 4 years ago

      Great lens! Your page is simply appetizing. I love chutney's and am glad i have some new recipes to try out. Thanks again..

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have not heard of medlars and sloes before. Love to taste some of those.

    • BLouw profile image
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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @imolaK: Many thanks, imolaK, for your blessing and kind words.

    • imolaK profile image

      imolaK 5 years ago

      This is a unique idea. Thank you for sharing this lens with us. Blessed!

    • BLouw profile image
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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @Virginia Allain: Thanks so much, Virginia. Sugared pecans and walnuts sound wonderful. One of my biggest regrets here in France is that I didn't plant walnut trees the day we arrived. They'd be nearly 10 now and fruiting.

    • BLouw profile image
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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @JohnMichael2: Thank you for leaving a message John. Do hope you give them a try.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      What a beautiful page and delightful gifts to make with fruit. My parents used to make sugared pecans and walnuts using their own nut trees. I always loved getting those.

      Blessed by a squid angel.

    • JohnMichael2 profile image

      JohnMichael2 5 years ago

      very interesting presentation of some great recipes - they're on the list to try...

    • BLouw profile image
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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @anonymous: Thank you so much for taking the trouble to leave a message, Victoria. Nice to meet you here.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      A lovely lens - I'll have to make some of my own jam soon.

    • BLouw profile image
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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @ErHawkns7100: I think man people would appreciate that time and care have been taken as well as money spent, ErHawkns7100. Thanks for dropping by.

    • BLouw profile image
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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @fionajean: These fruit chutneys are really lovely, Fiona, and it's nice to bring a taste of summer to the table in the depths of winter.

    • SaintFrantic profile image

      SaintFrantic 5 years ago

      Very warm Lens.Nice ideas and picture.Thanks

    • BLouw profile image
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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @SaintFrantic: Many thanks for your kind comments Ivan.

    • BLouw profile image
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      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @TonyPayne: Thanks, Tony, it is rather wonderful here and I hate to see all that gorgeous, free food going to waste.

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      @SilmarwenLinwelin: Thanks for your visit, SilmarwenLinwelin, and for taking the time to leave a comment.

    • profile image

      ErHawkns7100 5 years ago

      Cheaper to make Christmas presents and more appreciated too!

    • fionajean profile image

      Fiona 5 years ago from South Africa

      The pear and apple chutney sounds great

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      It sounds like a rather ideallic lifestyle, rural France, harvesting your own fruit and vegetables, cooking and preserving them, wonderful smells and flavours. Yet another lovely lens by you, blessed.

    • SilmarwenLinwelin profile image

      SilmarwenLinwelin 5 years ago

      Great lens! Very well done!

    • profile image

      debsgreatfinds 6 years ago

      @BLouw: Thanks for getting back with me have a nice day today :)

    • BLouw profile image
      Author

      Barbara Walton 6 years ago from France

      @poutine: Thanks so much, poutine, for taking the time to leave a message. I'm working on my photography skills but they are getting a bit samey. Must branch out a bit.

    • BLouw profile image
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      Barbara Walton 6 years ago from France

      @debsgreatfinds: Hi Debbie, great w/e thanks. Sun shining in Limousin. Don't know what variety the grapes are! They were all here when we bought the house. We have (at least) two sorts. One is black and sweet, the other a paler red but very perfumed. Neither great to eat though, because of the pips.

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      Great content and beautiful photos.

    • profile image

      debsgreatfinds 6 years ago

      Hello hope your weekend was nice I have a ? what are the purple grapes called my hubby loved to eat them when my mom has them growing? now he wants to grow them in are yard but what are they called?