Recipes for delicious, home-made Christmas presents

Posted · Add Comment

These recipes require various sizes of Kilner-type storage jars

Home-made Preserved Lemons

This will make enough lemons to fill a 500ml kilner jar.

  • 10 un-waxed lemons
  • 250g of basic sea salt
  • 5 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsps of coriander seed

Squeeze the juice from 4 of the lemons and keep aside. Quarter 5 of the lemons from the top until ½ to ¼ inch from the bottom. Rub salt into the exposed flesh and reform the fruit. Put a tablespoon of salt into a sterilised 500ml Kilner jar. Pack the lemons in with the spices and more salt, pushing down quite hard until the jar is nearly full. It should take four or five. Top up with the lemon juice, and add the juice of the remaining lemon if necessary to cover the lemons. Close the jar and add your festive ribbon. Keep the jar in a cupboard, and the lemons will be ready to eat in about a month, so get to it right away if you want them ready for Christmas.

Compote of Winter Fruits in a jar

Baased on the recipe in Alastair Little’s superb book Keep it Simple, a jar of fruit compote makes a lovely Christmas gift. It can be served with plain yoghurt, crème fraiche, ice cream or some cake. Alastair Little suggests an olive oil and Sauternes cake.  The recipe should produce enough compote for two 500ml Kilner Jars

  • 1 lemon
  • 500ml red wine
  • 450g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 piece dried tangerine peel (optional, from oriental stores)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 8 star anise
  • 1 Lapsang teabag
  • 2 heaped tbsps of sugar
  • 12 prunes
  • 8 dried apricots
  • 4 small firm pears

Scrape the zest off the lemon with a potato peeler. Put the wine, caster sugar, vanilla, bay, tangerine peel and spices into a large non reactive saucepan and bring to the boil skimming off any froth that comes to the surface. Simmer for 30 minutes and set aside to cool. Add the lemon zest. At the same time make about a pint (575ml) of weak lapsang with the teabag in a heatproof bowl. Add the two tbsps of sugar to the tea, which will prevent the natural sugars in the prunes and apricots from leaching out when they are soaked in the tea. Add the prunes and apricots to the sweet tea, and put over a low heat for 10 mins. Then set aside and let the fruit plump up. Peel the pears, holding them by the stalk and rubbing the surfaces with the cut side of the lemon to prevent discolouration. Bring the wine syrup back to the boil add the pears and simmer gently for 30 mins. To keep the pears beneath the surface you can use a small plate or the lid from a smaller pan to keep them down. After 30 mins remove from the heat. Drain the prunes and apricots and discard the tea. Remove the lid or plate from the syrup, it will be very sticky, and add the prunes and apricots. Replace the lid and allow to cool. Divide the compote between your two jars. You can discard the spices at this stage or leave them in as you like. Seal the jars and put in the fridge where the compote should keep happily for a month or so. All they need now is your festive ribbon and label.

Some jars of Pork Rillettes

A very simple recipe for a fatty but delicious Christmas present. There are endless recipes for this traditional dish, but this is my version, based on much reading and some trial and error.  You will need about a kilo of skinless boneless fatty pork belly to fill about three 350ml Kilner jars. The rillettes will keep in their jars for at least a couple of weeks. NB, you should not make any gift rillettes until after 20 December

  • 1kg skinless, boneless, fatty pork belly
  • 1 tblsp salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tsp mace
  • 4-5 crushed juniper berries
  • 250ml water

The pork is better in one piece, but you can use strips, try and choose the fatty ones. Just stand them fat side up and pressed together in your roasting tin or casserole dish

Rub the  salt over the pork, and place in a roasting tin. Drop in the bay leaves, sprigs of thyme, whole garlic cloves, sprinkle over the mace and crushed juniper berries and pour over 250ml of water. Cover, then leave in the oven at 160C/gas mark 1 for 3 hours or until the pork is tender, checking a couple of times to make sure it is not drying out or cooking too fast. Lift the meat from its juices then tear into very fine shreds with a couple of forks. Pack tightly into your sterilised Kilner jars. Pour some of the liquid in the roasting tin through a sieve over the rillettes and mix lightly, and pour some more liquid onto the top to make a seal. Leave to cool, then refrigerate until the fat has set. Add Christmas ribbon and your fatty chappy gift is good to go.

For a selection of Kilner jars, visit,,