Kitchen tasks that can be completed well ahead of Christmas Day - more time to enjoy your time off with friends and family, or to sneak off to hunker down with a good book and sip something delicious.
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is about the easiest thing you can make, just three ingredients (unless you want to get creative) and it takes just 15 minutes. This recipe by The Happie Foodie adds port and cinnamon, but most booze and any of the warm spices work well. Keeps in the fridge for over a week.
Shopping list: cranberries, sugar, juicing oranges (and your favourite additions - port, cinnamon, ginger, chilli).
Tip: Our fresh cranberries come in 340g bags that you can use straight away or freeze for future use.
Waste-not, want-not, homemade stock
Not only is making vegetable stock super easy, it’s a great way of using up spare veg and supercharging your base of festive soups or gravies. This guide by The Kitchn has some great tips on how to balance your flavours.
Shopping list: Onion, carrot, celery, herbs, peppercorns (and your choice of extra spare veg).
Tip: If you, like us, are enjoying Brussels sprouts already - don’t want to waste the stalk, just chop and add to a stock. Stock can be frozen until needed.
Get ahead gravy.
If not life changing then this idea is definitely Christmas day changing for the cook of the house. Make your perfect gravy a few days (or even a few weeks ahead) and take some of the stress out of cooking your extra-special roast. As Jamie Oliver quite rightly advises ‘good gravy has the power to transform, or even save, a meal’.
Shopping list: Onion, carrot, Celery, bacon, bay, sage, rosemary, star anise, chicken wings, short, flour, cranberry sauce.
Tip: Our herbs come in 100g bunches (so much more cost effective than the 10g supermarket bags), use what you don’t need straight away to make flavoured butters to perk up mid week meals, or dry upside down in a warm dry room.
Prepare this in advance and all you need to do to get your Christmas Eve party started is to slice some rye bread, pop a few corks and bask in the admiration of your handywork. This recipe by Nordic Kitchen Stories calls for fresh horseradish, beetroots and aquavit (or vodka). Will keep in the fridge for two weeks.
Shopping list: Salmon, beetroots, salt, sugar, aquavit or vodka, dill, horseradish, lemon.
Tip: Order extra horseradish root to make fresh horseradish sauce for New Year's Day beef joints.
Hot Mustard Pickle/Piccalili
Boxing day’s cold cuts and cheese call for pickles, the beauty of making this pickle is that you can make it from almost any vegetables you like just add vinegar, mustard and turmeric to create this golden relish. Here is a recipe by Gordon Ramsay for inspiration. Can be stored for up to 6 months.
Shopping list: Cauliflower, onions, cucumbers, white wine, malt vinegar, chilli flakes, turmeric, mustard powder, cornflour.
Tip: Make extra pickles, decant to kilner jars and add blank gift tags for last minute gifts.
Impress your guests and make some incredibly fragranced cocktails, the ‘hard’ work is done weeks before you pour.
Mandarin's sweet citrusy aroma and taste are perfectly captured by preserving in alcohol. Infuse some best quality vodka with mandarin peel a few weeks before Christmas and make simple cocktails that taste otherworldly.
To infuse your vodka
Peel 4 mandarins, try to leave the pith behind, add to a 1/2 full bottle of vodka (or sterilised kilner jar). Leave for 2-3 weeks. Strain and enjoy.
Shopping list: Vodka, mandarins.
Tip: Wondering what to make with your mandarin vodka? Get creative but for two of simplest that showcase your ‘hard’ work try making:
Mandarin Cocktail Recipe
Mandarin Martinis - Shake your 60ml of vodka and add a splash of dry vermouth over ice, strain into a chilled glass and garnish with silver of mandarin peel.
Mandarin Vodka Tonic - Add 50ml of vodka to a glass of ice, top with tonic, garnish with mandarin peel.