Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Summer Preserves

From what I hear on the Radio, we are being urged to use and enjoy local produce, not waste food, and be more community spirited.....well I have managed to to marry all these ideals almost at the same time:

In days gone by, when I grew loads of veggies, an important part of summer crops was finding outlets, and I enjoyed sharing produce with non gardeners. Then, I did not really have the time to make jams and chutneys as well. Now I am privileged to be on the receiving end, and am really grateful to receive phone calls which say ...please come and pick ....we have too much to use. I now have more time to use the produce, and enjoy giving some of the finished goods back to friends.

So a short cycle away usually less than a couple of miles, no carbon miles, I've picked red currants of which there is a bumper crop this year, and blackcurrants from friends gardens or allotments.
From way back I have a couple of paper backs which always come up trumps for ideas. Jane Griegson is excellent for many ways to use fruit, and my old Cordon Bleu book, although pages are now loose, is a mainstay, as well as a very old Good House Keeping Cookery Book.
The redcurrants were cooked stalks and all, and made an excellent jelly, but the blackcurrants had to be cleaned, sorted through and destalked. However now with a foot nearly out of action, and having to be rested, it is amazing what one can do on a tray on ones lap. I now realise that I spend most of my days on my feet, so instead I have been doing loads more knitting and embroidery.

I've even been invited to give lessons in making preserves. So maybe I shall be given some preserves in the future.
I've sent out SOS for jam jars, and have received some lovely shaped jars. I clean and sterilise and reuse the lids too! If it looks as if the lids have been used a couple of times, I revert to the wax disc and cellophane!

One of the perks of my volunteering at the Castle is that I am able to pick some of the superb mini strawberries which edge up some of the beds. The jam is just supberb, and is being saved for right royal occassions!

I just had to come up with a posh name for my posh strawberry jam, and being a french speaker, came up with Fraises Du Chateau Confiture. This pot is ready to give to Jean who bought me these lovely little pot covers. I've used preserving sugar with added pectin for the strawberries, to be sure to get a good set, but for the blackcurrant and other similar jams I use Tate & Lyle and find cane sugar better than beet.

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