Posted in Cottage life, tagged apples, autumn, foraging, jam, jelly, local, preserving, rosehips, seasonal, slow food, wild good on September 3, 2014|
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There really is no such thing. Even when a friend has kindly given me 3kg of apples, and I have all the jars, vinegar, sugar and raisins to make chutney right here in my cupboards, the actual process of preserving always takes so much longer than I think it will. Even with the aid of my apple master, an ingenious contraption that peels, cores and slices even the tiniest of apples with a few twirls of the handle, I got a bit fed up after 2kg and endless jars of chutney.
So I used some of the remaining apples with rosehips to make a jelly, which meant only rough chopping and no peeling or coring.
Even this took longer than expected, with the picking of the hips, boiling, overnight straining and then boiling again with sugar. As much of a faff as this all is, the resulting jars of chutney, jams and jellies is more than worth it. Just- not quick.
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Posted in Cottage life, Food, tagged foraging, hedgerow, jam, jelly, preserving, raspberry, seasons, summer, wild food on August 20, 2013|
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Last year was our first summer here and I was astonished at the sudden appearance of wild raspberry canes, popping out from brown, dead, snow-crushed nowhere in springtime. We watched as they flowered briefly and then started noticing the red berries as we drove past, resolving to return on foot with a basket or two. I made many sojourns out with Otis on my back and Sol on his balance bike, freezing the handful here and there that we picked. I made jelly with the resulting kilo and a bit, which converted into three precious jars. Last week, my visiting mum and I went out and in one session, picked the same weight as I managed for the whole of last year!
I boiled up the berries immediately this time, strained them overnight in a muslin bag (‘like a bloodied pendulum,’ according to my mother) and made the jelly the next morning. I used jam sugar, but not the one with added pectin, as that resulted in a very firm set previously. I haven’t cracked open a jar, but my mum took one back to my grandmother to enjoy on some of her scones, and am reliably informed of a good set and tasty jelly!
The thing about seasons, and seasonal living, is that you quickly become a creature of habit. Winter brings soups, gathering in logs as quickly as possible for the fire, and the smell of an unhappy clutch as I struggle to emerge from a snowy parking spot; then comes the time for a handful of wild garlic in an omelette; daffodils pop up; the trees start their soft, pure green growth that makes them look fresh and new; elders start blooming and I resolve to make elderflower champagne (scared of the explosions, next year, I promise); and the raspberries, in the same wind and snow-ravaged spot, grow completely unaided by human hand. As Sol and I picked by the roadside, a woman in her seventies pulled up her car and told us of how she had picked these same raspberry bushes with her children. It was a lovely moment: cyclical, seasonal, round and round.
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Ah, the short, but oh-so-sweet season of wild raspberries. Our road is an absolute jungle of them, but they are fiddly little buggers to pick, nestled as they like to be amid nettles and atop huge ditches. And what effort for such teeny berries: sometimes no more than one or two blobs (I’m sure there is a more technical name for raspberry blobs. Any farmer readers able to assist?) of jewel red. Yum. We managed to pick a kilo- I kept meaning to go out and pick more but never quite managed.
I froze them as I went along until there were enough to turn into jelly, as they are really very seedy for jam. I got three very precious jars to savour when the wind is howling and the snow is piling up, to spread on hot toast and think of the summer to come.
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