This cold wet weather just reinforces to me how much food we should be squirrelling away on our pantry shelves or cupboard or store whatever is available to you at this point in time. It also makes me keen to get the last remaining expensive piece of equipment for my preserving cupboard and that is a canner. My thinking is that if I can spend time putting useful items of food up on the pantry shelf like soups, canned meat and fish etc. It will save me more time during the week with cooking but also not losing that home cooked element. Preparing my own convenience foods as it were.
I am slowly attending to pasta sauce each week buying vine tomatoes until and when my own crop of tomatoes are ready so that is well in hand. I also want to put some tomatoes up in brine as well as make Salsa as well as Tomato juice to use in Bloody Mary's and tomato ketchup but I do need the canner for that. However to go with the Bloody Mary's I need chilli vodka.
So far I have had four cucumbers off my little cucumber plant. However I always pickle cucumber so my four small cucumbers may get turned into a pot of pickle.
We are slowly very slowly slipping imperceptibly into the autumn months. The blackberries and elderberries are starting to show and soon the Victoria plums will be ready - I have already seen greengages in the supermarkets so the plum season is nearly upon us.
Thoughts of plum jelly, plum chutney, Hoisin sauce, Chinese stir fry sauce plum jam and its variants with other fruits, plum Vodka, plum cordial, plum wine are all good hearty preserves to keep on the pantry shelf. There is also of course the option of bottling the fruits in syrup to pop into a pie or crumble. I still remember my Nan's plum pie where the whole plums used to stand proud of the pastry so you would see the outline of the plum through the pastry and it would look all nobbly.
It also brings to mind the rhyme, little Jack Horner sat in his corner eating his Christmas pie he put in his thumb and pulled out a plum and said what a good boy am I.
So the plum like the apple is a pretty versatile fruit. If you do a couple of bottles of plums in syrup then they can be transformed into the old fashioned sugar plums just before Christmas by drying in the oven and coated with lots of sugar. I assume that you would be able to do this with a dehydrator also. I think I have posted a recipe on how to do these further back on the blog.
My grandparents had plum trees the majority of which were Victoria plums. The other variety they had was a jet black plum with lovely golden flesh which my Grandfather referred to as Black Diamond. There was also one solitary golden gage tree which never produced fruit in all the time Nan had it but the year in which she passed it produced a magnificent harvest.
I also want to get some fruits set in spirit and in particular I am thinking of apricots/peaches in amaretto or an apricot/peach and amaretto jam. I made some of this the other year and it was nice but I think I put too much amaretto in so please do not be tempted to put in more than is necessary. Plain Apricot jam/conserve is also delightful with croissants in a morning but I always make it as I use it sieved on my Christmas cake to hold the marzipan down and then there is Apricot chutney one made with fresh and other with dried. I also want to have a go at drying my own Apricots.
I have pears to put down in syrup but also to make chocolate and pear jam. I have posted the recipe previously for this. The Co-op round the corner from where I live have changed their cooking chocolate from a very decent quality to one that is passable but I wanted a good bitter chocolate for this recipe and I managed to get this yesterday when I went to Mr Ts. I also aim to make some pear and ginger.
I also need to make my annual batch of piccalilli otherwise OH will never forgive me.
In the next few weeks I hope to take advantage of the blackberry and elderberry crops and put up elderberry jelly, bramble jelly, pontack sauce, elderberry wine and to try a blackberry and elderberry cordial and of course for colds there is always Elderberry Rob.
I am also hoping to dry some of my own fruits for using in my Christmas cakes later on in the year. Red and Green grapes are readily available at the moment and I also fancy having a go at making my own grape wine using the foot pounding method. It will create a laugh if nothing else.
I also have some apples to turn into apple sauce, bottled apples, apple chutney and hopefully some apple juice and cider and maybe some perry as well.
I am also hoping to locate sloes for sloe gin, wild bullace plums and damsons. I have a recipe for wild plum sweetmeats which essentially is a paste like membrillo. I also want to make some wild blackberry gin as well.
So there is a lot to do over the coming weeks/months.
Is there anything that you are going to put up, are you a beginner are you going to dip your toe in the water or are you an experienced preserver. Would be lovely to hear what you are going to squirrel away for future use during the winter months. Years ago it was really necessary to do this as you only survived the winter months if you had a good store of things in your pantry and kept the wolf from the door. These days I think preserving still has its place as it gives you so many more options of things to make and new tastes to experience.
Would love to hear from you.
Catch you soon.
I already know where there are some crab apples. Crab apple jelly is a staple in this household as we use it with Roast pork and other cold meats. I make it plain and spiced.
The rosehips are starting to form and I have my eye on them also. They are still green at the moment but I have recipes for a vinegar, rosehip syrup, a marmalade, a rosehip wine recipe, to dry them whole for using in wine and also to deseed them to make my own vitamin c powder for adding to milk shakes, and granola to make sure that I keep the colds as much at bay as I can during the winter months.
Later on of course I will prepare a few bottles of raisins in rum and yellow sultanas in brandy as well as nuts in honey for use on ice creams, and with soft cheeses like a goats cheese or brie