Monday, 24 July 2017

Time to start putting stuff away seriously

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


  1. I bottled a lot of my soft fruits in vodka last year as they were only ripening a couple a day. In our new house we have lots of apple trees and hopefully a plum, although some of the trees are way past their best. I'll have a plum tree in the future and I'm taking my fig tree with me :D Please post pictures of the canner when you get it, I'm curious.x

  2. I shall be freezing runner beans soon. We have so many - a real bumper crop this year after a poor return last year. The tomatoes are looking good too. I freeze cherry tomatoes whole and pop them into various dishes and sauces. I'm not as productive as you but I do like to make chutneys and, for the first year, we will have apples. I love an apple and onion type chutney. The raisins in rum sound fabulous and I am definitely going to borrow this idea. Eloise

    1. Hi Eloise, more than happy for you to use the raisins in rum or golden sultanas in brandy. All you do is wash the fruit and drain it. Then add it to a sterilised jar and then pour either rum for the raisins or brandy for the sultanas on. If using for Christmas make a month before Christmas minimum in order that the fruit plumps up. Serve as a topping for ice cream or you can actually swirl it into home made ice cream. A naughty version for adults. I also freeze cherry tomatoes and OH has them in a fry up or I pop them into casseroles or use them for making a home made pasta sauce. I like apple and onion based chutneys. Pears make a nice chutney too. I am hoping to get the garden sorted so that I can grow veggies next year so hopefully beans next year. They freeze well and are one of my favourite veggies. Take care. Pattypanxx

  3. I usually make bramble and apple jam and rosehip syrup. I love reading about all the different things you make, they all sound delicious to me love fluffy xx

    1. Hi fluffy; you are still alive then! Had wondered. Bramble and apple jam or jelly is a favourite here. My step daughter used to refer to bramble jelly as bramble delly. Rosehip syrup is another good one and I have a recipe for a Rosehip vinegar I want to try out this year when the rosehips have ripened. They are still green round here. Hope the kidlets are well take care. Pattypanxx

  4. Hi Yarrow, that's the best way to deal with them when you are only getting a few at a time; its either that or freeze them. Some of the trees might come back if you get them properly pruned. My grandparents had orchards and the trees there were at least 40 to 50 years old if not older and were still producing. You can but try. It sounds as though your new home is everything you need it to be and more. So pleased for you. I have two figs which got hit by the frost and all of a sudden I have about 5 baby figs so I am hoping that they will come through okay. I will post some pictures when I buy it and start using it. With you going to France they do a lot of preserving over there so it might well rub off on you. Keep in touch. Pattypan xx


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