Tuesday, 8 September 2009

country kitchen pursuits; wine, jams and chutneys

Here is another strange hobby of mine. Well not one I do much these days my old bones don't take kindly to being asked to stretch for those luscious fruits at the top of bushes and trees.

Sandra and I have always enjoyed foraging / collecting wild fruits for our larder. We always had a supply of jams, chutneys and wine and beers on hand throughout the year. However as we grew older ( some would say wiser), we took to wandering around farm shops and markets for home made goodies to buy.

This year however, My tomato crop has been disatrous, the whole greenhouse had to be emptied because of rampaging blight in the plants. I tried to control it by removing the affected leaves but by the time I gave up the stalks were a very sad site and the fruits were beginning to rot anyway. It has been a ver6y wet year in the UK for the third summer in a row. Maybe that it the reason, or contaminated fertilizer in the "inexpensive" growing bags.

Anyway we decided that this year we would make use of the freebies growing in the wild around our house, being lucky enough to have open countryside within walking distance. yesterday we decided enough was enough. We have collected crab apples, blackberries, elderberries, sloes, plums, damsons. Some have already been turned into jams and jellies:-


the plums will be converted into plum and cinnamon jam later today. (Did I say that Sandra does all the cooking, my job is the difficult to reach fruits and cleaning of them). BTW, the bottles at the back contain sloe gin - steadily maturing away. Great at Christmas.

Some of our crop has been frozen:-


and just a little eaten in pies and crumbles; thankfully no pictures, LOL

We seem to passed on this idea of food/drink for ree as our son, the one still at home, has been making wine, is latest is a batch of oak leaf wine. Just bottled from a crop of new leaves earlier this year. He also has an arty streak - notice the hand-made lables and the dripping wax seal on each bottle:-


What a week, I ache all over but it is so satisfying especially when it comes to eating it. Blackberry jam on my toast this morning ... heaven.

more craftiness soon............


Jan said...

What a wonderful sight!!! Home made jams, chutneys and wine.... can't beat it! Well done John and Sandra !

Artyfax said...

Thanks again Jan, and I forgot to mention the rowanberry jelly made by my son. shouldn't forget that. His next trick is elderberry wine, mmmmmmm!

Pattie said...

Mmmmmmm takes me back to when my hubby and i used to go Blackberry picking and working on the allotment at the back of the garden,freezing all the runners etc..happy days ,I never made jam though lol I love your sons arty labels :-0)

nancy said...

Wowee!! I also love foraging and making things from the produce. I've never even HEARD of oak leaf wine. Am wanting a tried and true chutney recipe. Perhaps you can help?
I've made jams, syrups, and wine, along with vegetable concoctions, but have yet to do a chutney.
My tomatoes are beautiful this year, even though they were late.
Sorry about your greenhouse! What a disappointment.

Veronica said...

I think this whole concept is wonderful. My husband and I used to forage for wild blueberries while hiking. Most of the bushes were heavy with fruit, and we seemed to be the only ones taking them. Then we realized that if they don't appear in the plastic container, most people don't recognize them as food. What a comment on our society, eh?

Agnes the Red said...

Ohhhh yum....what feasts..well done to you both! I've done pretty well with my veg patch this year with lots harvested but have eaten much and shared with family and friends so little has been 'preserved' for later use. I got blight too darn it...not in the greenhouse though...those toms are giving me a bumper crop...but my 'yellows' that were grown in hanging baskets GRRRR what a bind to have to clear out that greenhouse John!