Archive for April, 2011

Marmalade take two

My mother-in-law enjoyed making marmalade last November so much that she has spent much of the summer and autumn on a bit of a preserving kick, making many different types of jam and chutney.

Here is a list of all that she has made:

Kumquat marmalade

Strawberry jam (two batches)

Plum jam

Boysenberry and apple jam (two batches)

Blackberry and apple jam

Orange marmalade (a second batch made with me again)

Grape and raspberry jam

Grape, cherry and cranberry jam

Grape, cherry and strawberry jam

Plum chutney

Peach chutney

Green tomato chutney (FOUR batches!)

Needless to say she now has pantry shelves filled with preserves, even after she has given many jars away.

This long weekend I pulled out all our tomatoes that were left to make room to plant the next crop – garlic.  I’ve now got around 7kg of green tomatoes that she is going to help me make into chutney over the next few days.  I’m also thinking I might pickle a few to try out Milkwood’s pickling recipe.


Olive harvest 2011

Our olive harvest this year was about three times as big as last years!

Olives freshly picked

Aren't they beautiful? If only they tasted as good as they look fresh from the tree!

Pickling in the jars

Once again we used the Milkwood recipe.  We have half a jar left of the 2010 harvest and then we will have to wait at least six months for this lot to be ready.

The tree had gotten so big that it was quite hard to get into it to reach all the olives this year so I gave it a good prune after the harvest.  I haven’t pruned it well for a few years now.  The last time I pruned it back hard a few years back we only got a tiny harvest the next year, so I expect the 2012 harvest won’t be very large.  Hopefully soon the second tree will start producing well (it only managed three olives this year which was its first fruiting) and then we can prune in opposite years so that we have a good sized harvest each year.

Phase II

Today a friend brought us three young lads – a larger Rhode Island red boy, and two smaller Barnevelders.  I killed the RIR but we’ll grow the barnies up for a few weeks.

I spent a couple of hours over the weekend making a killing cone – as the name suggests it’s a cone into which you place the chicken.  It holds them still while you cut their throat, and being upside down, they bleed out faster.

We gave plucking a go, but the skin was quite thin and he had a lot of pin feathers so I ended up skinning him.

As it was my first time (vez primera), I took the legs, breasts and wings off the carcass first, then gutted the carcass to minimise any collateral yukkiness from botched gutting.  Fortunately, it all went well and we have both nice-looking joints and a clean carcass for stock.

Cutting the throat was a little confronting.  I’d had the process described to me, and I’d seen video, but actually doing it is a little different.  I couldn’t feel the pulse for starters, and even when I’d made the cut I wasn’t sure if I’d done it right.  So after maybe 30 seconds I lopped his head off to be sure, and thank Athe there wasn’t a drop of blood left in him. So now I know what a good throat cut looks like!  I’m happy enough to keep doing this so long as I’m doing it right but my fear is botching one and having a distressed, flapping, half-dead bird.  I guess that’s what cleavers are for!

The jointing was the easiest part – just like a shop bought bird, except that as I hadn’t eviscerated him at that point I had to be careful not to let the knife get into the cavity at all.  And also, he was still warm.

I’ll edit this post in the coming week to add pics of the cone and the meat.

<edit 19/4> He was very tasty: slightly more flavour and a much meatier texture than bought chicken.  Any reservations I might have had about killing and eating pets have completely gone!

Winemaking

Friends of the family who own a vineyard recently had such a poor harvest they couldn’t even sell it, so kindly gave us around 30kg of Riesling grapes.  We spent a night (8ish till midnight) whizzing and squeezing the grapes, then pouring the juice, litre at a time, into a borrowed glass carboy.

30 kilos of Riesling grapes

The juicing and squeezing process

Filling up...

Filling up...

Full!

Some of the waste

Ten days later

The colour of the juice has lightened a lot over the last 10 days.  Presumably the juicing process allowed a lot of oxidation, and the subsequent anaerobic fermentation has re-reduced it.  Yay CO2, our fizzy friend.

The smell at the airlock is amazing – smells like the freshly popped cork of a nice, yeasty champagne.

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