Posts Tagged ‘preserves’

Winter

It is really cold here today and I am feeling miserable and hating winter, so I thought rather than just sit here with cold feet lamenting that none of the chickens are laying, I would make a list of things I actually like about winter.  Power of positive thinking and all that…

1. Winter is perfect knitting weather.

2. I love the way the house smells when I have a load of woolen washing drying inside over the air vents.

3. I can wear my hair out (it hangs about half way down my back) without my neck feeling sticky and hot.

4. Scarves and hats are fun.

4. And big coats.

5. Mulled wine…. mmmm…

6. Hot chocolate with marshmallows.

7. Baking so you can hang out next the oven.  (When we had one)

8. Reading curled up under a blanket.

9. Oranges are in season and cheap.

10. Sunny morning bike rides around the lake when everything is still covered in frost.

11. The cats seem to like me (or possibly just my warm lap) a lot more when it is cold.

12. I don’t have to worry (as much) about snakes when I take the toddler for a walk.

13. Sitting around a fire with friends.

14. Winter stews and soups cooked in the slow-cooker.

15. The roosters only start crowing around 6.30.

16. Preserves made in the Autumn are ready to eat.

17. The shortest day comes so early in the season.  (I’ve added this to the list because it means even when it gets colder you can still say “it’s all good, the shortest day has been so we are on the way back to spring”.)

18. Frosty but sunny mornings are really pretty.

19. Flannelette sheets, flannelette pyjamas, wool blankets and a wool quilt.

20. Jumping in the car and turning the heat up high on my feet.

A round number, that seems like a good place to stop!

Feel free to add other things you can think of…

In the meantime, here is an enormous picture of some sunflowers from last summer to remind us that spring will come back.

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.

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.

Autumn equinox harvest

The garden has done really well considering how late I got all the vegetables in.

The tomatoes have really come out this year – I estimate I’ve picked about 8-10kg total so far, and there must be at least another 2kg still ripening 0n the vine.

Tomato glut

Tomato glut 2

We’ve had so many over the last few weeks.  It has been lovely being able to pick them fresh for lunch and dinner each day, and still we have so many left over I’ve been able to start preserving them to eat later in the year.

Some of the tomatoes

Laying the tomatoes out to dry

Drying the tomatoes

Sundried tomatoes

Not technically sun dried – I used a friend’s dehydrator – but just as delicious!

We’ve also had beans and corn, though not nearly as much as I would have liked!

Corn harvest

Corn and beans for dinner

Tomatoes and beans

The sunflowers have finished blooming and are the heads are drying out so we can collect their seeds.

Drying out sunflower heads

Sunflower seeds

The new raised bed and the new herb bed are coming along nicely.

The raised bed is finally thriving

New herb bed seedlings (and don't the chickens look great in the background!)

And I’ve got the winter harvest seedlings under way.

Winter seedlings (and an avocado that started growing in the compost, not that I'm expecting it to survive the winter in this climate!)

We have two laying chickens now – Henrietta and Adelaide – and are getting about three eggs every two days from the pair of them.

First eggs meal!

I’ve also been doing a bit of wild foraging with two very good friends.  We’ve been blackberrying twice – I would never have believed how much better freshly picked blackberries taste.  Blackberries are a terribly invasive weed here and the free and tasty fruit is the only redeeming feature.   I used some of them to make a blackberry sauce.

Boiling up wild blackberry sauce

It was very, very good over ice cream!

Blackberry Sauce + chocolate icecream = black forest goodness

So all in all it’s been a rather delicious, though busy, few weeks.  We’ve also been busy building a (hopefully reasonably soundproof) rooster box for the chickens to sleep in – Red is right on the verge of crowing, so we are rushing to get it done before he annoys the neighbours.  Pictures to follow when I get my act together and remember to photograph it.

Olives

We have an amazing olive tree that has given us a massive crop pretty much every year since we’ve been here. We estimate it to be at least 10-15 years old, but if it was planted when the house was built it could be up to 30 years old.  We planted a secondary olive tree when we first bought this place and this spring has been the first time it has flowered!  So next year we should have both trees giving us fruit.

The main olive tree on the left with our new little tree on the right.

The only year the main tree gave us a smallish crop was after we pruned it heavily the previous harvest.  Every other year it has given us at least a plastic shopping bag full of olives.

About 2/3 of the crop post pickling.

This, however, has been the first year we have successfully managed to pickle the olives, mainly due to the discovery of Milkwood‘s fabulous how to pickle olives video.

This year's crop, desalted and ready for eating.

Next year’s crop also looks like it is shaping up to be a good harvest.

Olive flowers

Next year's crop - tiny olives

I can’t wait to see what the new tree’s fruit is like.  Yum!

Making marmalade with the mother-in-law

I wish I could say these were our own oranges but we have not yet managed to successfully grow citrus.  We planted a lemon tree when we first moved in, but it died within a year.  We then inherited a kumquat tree in a pot when some friends moved interstate and this tree is doing well enough, but it has only ever produced two kumquats (both of which went into this marmalade!)

These oranges came from the neighbour of a friend.  While we were over at my friend’s place and our toddlers were playing in the yard, her neighbour stuck his head over the fence and offered us each a bag full of oranges since he had far too much off his trees.  We happily accepted and the toddlers had oranges for morning tea.  After we took ours home, we ate a few, but then the toddler decided she didn’t like oranges any more and at any rate we weren’t likely to get through that many so I decided to make marmalade out of them rather than let them go to waste.

Having never made marmalade before I drafted in the mother-in-law who a) makes marmalade reasonably frequently and is therefore something of an expert, and b) is an extra pair of hands and eyes for keeping the toddler occupied and out of the kitchen containing the boiling sugar!  In consultation with our trusty copies of Delia, we set to work this morning…  I don’t have photos of every stage because we had our hands full (and sticky) with the marmalade (and the toddler).

The marmalade consists of 2.9 kg oranges (plus 2 kumquats), 3 lemons, 6 kg sugar and 9 L water.

Softening the peel. We used an old tea towel as a bag for the pips.

Boiling with the sugar added.

After five hours we had sixteen and a half jars of homemade marmalade!  Enough to last us quite a while.  It really is satisfying to see them all lined up.

Sixteen and a half jars

Mmmmm

(And it is really delicious)

Darling Delia, from whence all good food comes.

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