a busy domestic blog of knitting, sewing and all kinds of needlecrafts, cooking my garden produce and preserving it

Friday, 30 September 2016

Friday Flowers

 Summery flowers cut for indoors - sweet peas, nasturtiums, montbretia

while autumnal michaelmas daisies are coming into flower, and keeping the bees happy,

and it's time to cut and dry the sunflower heads
with their wonderful geometric pattern 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

How did we manage without freezers?

An allotment trip last week saw me bringing home bags and tubs filled with a variety of fruit and veg - tomatoes, runner beans, corn on the cob, peppers, beetroot, apples, raspberries, and rhubarb.

It's all good stuff, hopefully helping us eating a healthy, varied diet, and probably costs less than buying the same vegetables from a supermarket, BUT anyone with a vegetable patch, even the smallest, will know how crops always seem to arrive in a rush - one day nothing is ready to pick, the next there's a glut!

Most of our home grown crops won't be eaten fresh, so
having grown and picked it, now comes the dreaded task of preserving it somehow.

Some veg comes in handy ready-to-store packaging - one of the reasons I love pumpkins is because they store over winter with no effort; onions only have to be hung up somewhere dry and frost free; beetroot, carrots and apples will be fine in a cardboard box for a while.

There are still tricky things though - runner beans, peas, corn, any and every kind of soft fruit.
I know there are lots of clever ways involving salt, sugar and vinegar to save produce, and have something to eat in a few months time. I could make cordials, jam, chutney, passata, pickles, marmalade, fruit leather ... the list seems almost endless. But really most of that should be done within a day or so of picking, and I feel too busy at the moment to start making whatever.

Thank goodness for the freezer!

Seriously, how did people manage without one?
By late autumn my freezer will be full of home-grown fruit and veg, all stored with very little effort.
I'm definitely a lazy cook, and the quicker and easier I can get vegetables into the freezer, the better.
So, I love fruit which is just washed and drained, or tomatoes which are wiped clean, maybe chopped, then bagged and frozen, but I'm not so fond of runner beans which need preparing and blanching first!

Even so, it has to be SO much better than standing over a hot stove, stirring hot bubbling jam or chutney.
Sometime over winter, on a cold, wet day, I'll get the raspberries from the freezer and make jam, or tomatoes and prepare passata, and it's like the return of summer.

But for now, everything surplus to dinner is going in the freezer!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Bread and Butter pickle

I first experimented with bread and butter pickle a couple of years ago, when I had a glut of cucumber from the allotment, then last year I had a surplus of courgettes and tried using them as the main ingredient. Both worked well,though I think maybe the courgettes lasted longer without going soggy. 

waiting for salt to draw out the moisture

This year though I don't have either crop in sufficient quantities to make pickles, but I so loved them to liven up winter lunch-time sandwiches that I bought a net of cheap 'odd shapes' courgettes specifically. 
These really are the simplest pickles to make - draw out moisture with salt, drain, cover with hot spiced vinegar, then stand for a couple of weeks.
So easy!

sugar, mustard, turmeric + half a chilli
 to spice up the vinegar