Raspberry Jam & First Early Epicure Spuds

So it seems that all the soft fruit has decided to pick this week as the week to ripen. A glut of raspberries has meant jam making was to be again, no sooner than the jam pan had cooled down from the strawberry jam yesterday. Raspberries are my personal favourite – a depth of flavour that for me beat anything else hands down (except for, maybe, a really rip and juicy plum).

We’re also trying something different, in that this time Suz also used fruit sugar instead of normal sugar – again, adding pectin separately. This’ll give the jam a higher GI than normal, so better for controlling sugar rushes (useful for the diabetic).

On another side  of the patch, the 20ft row of Epicure first earlies was dug up. They’re a rather pale, slightly nobbly potato – but delicious! The crop wasn’t huge, and I’m not sure if that’s because they’re first earlies (first time we’ve grown them), or whether the lack of rain has really affected them, which I suspect to be the reason.

Strawberry Jam (and a tomato)

Okay – so the two punnets of strawberries we’d acquired to date became 6 punnets today. Faced with a glut of strawberries, and only so many strawberries a person can chow down, the decision to make ready the jam pan was made. The recipe used was as follows:

Strawberries with pectin enhanced sugar.
(Makes 3-4 jars, 455g – 1 lb) – (Type of Set: medium)

  1. Fresh strawberries: 800g / 1¾ lb
  2. Jam sugar: 1kg / 2 lb
  3. Water: none
  4. Knob of butter

Preparation
Clean jars in a bowl of hot water to which has been added a small drop of washing up liquid, rinse under a running tap. Leave to stand on some clean kitchen paper towel, tops down.
Set oven to its lowest setting, place jars, right way up onto oven tray and place on middle shelf.
Hull and wash strawberries, place in pan, using potato masher or liquidiser crush fruit into a pulp. Heat slowly, and pour in sugar, stirring continuously until dissolved. Add knob of butter still stirring, increase heat and bring to a rolling boil. Now start timing, do not boil longer that the time recommended, usually four minutes. Skim off scum with slotted spoon.
Allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes to prevent fruit rising. Pot, cover and label.

Jaime our friend happened to be staying over and helped Suz with the washing up of the jam spoons – how kind.

On a totally different topic – we’ve got our first tomato. Hurrah! We shall feast this night.

Out With the Old, In With the New

Today was the day I plucked up the courage to empty the garage of the over-wintered veg. Not a job I particularly wanted to do, but seeing as though a new chest freezer was imminent, I felt it needed a bit of a clean in the garage before anything went in there. The onions had pretty much all had it, except for these shallots and garlic. I’m glad we’ve decided to plant more shallots this year, as they really do seem better for storing, and make cracking pickled onions! The old potatoes and parsnips also went to the brown bin – I wasn’t too sure about composting the parsnips, and I never compost potatoes incase they decide to take over the compost bin!

Another punnet of strawberries found its way into the fridge, and we’re starting the raspberries as well – my favourite combination 🙂

The first snap peas (mangetout) are also being pulled from the patch. So many in fact, that we’ll need to start freezing them!

Meanwhile, outside in the greenhouses – yes, the second one is now complete, the cucumbers are doing well, and annoying the poor rabbits that have to stare at them through the glass all day! The tomatoes are also doing well – the Shirleys better than the beef tomatoes, and I still need to add some sort of shade screen to the greenhouse before any more leaves turn white with the heat. The aubergines are also starting to look healthy and leafy – I have no idea when/if we’ll see any, but I have faith.

Strawberries!

At last 😀 We keep hearing about how great the strawberry season is this year, but ours were still little white berries…until today! Jay is seen here clutching the first punnet of strawberries – well, what’s left of the first punnet after some ‘quality testing’ had been carried out. Then there’s the little strawberry with dumpy legs and rather natty green hat…

More Planting & The Mystery Poo

As the weather continues to play nicely, we took the opportunity and spent a family day down the patch. Jay helped plant the courgettes and butternut squash out, whilst Smiler ran round the field a few times with Penny, until one of them had tired the other out.

The baby beetroot seedlings had started to be nobbled by the resident sparrow population which, thanks to the unending supply of food from Suz, has grown from 5 spugs 4 years ago when we all moved here, to around 50 this year. And they do like beetroot seedlings, so out came the chicken wire.

The latest sowing of carrots is doing well, though they do have this rather pretty little gold bug sat on them – very bling. Needless to say I gave them all an almighty spray with a very strong hose, to try and dislodge them – we’ll see if it works. No idea what they are though – if anyone reading this knows then please do let us know! Ironically, the marigolds were also transplanted from the greenhouse to the roots patch, to help combat the carrot fly by giving off a pungent whiff. Wonder of they also work on ‘bling bugs’?

Whilst on the theme of ignorance, if anyone knows what kind of poo this is please say! At first I thought it might be a hedgehog poo as it’s about the right size, and has a pointy end, but there are no insect bits in it. A vegetarian hedgehog maybe? It didn’t look furry enough to be a little owl pellet either.

We also transplanted the dwarf french beans from the greenhouse, and will add more as the year goes on, for a continual supply.

Meanwhile, in the quiter part of the patch, Suz spent two hours watering the orchard trees, which are weathering the hot sun quite well, all things considered.