Tag Archives: plum

Preserving with Petal #gdnbloggers


There hasn’t been much preserving in a while. Whilst fruit has been harvested and safely stowed in a freezer, the plot hasn’t been all that productive over 2016-2017. The tomatoes took their time to arrive and when they did, it was a case of battling blight and removing fruit from the vine in the hope that they would ripen at home.  The puddle of tomatoes this year may not have been as big as last years, but there was a puddle nonetheless.  This had to be used, to be preserved. Whilst there has been homebrew-it is sitting aside quite comfortably-there had been no jamming, jellying and chutney-ing for a while. This would have to change.

The puddle would form the basis of preserves as Petal and I played with the preserving pan.

My first endeavour was chutney, of the green tomato variety. Last year, I dabbled with adding apple and pears, so I decided to repeat the feat with this years experiments. My first batch of chutney, involved the green tomatoes, alongside Falstaff apples and also using the abundance of fenugreek that Mum’s plot has produced. That gives you three different flavours and textures that somehow have to amalgamate together to a suitable counterpoint that brings the whole thing together. I had forgotten, how long it actually takes to chop up all the ingredients and how there is the propensity to make a mess in Mama F’s kitchen. You can have hundreds of green tomatoes, all of varying sizes that need to be chopped up, then there is the apples that have to be defrosted and chopped too. On the surface of it, this could be a drag. Until that is, you stick your ear phones in, develop a technique and hear the muffled words “Punam, I’ll help you, it will be quicker then, and there won’t be a mess.’

Like I could refuse an offer like that.

It was quite therapeutic to make the first batch; with more tomatoes coming and blight about to hit middle earth, it was soon time to make a second batch. I had more jam jars by this point too, by way of preparation. This second batch was simpler and not so fruity in being courgette and green tomato. I forget if I have made this combination before, but it seemed a good idea at the time. It never ceases to amaze me, when rummaging around the pantry of all the different things that could be used. Mustard seeds, be they black or white, will give you an intense ‘curry’ flavour. So when I get asked, did I put curry in the chutney, I have to tut, shake my head a little. Onions, might be used as base, but this flavour changes if you add onion seeds. I don’t put garam masala in-it’s got too many variables-so I take one variable and use that, i.e. coriander, be it seeds or powder.

To make chutney, is an interesting experiment.

As well green tomatoes, there was and is a stash of plums and apples in the freezer. Pounds and pounds have been amassed, so to make jam was the next step.

One of the first flavours that I ever made was plum and apple; named person-centered (it was a some point during a counselling course that I made it) this was calling to me to be made once again. I would be making this alone though, Mama who is usually the production manager would be at school.  The plums were ripe-oh, there is song there-so low pectin, and the apples were cored and peeled. There would have to be lemons or powdered pectin used; I went with the lemons and then stood on a stool at the stove to watch the preserving pan.

It didn’t half smell nice, as everything cooked down and the 104 setting point was encountered. Potting it all up was systematic, has to be done while it is all hot, and soon I I had over a dozen jars. Not bad for five pounds of fruit, but I still have quite a few more. I suspect there will be more preserving over the autumn term,

Preserving, I have missed; Petal and I might have to do some more.


Chateau Petal…or Petal Plonk…#gdnbloggers

Yeah, Petal Plonk doesn’t sound that good, now does it?


Not every thing on the allotment ends up being cooked. There is after all, more than one way to preserve something that has been sow and grown for the future.

2016 involved Petal and I carrying out a number of home brew experiments. Whilst there was a lighter than expected vegetable yield, there was quite a bit of soft fruit. Quite a few blackberries were harvested, and there was something of a bumper crop of currants. We also had a fair few strawberries; which since I don’t really like that much were going into ice cream, be used to make wine or be given away. I decided to go with the home brew by way of experiment.

Strawberry wine was the first of the home brew endeavours; the batch where I learned and saw what the fuss was all about. Al the subsequent batches were about replication and seeing if the straight forward recipe given to be my the fabulous Sister Sparrow could be replicated and to what effect. Problem is, I had little patience during this year; a great many things were done in a rush and probably not thought through. In relation to the home brew-strawberries in particular-I may have racked and bottled a little early. Though I have heard whispers of it being best drunk and consumed whilst young.

With the racking, especially the early stages, I learned to be firm with the must. Not let it all through, basically. Okay so the the odd blackberry or raspberry might plop through, but to generally let all the liquid pass through. With the bulkiness of the must now removed, that leaves the likelihood of sediment passing through, that’s the super fine stuff that even a muslin will let through. It is repeated racking and uber filtration that will overcome that. However, I am not aiming to supply the world’s someliers or open a vintners; I can deal with the sediment, with the wine being drunk from the top. Just don’t shake it all too much!

Today was about racking and bottling; it was the two batches of blackberry that would be dealt with today, leaving a demi-john of rhubarb and gooseberry waiting in the wings. The one batch, was from August 2016 and contained blackberries, plum and currants. This was to be bottled. You can see it above; it is a little cloud-that sediment-but hopefully should settle down. The strawberry wine did-the one in the glass-and it didn’t taste too bad either. Drinking it, was alot like eating a Sara Lee strawberry cheese cake with biscuit base. I kid you not, it was the biscuit base taste that got me. Any way, the batch is now bottled, will be labelled and stowed for future consumption. To keep the colour, I will probably wrap the bottles in brown paper. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of bottles, actually; I was only expecting six 500-ml bottles to be filled. I must think of an interesting name to put on the bottles in the same vein that all the preserves have names. Answers on a postcard, eh?

The other batch, was very very recent; blackberry wine that is dated December 2016. This has been fermented, left to settle and now been racked off-as it were. Any sediment and must that crept in has been discarded and with the wine in demi-johns, it also needs to be stowed away. This is the biggest batch by far, and I have no idea as to how many 500-ml bottles this might produce when it is eventually put into bottles. The colour is rather cool and it looks very claret-y.

As to whether it all tastes any good. Well, we’ll see!

Weekend Welly

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With the heralding of the May Day bank Holiday, you would have been forgiven this morning for being bah humbug as the heavens opened. Everytime I went to even think about putting my wellies on, the heavens opened. It was noon before the threat of rain dissipated. Having spent over a week away, this was an opportune time to see how the land lay as Mama H had been watering in my absence. I have also resisted, in clearing my window sills.

So down we pootled, my mother and I. You go to do one job, mum finds you another 76 to do. The one urgent job to do was to plant out the caulis from
Aunty Tish and net them. There was also a Sunderland Kale that needed to be put out too.So mama H did that as I was charged with watering things. As you can see, lots of fenugreek and various spinach like seedlings are germinating in a carpet of green. Looking good there.

With being charged with the watering, if did so. The potatoes are still asleep, no green shoots there yet. There is still a threat of frost. Frost, that hopefully will leave the blossoming Concorde tree alone. Last year, this was the one tree that stood there sulking; with the apple and plum flowering and fruiting. Something positive to take note of there.

Carrying out a couple of experiment, early direct sow. Dwarf French beans. Varieties sown were purple queen and borlotto dwarf. These are somewhat speculative, as we only just into may. The other experiment, is the laying of shredded paper as a mulch on a potato bed. That one is for further observation.

The Garlic, looks lovely! As do shallots. They in particular seem to have bloomed out of nowhere. Looking fairly sorry for themselves, they have taken on a whole new look for themselves. Some of the spring planted garlic is starting to send out some green shoots as are the onions. These were all mulched today, I really don’t fancy the weeds that have started to pop up.

Finally a few splashes of colour. Not as many as last year, but the tulips are blooming and looking lovely. More anemones were sunk today; whilst racked with pansy envy. There are no survivors on the plot, but at home we have about five or six that were pinched by Ma and put in pots. Providing a burst of red, white and purple.

So much to do. Really would have wanted to plant out a couple of squashes. Might try with a couple later this week. Another experiment….

Have a lovely may bank holiday where ever you find yourselves.


Wear Sunscreen.

Yours in anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit