This Weekend Why Don’t You… Bottle It Up?
When I was a wee girl I lived in Tasmania. They should call that place the Big Punnet. It is totally the epicentre of the world in terms of berries and fruit, I think. They should have State Of Fruitiness pressed onto their license plates. The places is even shaped like a strawberry. Imagine. My memories of Tasmania are super fruity. Blackberries grew wild along every roadside, dwarfed by ancient apple trees groaning under the weight of their lumpy, imperfect fruits. Windswept greenhouses were steamily nurturing the reddest tomatoes, filled with the fragrance of damp dirt and sticky green leaves. Blytonesque fruits like Loganberries, Elderberries, Mulberries and Gooseberries lined the market stalls, alongside freckly brown pears, quinces, glowing apricots and downy peaches. It all looked good, it all smelled good and of course it tasted better than any fruit I have ever tasted since.
Such a generous bounty always results in a glut. Berries wither, tomatoes soften, apricots blush shades of brown, fallen fruit litters the roadside and fields as supply sadly and swiftly outstrips demand. My Nannas, who grew up in the Depression years, were frugally trained to make the most of these gluts of fruit. It was very lucky for me, because I am very partial to a bit of chutney on some cold roast lamb, a bit of sauce on my egg and bacon pie, perhaps a dollop of ruby jam on my scone. Are you?
The gathering and preparing of jars and jars of delicious jams, chutneys and preserves is a deeply ingrained backdrop to my childhood. The smell of boiling berries, spoons with jammy coatings, a crackly transistor playing golden oldies, rubber bands, rubber rings, Fowlers bottles, cellophane jar toppers, packets of pectin for when things were a bit runny, the air sharp with vinegar, or the smell of burning sugar. I can smell it now just typing this. It smells like happy.
The thrifty accoutrement of a preserver’s arsenal were deposited in drawers and dressers and tins around the Nanna houses and at our holiday shack. Shelves were lined with finished batches, labels smoothed into place, dates and varieties scribbled in biro in Nanna cursive. Gingham topped jars were thrust into the surprised hands of anyone who visited. Sheets of jam stained blank labels were stuffed between canisters of sugar alongside dog eared recipe books. There was a shelf for empty jars under the sink where they waited til the next batch, ready to be boiled into sterility and preserve worthy. Friends dropped of empty jars. There was an order and a comfort to it all. A promise of delicious edible embellishment on every plate for months to come. Yum.
So let’s hark back to stickier, sweeter times, shall we? Why don’t we make our own delicious edible embellishments too?! We could start our own preserving tradition? Let’s make our own batch from something seasonal? (Do let’s!) You could even get a head start on Christmas gifts and make preserves for your nearest and dearest. Or you could keep them all for your pantry shelf and enjoy weeks of smug spoonfuls.
So. Let’s start collecting jars this weekend (or get a head start and buy some here.) Next, check out this list of Seasonal Produce and have a think about what you might like to make. It’s looking good for lemons, limes, oranges, some berries, cucumbers, chillis, capsicum, tomatoes and cauliflower at the moment, to name a few. As the weeks go on there will be a ton more to choose from, so let’s study up!
Here are some recipe ideas, let me know what you want to make! (I’m pretty keen on Tomato Sauce because it smells like Nan’s place.)
- Orange Marmalade
- Cauliflower Pickles
- Sriracha Sauce
- Lemon Curd
- Pickled Jalepenos
- Roast Capsicum Relish
- Preserved Lemons
- Tomato and Mango Kasundi
- Hands Free Raspberry Jam
- Cucumber Relish
- Green Tomato and Chilli Chutney
- Mandarin Jam
- Passionfruit Jam
- Lime Curd
- Sweet Chilli Sauce
- Green Apple Chutney
- Spicy Pumpkin Relish
- 3 Day Strawberry Jam
- Jamie’s Strawberry Jam
AND I will not stop there. I have scouted some cute printable labels for you too. Look here. Here. Here. Here. Here and here! So now you have jars, nostalgia, encouragement, recipes, seasonal guide to produce and labels. What are you waiting for? Let’s go! Are you in?! Tell me if you are! Comment below!
Pip Lincolne’s fourth book ‘Make Hey! While The Sun Shines‘ is out now through Hardie Grant Books! It features craft projects, nice time tips and recipes for rad people.