It must come sometime to jam today, Alice objected.
No, it can't said the Queen. Its jam every other day.
Today isn't any other day you know.
Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland.
Some days stand out. They linger in the memory being full of colour and sensory pleasure. They deserve to be captured, in a way this is an impossibility. The high empty sky and the glittering blades of grass. The morning rook-cry in the distant wood. The still warm dun earth and the satisfying pop - crack of stover under boot step. They were not photographed at least not properly.
Purple stained hands from blackberry picking from over-loaded hedgerows, full of berries, wild rose-hips and hawthorn. The giggles of the young tourists who were striking a pose underneath the pub signs on my road. The lovely surprise flower my little O chalked on the wall. All linger on the chill air and then pleasingly fade into the warmth of my kitchen.
Winter is coming, I am looking for little warm dresses and cosy pyjamas. Thinking of filling the coal shed and worrying about the cost of oil. But first a round of preserving. I love jam and chutney making, the smells in the house, the bubbling pots, the rows of sterilized jars and the squirreling away with the loot into the dark of the cupboard. It is one way of capturing the season. Next year I am vowing to try my hand at country wine making especially after re-reading Joanne Harris's evocative book Blackberry Wine which brilliantly entwines both food and memory.
Foraged crab apples for pectin.
Squishing the fruit is very satisfying.
That colour has got to be good to eat.
There will be jam today, eaten on hunks of lovely soft warm bread. There will be blackcurrant and blackberry jam, rhubarb and vanilla jam, Chilli jelly (thanks to Sue at The Quince Tree ) Runner bean chutney and a small but precious amount of pink gooseberry and white currant jelly.
I really must learn to frame the background of my photos a little better! (Thanks to lovely Grandma for E's birthday present.) Anyway, preserving is really very easy and it is a thrifty way of using up a glut of something. I use this dear old book
and if I ever get back up to my allotment and if there happens to be a marrow I am definitely going to try this recipe:
Marrow and Ginger Jam
1.5kg / 3lb marrow (after peeling and removing seeds)
Finely grated rind and juice of two large lemons
40g/1.5oz root ginger
1.5kg/3lb granulated sugar
Cut marrow into small cubes and steam for 20 minutes.
Turn into a bowl and add lemon juice, rind and ginger (tied in a muslin bag) and sugar.
Cover bowl and leave to stand for 24 hours.
Transfer to large saucepan and heat slowly stirring all the time until the sugar dissolves.
Bring to the boil. Boil steadily for 30 to 45 minutes (or until marrow is almost transparent and syrup.)
Draw pan away from heat. Stir in butter to disperse scum
Remove ginger. Pot and cover jam.
According to the book this jam never sets firmly and remains syrupy.
Edit: Well, disappointingly there was a lack of marrow (or over-large zucchini) in our plot. There was however two small courgettes (young zucchini) and an abundance of courgette and pumpkin flowers. These were quickly harvested for one of our favourite starters, Deep-fried, stuffed Courgette Flowers. Alas no photos as they are picked, prepared as eaten with haste. Crunchy and soft scrummyness!
We eat courgettes around once a week, mostly in a pasta sauce but I really don't know if I grow the plants for the 'fruit' or the flowers. These plants are so easy to grow, even just a couple in a small space will yield lots of yummy goodness.The flowers are such a delicate treat which really herald the beginning of summer and the serving of this dish this week was the last truly summery dish we shall have till next year.
Deep-fried Stuffed Courgette Flowers:
At least two flowers per person.
Grated baby courgette
Grated cheese (we had cheddar but mozzarella or ricotta are beautiful with this dish.)
Wash flowers well and remove the stamens.
Mix grated veg and cheese and stuff flowers gently.
Coat with tempura batter and deep-fry for a few minutes until golden and crisp.
When ready, pop onto kitchen paper to remove excess oil. Season with salt and black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
A great dipping sauce for these beauty's is the aforementioned Chilli Jam. Enjoy.xxx
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