Saturday, 24 October 2009

Autumn Odds and Ends

It's not been a very colourful autumn here - this is the best tree I could find on my travels yesterday. Most of the leaves are simply turning brown and falling off straight away or falling off green, and today's strong winds will have removed even more of the leaves. Strong winds were a feature of the spring, and caused a chill which slowed the progress of many of my fruits and vegetables.
My activities outdoors will now consist more of walking than gardening. The time between now and March is one of rest for me, with only occasional digging and other preparation works on the plot. But before I could relax, there was one last job to do.
This morning I bottled the last of my apples and the wild pears I picked a couple of weeks before. Bottling is what people used to do before freezers, it's simple and effective. Above is a jar of apples - for this you really need Kilner jars whose lid is in two pieces; a round sealing disc which sits on top and the screw top which helps keep the seal tight. You pack the fruit in the jar, cover it with a syrup (8 oz sugar to 20 fl oz water) which is at boiling point, sit the sealing disc on top (not the screw top) and put it in a cool oven (gas 2/3) on a tray lined with newspaper. It takes about an hour for the fruit to cook through, take it out, put the screw top on so that the seal makes contact with the top of the jar. Then you wait for the "click" as the cooling jar forms a vacuum seal - it happens in a minute or two. Once it has cooled, all you have to do is tighten the screw top to ensure a permanent seal.
In addition to the pounds of fruit which went straight into the freezer, here is my collection of preserves made from this year's fruit: bottled pears, plums and apples, and lots of jam - mainly redcurrant, but also gooseberry and rhubarb, raspberry, raspberry & redcurrant, and plum. I haven't bought any jam or tinned fruit in years!

Have a good weekend.

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