When you have success in the Kitchen garden you are bound to end up with a glut of one or more crops. Pickles and Preserves are an ideal way to solve the problem of excess fruit and vegetables
Here at Dovewood the fruit has done exceptionally well this year, the vegetables…not! So what to do with all this goodness is the question. Although this might seem a bit late in the season for this advice, if you are anything like me you may well have frozen some of the abundance to deal with another day. Now is a good time to get to grips with the surplus lurking in your Freezer. Perhaps even turn some into edible gifts?
Pickles and Preserves
I love to see rows of Pickles and Preserves on a Pantry shelf or in the cupboard. All that Summer goodness bottled, to be enjoyed through the colder darker months of the year, brings a comforting glow to my heart. Just as logs neatly stacked ready for the Woodburner makes my heart sing. And there is something homely and comforting about these simple pleasures.
No special equipment is needed for making these bottled delights as long as you have a large Saucepan. If you have a Preserving pan and a cooking thermometer they are helpful but not essential, otherwise your basic Kitchen equipment will be all you need. Oh! and a good supply of clean, empty jars…….
When I became overwhelmed with the Strawberries this year, I simply froze the excess to deal with at a later date. The only problem with frozen strawberries is that they turn to mush when thawed. But you can still use them. I usually opt to make Jam, which is what I did this year when I discovered 6 pounds of fruit taking up precious space in my freezer. However there are other things you can do, so why not try these ideas:-
- Place semi-frozen fruit onto a flan base and cover with a strawberry flavoured gelatine to hold the fruit in shape BUT you will have to work quickly as the gelatine sets rapidly on contact with the chilled fruit!
- Whizz the frozen fruit into a smoothie
- Defrosted fruit can be added into a yoghurt or any other pudding where its loss of shape doesn’t matter
- Make Strawberry Preserves – Jam or Coulis – use this recipe
Last year I had a massive crop of Courgettes. When I say massive, I mean anything more than one person can manage as I am the only one that likes them here! Last year I discovered a lovely recipe for pickling them which you can try. This made a lovely change to other pickles through the winter months. In fact I guarded them so well that I have found an extra jar at the back of my preserves cupboard. So I will have one jar for this winter. (I grew very few courgettes this year, and certainly not enough for Pickles).
We have a pretty little Crab Apple tree in our Orchard of a variety called Laura. The fruits are of a good size and a lovely shade of dark pink-red. Last year we had no fruits, this year (its second in the ground) we had a wonderful crop of 5lbs, amazing from a tree only 5 feet high. I made Crab Apple Jelly which set well and is a beautiful wine red colour. Other varieties such as the fruits pictured here will give the Jelly a beautiful golden colour when set.
An Unusual Pickle – Alternative to Capers
If you enjoy Capers you might like to try this recipe – Pickled Nasturtium Seeds! So easy to do, and makes for a interesting conversation as you feed them to your friends!
I was introduced to this lovely Sweetcorn pickle by a dear friend. If you don’t grow all the ingredients in your garden it is well worth purchasing the missing ones to make this recipe. Serve it with Sausages or with Jacket Potatoes to liven them up.
Other Soft Fruit Preserves
Red and Black currants are easy Jams to make as they set so well, Raspberry and Blackberry are lovely too. The problem with them is the quantity of seeds. This can be easily overcome by straining the stewed fruit through a jelly bag or strainer before adding the sugar. Jellies are not difficult to make just a bit more time consuming.
Don’t be put off the idea of Jam making because you have struggled in the past to get them to set. A runny preserve can be used in other ways. Strain them through a fine sieve if necessary to remove the seeds and label them Coulis!
- Stir into Yoghurt
- Use in a Bakewell Tart
- Use to flavour sweet and savoury sauces
- Add to a homemade Ice Cream
- Add to Rice Pudding or Porridge
The Store Cupboard
Pickles and Preserves are easy to make, and an easy way to use up the gluts from the Kitchen Garden. You don’t need lots of special equipment. If you can find a little bit of time to make them, you will free-up precious space in your Freezer. Any ‘surplus’ jams, jellies and pickles make delightful presents for family and friends. Dress up each jar with a pretty label and a fabric cap.
So next time you have a glut in your garden think about turning it into a delightful opportunity to spread(!) the joy of Summer through the winter months. Homemade scones topped with your homemade Strawberry jam will never have tasted so good!