Filling the store cupboards

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plenty to choose from

I was planning to spend this weekend doing crafty things, but Friday morning dawned bright and sunny and I decided that it was an ideal time to take a trip to Newcastle Emlyn to buy cheap fruit and vegetables. I’ve written previously about the stall that appears early every Friday morning, and the bargains to be had. I visited a few weeks ago, but I wanted to take advantage of the summer produce once again… especially now I have those new cupboards to fill. So, I bought boxes of tomatoes, mushrooms, nectarines and pineapples as well as a small sack of onions; I added a couple of bunches of carrots, a cauliflower and some garlic to my haul and this is what the back of my car looked like for the trip home:

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no chance of those tomatoes and nectarines escaping!

That was Friday morning and since then I have spent most of my time in the kitchen chopping and peeling, roasting and milling, boiling and bottling. I’ve used most of my purchases, as well as veg from the garden and limery.

And now I have bottles and bottles of passata, pineapple and nectarines, a big pot of vegetable Bolognese sauce and another (almost – it’s actually still cooking as I write this) of courgette and carrot soup. I’m going to freeze the latter two in portions as I need to keep the rest of my bottles for apples later in the season.

And now I need a good long sit down. Have you had a busy weekend too?

Sticky Sunday…

… and Saturday as well.

Over the past two days I have mainly spent my time in the kitchen. I started Saturday by making the custard base for some vanilla ice cream*… because we had lots of eggs and some cream that needed using up (well, that’s my excuse anyway). Then I processed the tomatoes I had roasted on Friday and bottled up 25 jars of passata.

I put the roasted tomatoes through the passata mill three times to extract all the pulp and the small amount of skin and seeds left goes on the compost heap. I then reheat the passata and bottle it using the hot water bath method, having checked the pH is below 4.6 and therefore safe to preserve. I’ll do another batch later in the season and then we won’t need to buy tinned tomatoes for a whole year and we will have avoided a whole load of cans that would have had to be recycled (the jars are reusable).

Then I set the now cool custard to churn to turn into ice cream and then returned it to the freezer before starting to make nectarine nectar (just a fancy way of describing purée), which I bottled this morning (Sunday), and which I have just realised will be perfect for Nectarine Bellinis:

And finally, I bottled peaches and nectarines in light syrup combined with the left-over nectar (just one picture because of the stickiness):

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bottled summer

And then I noticed that Mr Snail had dressed appropriately:

Now, I just have a lemon cake to make with the egg whites left-over from the ice cream and then I will be having a lie-down!

-oOo-

*I can’t eat ‘normal’ ice cream because of my lactose intolerance, but if I pre-treat the milk and cream with lactase enzyme, I can make my own that I can eat.

Preservation, preservation, preservation

It’s that time of the year again when produce is abundant – both in the garden and on the market – and so my mind turns to preserving it for those future lean times.

As a result I had two main jobs this morning: first a visit to the Friday fruit and veg market and then cleaning the family preserving pan. The shopping trip can only be done on a Friday, so I had to miss going swimming. They set up in Newcastle Emlyn early, so I left home at 7am in order to make sure I got there before what I wanted had sold out. I arrived before 7:30 and started selecting my bulk purchases. I returned home through the early-morning mist with two large trays of tomatoes, two trays of nectarines and a bag of 20 peaches. I will return for more produce in a week or two (when, hopefully they will have plum tomatoes like last year and trays of peaches), but what I bought will keep me busy for a little while.

And so to the next task. All this preserving – passata, bottled peaches, nectarine purée – will be greatly facilitated by my second preserving pan. However, having spent several years in my mother’s barn, it needed a little cleaning. A quick internet search suggested that brass could be cleaned quite easily using a mixture of white vinegar (half a cup), salt (one teaspoon) and flour (enough to make it into a paste). All you do is dissolve the salt in the vinegar, add enough flour to get a spreadable consistency, smear the paste on your brass, leave for 10 minutes and then wipe/rinse off and dry. And I’m pleased to say, it worked. I did the inside of the pan twice and the outside once… and if it was for decoration I might do it again, but for my purposes, it looks good and was very easy – no elbow grease required!

So now, there are tomatoes roasting in the oven and for the rest of the weekend I will be getting sticky with peaches, nectarines and sugar syrup.

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