Back to the market

Living in a place where a car journey (or a long walk) is required to get to the nearest shop, it’s good to have a well-stocked store cupboard. When it comes to fresh produce, however, things are a bit more tricky. My success with peach and tomato bottling using produce from the local Friday market encouraged me to make a return trip and seek other produce to add to my stores. So, last Friday I returned home with six mangoes plus a tray each of nectarines, sweet potatoes and mushrooms.

My haul

My haul

We ate some of the fruit fresh, but my idea was to experiment with ways to store these goodies. You can’t safely preserve vegetables or low-acidity fruit using the hot water bath method, but I have a pressure canner and so the possibilities are wide open. In addition, freezing is an option.

A little research suggested that the best way to store mushrooms (other than drying, which I didn’t want to do) is to cook them and freeze them in their lovely mushroomy juice. I decided to use 250ml Kilner jars for this purpose, thus avoiding plastic and using a container that is very versatile.

Ready for the freezer

Ready for the freezer

The nectarines are acidic enough to bottle without using pressure, but the mangoes aren’t unless you use an acidic juice (e.g. orange) as the preserving liquid. I had some beautiful red syrup from bottling the nectarines (the colour leaches out of the skins) and wanted to use this for the mangoes, so out came the pressure canner:

Up to pressure

Getting up to pressure

And I was able to safely preserve my precious mangoes, although I only managed to get two jars once I’d eaten some fresh! The result of Saturday’s activity was this:

A row of jars

A row of jars on my dresser

They’ll actually have to be stored in the dark, but they do make a handsome display for a little while.

Because the sweet potatoes last quite a while without processing, I’ve only got as far as making some of them into soup (a glorious colour) and freezing it, but I have discovered that they too can be pressure canned and so, that’s next on my list of things to try.

The lack of produce from the garden this year is encouraging me to explore other sources of fresh food, which is no bad thing. I wonder what a trip to the market will yield in another month or two?

A closer look

Today, I thought I would get up-close to spring by photographing some of the plants currently bursting forth in my garden. Sometimes, we don’t look closely at the beauty around us, but taking the time to do so is really worthwhile.

Alberto Locoto chilli... resprouting in its second year

Alberto Locoto chilli… resprouting in its second year

Sweet potato... this organic tuber was bought to eat, but started sprouting so I kept it

Sweet potato… this organic tuber was bought to eat, but started sprouting so I kept it

Sprouting potato tuber

Sprouting potato tuber

Lettuce seedling - variety Forellenschluss  from Kate Chiconi

Lettuce seedling – variety Forellenschluss from Kate Chiconi

Shallot

Shallot

Ashmead's Kernel apple from Karuna

Ashmead’s Kernel apple from Karuna

Blueberry flowers

Blueberry flowers

Red currant flowers

Red currant flowers

Rocket seedlings

Rocket seedlings

Seedlings of Aztec Broccoli

Seedlings of Aztec Broccoli

All these plants are edibles – who says you need to grow flowers to have a beautiful garden?

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