The Forge

Looking for some good ideas on what to do with your glut of autumn fruit?

With the end of the summer holidays and the kids back to school we thought life would start to calm down a bit and we’d have some time to relax. Wrong! We’ve been so overwhelmed with fruit from our orchards and from our hedgerows that it feels like we’re busier than we’ve ever been. I seem to spend most evenings balancing one child on my hip, typing on my laptop with one hand and stirring an enormous vat of bubbling dark liquid with the other, like one of Macbeth’s witches! With the kids tearing around after school and trying to work from home all day, it really does feel like double, double, toil and trouble at the moment!

So just what can you do with all of this excess fruit? We’ve been experimenting a bit this year, adapting and inventing recipes according to what is most likely to rot and go off first! Here are some of our successful creations, and some which didn’t work out quite so well. We’d love to hear how you’ve been getting on with this year’s glut too!

Spiced Plum and Tomato Chutney – we find that using the basic ratio of 500g of apples, 500g of onions, 500g brown sugar and 600ml of cider vinegar means you can do pretty much whatever you want with the rest. We added in a couple of kilos of tomatoes and plums, a few chillies, peppercorns and then a couple of mulled wine spice bags that were left over from last Christmas. You have to strap yourself in for the long haul as it took us about 8 hours from chopping to bottling but the result has been well worth it. We might even go so far to say our best chutney yet (and we’ve not even been able to wait the three months you’re supposed to before tasting!).

Our Plum Jelly was however much less successful….. Feeling too exhausted/lazy to stone 6kg of plums I instead chose to throw the whole lot in a pan, boil it all up and then strain it overnight through yet another sacrificial pair of my work tights (I don’t have much call for them now that I run a glamping site in rural North Wales!). The next day I decided not to add the usual amount of sugar, thinking I would save the glycaemic load on the kids and the teeth and proceeded to boil it all for a bit, then a bit more, then a bit longer. But no matter what I did I couldn’t get it to set. I even bottled it to check and then re-boiled it the next day but still no good. So we now have 10 jars of what I have rebranded as ‘Plum Syrup’, which we use for drizzling over porridge and yoghurt. It still tastes mighty good!

And from too runny to jelly you have to cut with a knife. I ended up at the opposite end of the spectrum with my Crab Apple Jelly. Distracted by a phone call at the critical point, I overboiled it and it now could be used to build houses. Hmph. It’s still a pretty pale pink colour though so all is not lost.

I think I’ve probably got one more weekend of preserving left in me so we’ll be concocting something with the remaining tomatoes, all of the windfall pears and apples after the storms and the wild crab apples. I’m hoping that with the taste of the tommies, the texture of the pears and the pectin of the crabbies we should be onto a winner. But then you never can tell. I’ll keep you posted!

Posted: 30.09.18 | Wild Food| Recipes| Self-sufficiency

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