My weekend was spent picking soft fruit. The sun came out and everything seemed to ripen the same day. The sugars are not as well developed as I would have liked, but the volumes and size of the fruit evokes envy in all who see. I panicked with the thought of preparing and consuming all this produce. Jam is rather a fiddle and there is too much for one person. Next door will eat lots, but they have their own crops as well as access to mine. So I bought a Mehu Lissa steamer/Juicer on Monday morning. It arrived Wednesday and wow I am so thrilled with it. I admit my first thought on opening it was that I will use the steamer to steam a mega huge treacle pudding the next time we are all together.
The fruit I had picked then frozen at the weekend I will sort as soon as I can. On Wednesday evening, wanting to put my new Mehu Liisa to use I picked half a bush of Red Currants and made 4 litres of fabulous crystal clear juice which was amazingly evocative of high summer and tasted utterly divine. For drinking I diluted it about 2.5 times. I will keep some as it came out of the Mehu Liisa to pasteurise (in the Mehu Liisa) and bottle to use for ice cream making or topping. I could have done this straight away directly from the tap in the juicer but I was not organised with the containers. The cordial juice was so de-liciously refreshing. It could be, and some of it was, easily be boiled up to make Red Currant Jelly. This took five minutes extra boiling with extra sugar. I am both speechless and wanting to shout about it from the rooftops. Then will come the tomatoes and apples and plums and..and……
Now how to use the by-products of the juice, sauce and jelly making.
The book tells you how to make jam from the remaining pulp but yes, you are left with about a ¼ pan (large pan) of mixed stalks and spent fruit mush with the seeds or pips. Tempted to chuck them on the compost and be done I was challenged by the Batman, who made a visit in the middle of all this, to make it into something and not waste it. He thought it looked good. So I put it into a smaller bowl and covered it with some white distilled vinegar. It does not have to be white. It just looks better. Left it about 3 days and strained off the clear pink vinegar liquid. Add some sugar, about 0.125kg to a litre. Boil up quickly to incorporate the sugar and pasteurise. Taste it for sugar and bottle. Yes it is really fresh tasting and good used on summer salads as part of a salad dressing. Now surely I can put the rest on the compost without feeling I have wasted food. Being vinegary by now the mush will not attract any unwanted scavengers to the compost. It will decompose in a few days anyway.
So far this week Goooseberries, Raspberries, and Rhubarb have been harvested as well as many Red, Black and White currants you can throw a stick at. I was too late for the Strawberries this year but I have all the top fruit to go for soon.
There is still a lot of top fruit produce in my small garden to go for in the coming weeks, even though some of the plum trees lost out completely on pollination. All the Cherries have been completely stolen. Sadly those beautiful Weck professional preserving jars have sold out but I can still get the Screw Top Bottles for all the pasteurised sauces, cordials and vinegars. When the apples and tomatoes are ready I will need them for all the different juices and chutneys I plan to make so I will buy a box or two of the bottles and search for all those honey jars in the attic. This time I plan to have the whole lot stored on the shelf in a couple of hours or less.
To finish I must tell you that there was NO MESS at all. I did not drip anything. There was no jelly bag. No sticky steering wheel, telephone or computer keypad and my hair did not get sugar in it ether!