It is gloomy-grey and pouring with rain outside. The conservatory is the only place in the house where there’s enough light to photograph all these jars. It’s a day for conjuring up the sun, in thought if not in fact, as I said in my rose petal post in June:
That’s the magic we make with preserves, we bottle summer, make ourselves a memory and a promise it will come again, for when we are lost in depths of winter.
This is my last preserving post for the time being, just as the rosehip syrup of Monday’s post was the last outing for bottles, jars and jelly bags – until February and marmalade-time come around again. I thought you might like to know what I have been making this year.
Jams: rose & rhubarb, redcurrant & gooseberry, black & redcurrant, plum with cumin, blackberry & plum and fig & plum.
Chutneys (made by self or partner): courgette & apricot, green tomato, damson & apple and spicy mixed vegetable.
Also: cucumber pickle, hawthorn ketchup, rowan jelly, black hedgerow jelly and plum & apple mincemeat for Christmas.
Then there was the membrillo or quince cheese, which kept me up, watching and stirring, until 3 o’clock in the morning. And jars and jars of fruit compotes and sauces, mostly apple, with blackberry, quince or plum. Our one apple tree was laden and we couldn’t bear to throw away such good food, even onto the compost heap.
I love this laying down the bounty of summer and autumn against winter’s scarcity, even though it’s no longer necessary. It connects me to the changing seasons, the turning year, and to centuries of people doing this before me. It gives me a comforting sense of prudence and providing; and feeds my sense of history.
I must remember all this next time I am swearing and sweating in the kitchen over a pan of fruit. Next year perhaps I will remember to invite friends to share the work and bounty both – though not to stay up until the early hours!
Tap the photo for a bigger version if you want to read all those little labels.