Discovering the farm kitchen – Overcoming my Preserving Hang Ups and Bottling Cumquats

 

This is going to sound ridiculous, but I don’t know that I ever thought through, I mean really thought through what producing our own food would involve.  I guess I thought as far as “wouldn’t it be great to just pop outside and pick a few vegies for dinner” and I had some vague idea that one day I would like to do some preserving and have a few jars of home grown things lined up in the pantry.  But I never really thought about the fact that you kind of have to seize the opportunity as fruit and veg on the farm come into season before they start dumping their prolific bounty all over the place.  When it comes to fresh produce, it truly is a case of ‘use it or lose it’…unless of course you preserve it.

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Our cumquats packed into preserving jars, waiting for the vanilla and brandy sugar syrup to be poured on

 

I have a bit of a hang up when it comes to preserving.  About five years ago, after planting every available space of our rental property at the time with heirloom tomatoes, I bought a Fowlers Vacola preserving kit with the thought of preserving our own tomatoes.  One day, over the course of a few hours (while carefully supervising two very active toddlers), I turned one huge box of our homegrown tomatoes into bottled tomatoes.   After all that time spent blanching and skinning, seeding and quartering, sterilising and processing, that huge box of tomatoes packed down into four – yes, four! – bottles of tomatoes.  A couple of weeks and a few spaghetti bolognese dinners later and we’d used the lot.  It’s not very ‘farm girl’ of me, but I’ll admit it: while the taste of those bottled tomatoes was surprisingly good, the effort involved kinda put me off.

So it was with some trepidation that I heard hubby say this morning, “Thought we might take some buckets into the paddock and pick those cumquats today.”  Cumquats?  Did he just say cumquats?  My mind skipped ahead and filled in the blanks.  No one eats cumquats fresh.  Cumquats can only mean one thing.  Preserving.  Far out.  Yes, I had plans of preserving again some day – but I wasn’t quite prepared for today.

So, here was our 1.35 kilogram cumquat haul:

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Cumquats picked from the old tree in the back paddock this morning

 

While hubby and I hunted down all the jars, lids, clips and rings, we put the kids to work washing the fruit; a task they all thoroughly enjoyed (much to our surprise!).

The recipe we found was super simple – just a mix of sugar, vanilla and brandy poured over fruit packed into sterilised jars and sealed.  Swirl every day for a few days until the sugar is fully dissolved.  Easy.

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Our cumquats bottled, ready to steep in brandy and syrup

 

Seriously.  That was it.  Took about twenty minutes.  The thing that took the longest was probably sterilising the bottles.  If preserving can be this easy, I think I’ll be giving it another shot sometime soon.  Will just have to wait and see if it works…

Something else should be emerging from the kitchen very soon…here’s my wild sourdough rye starter ready to go….More on that soon  – hopefully! 🙂

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My homemade rye wild sourdough starter showing strong fermentation – (hopefully) ready for baking

4 thoughts on “Discovering the farm kitchen – Overcoming my Preserving Hang Ups and Bottling Cumquats

  1. Hi, those cumquats look good in the jars, but I keep thinking that not many real farmers in days gone past would have the spare money to spend on a lot of brandy. How would cumquats be preserved in a cheaper, more accessible way for everyone? Also isn’t it just the skins used with cumquats cause the insides is too sour?

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    1. Hi Kate, we were lucky as we had a bottle of brandy that had been a gift (so not as much expense for us 🙂 ). But yes, in times gone by it probably wouldn’t have been the cheapest recipe to produce. That being said, when I was growing up brandied cumquats were a Christmas treat (not an everyday thing). People tended to make a batch of brandied cumquats, keep a few jars themselves and give the rest away as Christmas presents. Also, a lot of people (us included) use the brandy syrup in the jar to pour over icecream or even drink straight in a tiny glass, so it doesn’t go to waste. A cheaper way would be to preserve them using sugar. Here’s a good detailed recipe: http://foodpreservation.about.com/od/Preserves/r/Preserved-Whole-Kumquats-Recipe.htm

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      1. Oh, and the cumquats are fine to eat whole (just avoid the seeds), they soak up the sugary syrup so are much sweeter – just leave them in the syrup for at least three months before eating. Happy preserving 🙂 – Julie

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  2. Sounds cool. Would the kids get to eat it? Or would it be too full on alcohol?

    Either way, you could still give them some sourdough bread. They would love it, I’m sure!

    -Bella

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