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.
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:
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.
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! 🙂