The Jam Jar Tide

The Eglantine rose (Rosa rubiginosa), with delicious fruit to come

The jam jar tide is turning.  The pantry shelves are emptying, and the jars that once held jam, jelly, chutney, pickled bits and pieces, have been accumulating in cardboard boxes perched perilously on the worm-eaten wine rack.  Not for much longer.

The blackcurrant comes on apace in the heat.  Wild raspberries have moved in from the lane – no mean feat as the runners must have penetrated through several feat of stone wall.  Not that there’s much of a crop, and anyway, I plan to move the plants from their narrow border (supposed to be dedicated to the espalier plum, with a collection of hepaticas beneath its branches), out to ‘the wood’.  There are enough to nibble as we mooch through the garden before breakfast, but sometime there will be enough to jam or jelly – our own raspberry jelly for the croissants.  Mmmm…

Anyway, blackcurrant jam is pretty good too.  And some pulp will be stored for pouring over vanilla and bayleaf ice cream, or adding a dollop to a stew of hare.

The rhubarb in the kitchen garden is too young yet for the jam jars, so the next big crop will be our plums, and greengages from Alec’s Lincoln garden.  Then radish pods for pickling.  I see T&M are selling a variety supposedly just for this function, though any sort of radish does perfectly well if you don’t mind a bit of untidiness.  Pods need picking quite young.  Leave them too long and you might as well pickle sawdust.

And then the apples.  Well, rosehips too.  The eglantine rose is in full flower this morning, leaving its delicious smell of apple pie in the air, though it’s been doing that since late March or so.  The young foliage is scented too, especially after a heavy shower, and it’s hard to know why more gardens don’t grow it.  It even hedges quite well if you need that sort of control.  Anyway, we use the hips for the apple jelly, using about a third rose hips to miscellaneous windfallen apples.  The combination of flavours is delicious.

And so the tide turns.  On through chutney and fruit cheeses, roasted tomatoes and peppers sunk in amber oil, white gherkins in greeny dill vinegar…  Until, at last, the cardboard boxes are once again empty and waiting to be filled with apples for overwintering, and the pantry shelves are piled high with booty.



About david stuart

garden writer and journalist, and occasionally a designer, with a garden in the Scottish borders, and his pal's gardens in Edinburgh, London, and Lincolnshire. They keep both of us very, very busy. Books I've written listed on my website, and dozens of articles and garden and plant pictures. Currently working on several new projects. One of these was to return to painting - see the blog - and which is proving exciting! or, more fun, have a look at
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3 Responses to The Jam Jar Tide

  1. Adele says:

    Have you got a recipe for the rosehip and apple jelly? Sounds interesting and I would love to try it.

    • david stuart says:

      4 lbs (1.8 kg) windfall apples, or whatever you can lay your hands on.
      1lb or more of rosehips – here we use eglantines, but rugosa hips equally tasty

      Coarsely chop apples, removing bruised bits. Put into a suitable pan, together with rosehips.
      Cover with water, and an inch extra. Put in a very low oven overnight.
      Next morning, mash, in a desultory manner, with a potato masher.
      Strain pulp into a fresh pan.
      For every pint or so of juice, add 1lb sugar.
      In the usual way, boil to setting point.
      And pour into jam jars.
      I stretch cling film over the top ASAP. Then screw on lid when cooler.

  2. david stuart says:

    More on Rosa rubiginosa… IF allowed, makes a big bush, 4-6ft high, and as much across, augmented each season by marvellously spiny canes. Next season, these branch, flower, bend over with weight. I thinks it’s a lovely plant; scented foliage, brilliantly pink single flowers, sealing wax red hips. In the previous garden, there were a couple of steps, oh, 12ft across or so, up to the terrace and the walk from the summerhouse to the main walled garden. We had a couple of eglantines on either side of the steps, supporting a nice scented clematis (Clematis recta), the whole lot half engulfing huge greeny-blue Ali Baba jars whose planting varied with the season.
    The roses got thinned out every second season or so, though they would have clipped into hedges. If you like the plant, and need more, scrape seed out of the ripe hips, sow immediately, and leave the tray/pot/whatever outside over winter. Next season’s seedlings take three seasons to make a shrub large enough to register in the garden. More than worth the wait!

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