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.