More catching up news: I’ve been making jam. Endless, endless jam. My tally this week on the preserve front is 23. Those are the fig jams I made yesterday.
I went up to Vernoux for the usual market day and fell upon Madame Orisette’s figs. I hadn’t expected them to be ready, Guy had warned me I need to hold on a fortnight for the next crop of fruit. But hot weather seems to have brought things on.
I bought five kilos and had to actually do two batches at once as they weren’t going to last even an afternoon in the warm kitchen. Good thing I can multi task. But it was a frantic 20 minutes of near constant stirring.
There is a school of thought that says don’t stir boiling sugar or fruit once it gets going. But I find that if you keep stirring the whole time you won’t get exploding volacanoes of burning jam leaping out of the pan. And it saves on having to scrub burnt bottoms of jam saucepans.
Earlier I made masses of plum jam. Not from my trees – they produce so little at the moment. (Thank goodness for the yellow plum mirabelles which never stop.)Â But from neighbours who have a mighty tree. And as they rent their house out, it is groaning with fruit.
I haven’t done a count, but I think I’m up to around 200 pots for this year and think that means I’m almost done. The christmas fare should have enough stock.
I have also been having a go at drying fruit this month. Teo and Leslie lent me their mighty drying machine. Don’t you love clever friends? Teo built it. I thought I would try and see if I could preserve some of our jostaberry fruit. We spend a fortune on dried cranberries and I wanted to see if I could get a decent crop of my own dried fruit.
It has sort of worked. That’s my most positive spin on it. The berries dried erratically. They look okay, but some are as dry as bullets and others are chewy and good. But I won’t give up.
I’m keen on drying herbs as well. There are plenty of things in the garden that need cutting back and tending to. So first up came the marjoram. I have a thicket of this lovely stuff, and despite using it almost every day on courgettes and in salads, there’s plenty more.
Once I get through this batch I might have a go at rosemary and thyme next. And sage. I need to cut back my sage but can’t bring myself to do it as it is so dramatic and lovely in the garden.
The figs didn’t dry well. Way too fat and juicy. They look gorgeous, but have the consistency of shoe leather. But at least I was able to foist a huge box of mirabelles on Teo as a thank you for the loan of the drying box.
I will have to give in and just make endless fig jam as a way of preserving my crop. But I did cut half a kilo in half and dry freeze them. I’m curious to know how they will do – fall apart when they defrost perhaps.