Sunday, 15 January 2012

A frosty day and Apricot preserves

Very cold this morning - as was yesterday - woke to a hard frost, that didn't shift all day. We went for a walk up the hill to one of our favourite woods. Beautiful and bright - but we were glad to head for home and home made Lemon Cupcakes after a while.

After lunch I was happy to settle down in the kitchen, warmed by the woodstove and get on with some preserving. I bought 1 kg of Apricots in the market for £ I've been wanting to try a recipe for Apricot Jam.

The recipe starts by preparing the fruit the night before. Halve and take out the stones, which need to be reserved. I then cut the apricots into quarters and mix them in a preserving pan with the same weight in sugar. Then leave overnight for the juices to be drawn out.

Today I put the pan on the heat and let it simmer until all the sugar had dissolved. Turn up the heat and boil for about 20 minutes. While that is happening use nutcrackers to remove half of the kernels from their shelss, then pour boiling water on the kernels. After a minute or so sking them and cut in half and add to jam.

Test for setting point and when the jam is ready take it off the heat and leave for 15 minutes to settle. Then pour into a jug, and fill your scalded jars.

I paid around £2.50 in total for ingredients. £1 for fruit, 25 p for Lemon, and £1.25 for sugar. I wouldn't even have got two good quality jars for that price I'm very pleased with the results....which taste absolutely delicious and were literally childs play to make....and they the colour is gorgeous in the winter sunlight.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Purple Sprouting and maintenance work

It was a beatiful afternoon here yesterday. Blue sky and sunshine. Fairly mild too, almost feels as though Spring is on the way. A batch of polytunnel repair tape I'd ordered arrived during the week, so I got the ladders out and repaired the plastic, where it was beginning to tear.

This cover has been on the polytunnel for 11 years now and looks as though it will see out the coming season too. We bought the tunnel from a firm called Citadel and they I must say though it was expensive we've never regretted it. (see )The size is roughly 30 feet by 20 feet, and as it has straight sides all of that is usable space.

I can't imagine living without all that covered growing space now....especially here in the often chilly North East of England.

Inspired by the mild weather I sowed some Lettuce in a modular tray when I got home, Morton's Secret Mix (Real Seeds) and Little Gem (Wilkos). For now they are sheltered inside a plastic bag in the kitchen window. To move to the polytunnel as soon as they emerge.

After a good day's work we enjoyed some Purple Sprouting Brocolli for our dinner, curtesy of a neighbouring allotment holder.