I’ve been making cauldrons of jam this week, trying to use up the fruit in the freezer before this year’s harvest begins. Too late! The cherry trees are dripping with luscious fruits and, like the blackbirds, how can I resist such temptation?
These bright red cherries are a sour variety so perfect for making jam using the simplest recipe on earth: wash and stone the cherries (these were so ripe I could just squeeze the stones out), weigh them and cook in their own juice until tender. Add three-quarters the weight in sugar, stir until dissolved then boil until setting point is reached. Easy-peasy, very quick and utterly delicious (hard luck, blackbirds).
One of the things I love about the garden at this time of year is the abundance of ingredients to use in salads.
I particularly like robust salads with delicious dressings of the kind Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall champions in his River Cottage Veg Everyday! (which, by the way, is the most used cook book we have, it’s brilliant – and we’re not vegetarians.) So, this is the kind of basket I come back with after a little forage around the patch: ‘Little Gem’ and ‘Mixed Salad Bowl’ lettuce, curly endive, baby rainbow chard, mint, ‘Latino’ courgette and ‘Navet Plat Hatif’ baby turnips (both eaten raw, sliced very thinly), ‘Imperial Green’ broad beans and ‘Douce Provence’ peas – lightly steamed this time, but often tossed in raw.
Drizzle over a simple dressing made from tahini paste, lemon juice, honey, garlic and olive oil. Bliss.
There’s a bit of a pink thing going on in the garden at the moment. I’ve harvested the garlic as it had died right back, I’m now trying to work out why the white ‘Germidour’ is much pinker then the pink ‘Germidour’! The bulbs aren’t as big as they were last year but there are 80 of them so we won’t go short.
The radicchio ‘Palla Rossa’ is growing like stink and becoming a deeper rose colour every day.
The heirloom purple-podded peas are teasing me with just the tiniest hint of their pink flowers which are so slow to open. They have grown very tall and don’t have too many flower buds coming but we should have a few purple pods in a couple of weeks’ time (and I only grew them for fun, anyway).
The ‘serious’ peas are cropping very heavily now and I’ve put sevreal pickings in the freezer as we can’t keep up with them. We’ve grown ‘Douce Provence’ for the first time, alongside what I thought were ‘Early Onward’ but Roger thinks are ‘Kelvedon Wonder’ (moral of the story: make sure the variety is written on the brown paper bag when buying loose peas).
Anyway, the French peas ( on the left in photos below) are fantastic. They have very broad pods and big peas which really live up to their name – they are unbelievably sweet and delicious raw. I think they are a definite for next year.
Back to all things pink, this little beauty has self-set in the cabbage patch and I don’t have the heart to evict it.
More beauties in the polytunnel, too – the aubergines are at last in full flower. I planted 4 different varieties – ‘Moneymaker’, ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Long Slim Purple’ and ‘Bonica’ and I have to confess I can’t remember exactly which is which but hopefully all will become clear when the fruits appear. In the meantime, the flowers are all different shades and styles and truly pretty.
I really should get more organised in future, maybe draw a little map or something when I plant so I know what’s what – but then, where’s the fun in that? 🙂