Monday, 30 July 2012

July goings on.

July has been a busy month so far. 

Inspired by this book:

I thought I'd have a go at bottling (or 'canning' in America) gooseberries. I bought some from a PYO farm I came across to eke out the ones I grew myself.

I used my new preserving pan to sterilise the jars and lids, with a tea towel folded at the bottom as instructed. 

Topping and tailing the gooseberries was rather tedious, but necessary. Miss Read, in her Fairacre series of books, says she uses a pair of nail scissors but I prefer my knife.

I packed each jar with fruit then added hot syrup (Just sugar and water). I screwed on the lids and slightly loosened them, then lowered them into the hot water and brought the water to 88 degrees Celsius for the amount of time it said (20 mins I think - it varies, depending on the fruit used).

The finished result. Now that the fruit has softened there is loads of room left in the jars!

 I was amazed at how the jar lids dimpled down, indicating a vacuum has formed. When you think about it this is just the same process as tinned fruit that you buy in the shop. 

I'm very excited about all this! I love seeing the pictures of Amish cupboards filled with jars of produce, and I love the thought of preserving food without needing a freezer. I've bought some smaller Kilner jars to preserve rhubarb, chopped peaches and chopped pears. I would like to preserve vegetables, soups and stews this way too but, due to low acid content and the danger of botulism therefore, I would need to get a special canning pressure cooker for these.

This month in the veggie garden, after weeks of rain:

First potatoes dug up.

Courgettes (zucchini) are forming. Had to pick these a bit smaller than usual due to slugs nibbling the skins off!

My one remaining Pumpkin plant is now flowering. It always amazes me just how big Squash flowers are! I caught this one in the morning; by midday it had curled up again.

The mint plants, which grow wherever the mower can't reach, are also coming into flower. The bees LOVE them!

And finally my 3 'helpers'....



and Flopsy.

What have you been up to this month?