Thursday, 10 July 2014

Making the most of over abundance

OR - MAKING THE MOST OF THE BOUNTY…..!
So, you’ve done the hard work, you have invested you’re money and planted lots of fruit trees and soft fruit bushes, and chosen all the fruits to grow that you love the most. It will soon be that time of year when everything starts happening at once!
Suddenly, your patience and toil is rewarded – all at the same time. Your apple and plum trees are groaning under the weight of crop, late raspberries and strawberries are all ripening at the same time, bunches of grapes are slowly ripening provocatively, and you still have several pounds of blackcurrants you hurriedly threw in the freezer a few weeks ago.
Sounds like heaven, yes, but such circumstances can leave you feeling a little bewildered unless you ‘have a plan’!
There comes a point nearly every year when the serious fruit grower ends up with more produce than he or she can consume at the time. This can be one of the most important periods in the fruit growing calendar. One of the joys of growing your own fruit is being able to store up and prepare your delicious fruits in ways that can be enjoyed for the rest of the year and over winter – a store cupboard of fruits and fruity products that you can draw on when there is no fresh fruit available in the garden.
Keen cooks with imagination will already have an arsenal of techniques and recipes on which to draw. For the rest of us, here’s a run down to get the imagination and inspiration started.
Freezing
Nearly all fruits freeze well. If you plan on growing a lot of fruit it would probably be a good investment to have a spare chest-freezer lurking in the garage just for fruit, otherwise you could end up with a bulging freezer and there may come a point when you have to choose between that last bag of gooseberries, or a bag of frozen pea’s ….something has to give!
Soft fruits can largely be frozen as they are, rhubarb is best blanched before freezing. Top fruits should all be halved or quartered and apples and pears ought to be blanched first, briefly in boiling water, or ready-prepared in a format you can use.
Bottling
Is a time-honoured tradition. If you see kilner jars for sale, buy them! There is nothing finer than having jars of beautiful brightly coloured soft fruits, plums, gages and sour cherries awaiting consumption just as they are, with ice cream or clotted cream!
Strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, blackberries, plums, gages, rhubarb, cherries and sour cherries, as well as peaches or apricots all bottle well.
Jams and conserves
Possibly one of the easiest ways of preserving fruit is to make pots of jam which will then keep for several months as long as the jars are sealed properly. Virtually all fruits can be made into jams and conserves.
Drying
Is not a method that is used very often in the kitchen but dried apple and pear slices are something different to try. You can also dry strawberries and raspberries.
Chutneys
A great way of using up plums, apples and pears and grapes, especially windfalls and it keeps for ages.
Wine and cider making
Apples and Pears of course are used in cider making. The erstwhile wine-maker will utilize absolutely any fruits at his or her disposal.
Juicing
Blackcurrants are brilliant for juicing, but so too are most other soft fruits and blueberries. Apple juice is easy and delicious, so too is Pear, Plum, Cherry and Peach, and you can experiment and blend too!
I hope this run down has inspired you and proven that you simply can never have too much fresh fruit to use and have inspired, mouthwatering enjoyment with.

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