Jam…and other related stuff

When we first came to France – and I wasn’t working (oh happy, happy days!) – I really wanted to be the “earth mother” type, collecting, foraging and living off the land. For the first few times I went out for walks I dutifully took along bags, and collected pinecones to burn, or the odd blackberry or two. But a well-instilled fear of “never-eat-a-mushroom-that-you-don’t-recognise” (that’d be everything besides button mushrooms then…) and a terminal laziness has meant that I wasn’t terribly succesful at the foraging lark. Then Mr D resigned from his lucrative job in London (dam’ thoughtless, I say!) (;-) ) and came to live here so I had to get a job. So lack of time plus the aforementioned terminal laziness meant that I really haven’t done quite as well as I might have done on the “earth mother” front.

I made some nut wine a couple of years back, which I like, but don’t drink very often. M-i-L cleaned us out of that, and I meant to make some more this year, but we forgot to collect the green walnuts, and now it’s too late. Sorry, M-i-L, you’ll have to wait until next year! I made a Peach brandy with some past their best peaches last year – it’s OK, but not wonderful. And the peach wine we made with Michel-across-the-road last year has been very nice. I suppose that, as we don’t often have aperos we don’t drink these things that often. Maybe we should drink a bit more!!! The sloes are looking plentiful this year – perhaps I’ll make sloe gin – although, again, I don’t drink much of the stuff. I think I saw a recipe for sloe chutney a couple of years back on t’internet. That might be a better idea!

My biggest success has been jam & chutney making. I don’t think I’ve bought a pot of jam since 2006, and the only chutney I’ve bought has been mango chutney for our rare curries. Mr D’s favourite is Reine Claude (greengage) jam, while I prefer red fruits, either rhubarb & redcurrant or raspberry and redcurrant. We’ve recently eaten a pot of “Freezer Disaster jam” – made from all the soft fruits that were in the freezer when someone who shall remain nameless but wasn’t Mr D left the freezer door open so everything defrosted. It was predominantly myrtille and blackberry, but I think there were some raspberries in there too.

This afternoon I continued the jam making, with 10 pots of plum jam – I bought the plums in the market, but I may speak nicely to our friend Dave who has a plum tree in his holiday home garden. Maybe he needs help clearing the tree!

I also made a joblot of tomato and courgette sauce as Michel-across-the-road gave us a bag of tomatoes and two almost-marrows.

I’ve used one up now, in various guises – grated in sauce, chopped and sautéed with our sweet chilli burgers, chopped in another sauce, and sliced in a Summer Squash gratin. I still have another (the bigger one!) to use. I have plans for a courgette and onion quiche for lunch tomorrow but inspiration is wearing thin. I’m not a fan of courgette soup (though the rest of the summer-squash-gratin-potiron is going to make spicy soup on Sunday) but I may have to resort to that…

And today Mr D and I took a couple of hours out to go wild raspberry picking. We were a bit late, and they were past their best unfortunately, but we gathered about a kilo, mixed with the odd blackberry and myrtille. Mr D wants to make his famous sorbet with them…which is fine by me. I’m not a great sorbet fan, but this is very pleasant.  We’ll probably go on a dedicated myrtille pick next week: not my favourite way of spending an hour, as they are very low down and I get backache. Usually I plump myself down in the undergrowth and pick from a sitting position!

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2 Responses to “Jam…and other related stuff”

  1. Nikki Says:

    When I was child, for a while we lived in a house with an orchard at the bottom of the garden. The trees were great for climbing (I was a kid!) but came laden each summer with Victoria plums. Now I know that for many people this would constitute a culinary heaven, but having endured plum jam, plum cake, plum crumble, stewed plums, plum chutney, plum anything-else-you-can-think-of for several summers in a row, I’ve rather gone off plums.

    But I’m sure your jam is very nice. 🙂

  2. Floss Says:

    I don’t like fruity booze, so poor old Ben is alone if he makes that – therefore, like you, he doesn’t make much! If you’re looking for ideas for your courgettes, the courgette and feta fritters I gave a link to backawhile are nice, and in fact Son 1 will be making them for our guests tomorrow.

    Your letter arrived with that lovely postcard! Thank you so much! You’re right – I rather think it does have my name on it, figuratvely speaking. It was a lovely surprise – thanks again.