21 March 2014

I'm in Preservation Mode


I'm in preservation mode this week, self preservation mode. The garden is finally in full production (it's take all summer, it's not been a good year) and the tomatoes, cucumbers, capsicum, egg plant, beans and pumpkins are all ready and needing to be used or preserved so we can enjoy the fruits of our vegetable garden over the winter.

The good old Fowlers Vacola has come out of storage and been cleaned up. The jars, lids and clips have been put through the dishwasher and stacked ready to sterilise.

The dehydrator is out on the verandah and the first batch of tomatoes are in it as I type. We love semi-dried tomatoes to nibble on, add to winter salads and to give pasta sauces a flavourful boost. There's a variety in the dehydrator, some little ones, some slightly larger (called Granny's Throwing tomato) and a few others that are self-sown and frankly I have no idea what they are, but they taste good!

There's also a lot of green tomatoes left so green tomato pickle is on the list of things to get done this week.  One of our favourite winter weekend lunches is a roast beef, cheese and pickle on freshly baked wholegrain bread toastie with a mug of vegetable soup. Yum! And I'm not sure I'll be able to wait for a cold, wet, winters day to enjoy one.

When I wandered outside last Sunday to see what was in the garden the beans were finally, well beans. They've been leaves and flowers for weeks, every day I've checked for beans and come in disappointed. Now I'm picking a handful every day, around 250g - 400g a day so far this week. Fresh beans are so good, and having a freezer stash of homegrown, organic beans for the winter just makes my heart go pitter-patter. Some I've left whole, others I've cut up, they're great for casseroles. Whole beans are especially nice steamed then lightly fried, just for a minute or two, in a little olive oil with a crushed clove of garlic.

The fig tree is doing what it does this time every year, and producing kilos and kilos of beautiful figs. The jam pot has been getting a daily workout. I've become the fig jam maker of the family. About this time each year everyone starts dropping off jars and sugar and putting in their orders for fig jam. The fig tree isn't huge, especially by fig tree standards, but it sure does produce a lot of fruit. Some of those delicious figs will be dried too, they go very well with a cream cheese as an appetizer (or to just enjoy while you're sitting with a good book ;) ).

The other thing I've been preserving this week is rhubarb. Wayne loves rhubarb and apple pie so stewed rhubarb is now happily stacked in ziplock bags in the freezer, ready to be made into pies and cobblers once the weather cools down. There's also a bucket of rhubarb champagne brewing on the kitchen bench, ready to be bottled on Sunday. I'll share more about that in another post - it's delicious.

When you grow your own food you realise very early on that there is either a feast or a famine. Thankfully we are in feast mode. Everything is ready at once so it's been a hectic week;  I feel like I've lived in the kitchen.

I almost have, the shelves are filling up, the freezer is filling up and once winter arrives and the garden slows down we'll have a little preserved summer sunshine to brighten our winter dinners.

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