Autumn is upon us!
This lovely autumnal weather has got me thinking about preparing for the winter! Nothing better than seeing glistening jars of homemade preserves on the shelves. However, the summer was busy with visits to elderly relatives; happy, sunny weddings, a short holiday in Suffolk, significant family birthdays, and a trip to Australia to meet my gorgeous new grandson, so soft fruit from the garden – the Summer’s Bounty – was swiftly picked and popped into the freezer to be dealt with at a later date!
Despite the stratches and the painfully prickly gooseberry bushes, I love high summer when the fruit is ready to pick. The jewel-like redcurrants hanging like luxurious earrings on the bush and the bright green swollen berries hiding underneath the leaves.
I harvested a good crop of Redcurrants;
a small crop of Blackcurrants;
and a HUGE crop of Gooseberries!;
There weren’t enough Blackcurrants to do more than make one tart but that wasn’t going to happen before all the summer events, so I quickly added them to a bottle of vodka to infuse and turn into fruit liqueur in the future. I had so many Gooseberries, and although it makes THE BEST homemade jam, I was curious to see what Gooseberry liqueur would taste like so into a bottle of vodka some of those went too!
Fast forward until now and out came the wooden spoon and the huge stock pot
Redcurrants were transformed into iridescent jelly, made just that little bit unusual by adding some of my friend Sanjay’s award winning fragrant mulled wine spices to give a gentle spicy hint to the shimmering red preserve.
The jelly is delicious with Roast Lamb and a complementary accompaniment to cold ham. It is also traditionally used as a filling for Linzertorte – one of my favourite desserts. Keep an eye out for the recipe coming soon.
Once snibbed (or topped and tailed, but I just love the word snib!) gooseberries for jam were cooked gently to make sure that the skins stayed lovely and soft. The jam was boiled fairly gently too until it changed to a gorgeous deep red colour with a soft set so that you still get delicious soft pieces of fruit in every spoonful.
My cupboard is fully stocked now, ready for roast dinners, crumpets, and scones and filling homemade sponges or just piling onto thickly butter fresh bread for breakfast. Perfect for an afternoon tea with one of my fruit cakes too. There is at least one jar of each reserved for my mum and dad though and hopefully I will get a jar of homemade Victoria Plum Jam in return!