Sunday, January 30, 2011

Learning The Art Of Preserving

Canned peaches, peach chutney and cucumber pickle.
It is a busy season out here in the Langkloof! Apples are ripening all over the countryside! It just so happens that the apple orchard right next door to the farm has apples ripening first. All we have to do is walk next door and pick apples for pies or for eating. We pick the blemished ones because the apple company cannot sell them anyway. We cut off the bad bits and enjoy a delicious snack of juicy apple straight from the tree! Talk about 0 food miles!
When we first arrived on the farm, it was apricot season! Once we had unpacked the essential things, we went straight to apricot jam making! We only made a few jars and so we are on the very last one which just about breaks my heart, because I haven’t ever tasted such good jam – if I do say so myself! Are you aware that most of the shop bought brands of apricot jam are in fact made with pumpkin?! We also made apricot chutney but I didn’t enjoy it that much! The rest of the family did, though!
We have just about finished the preserving of the peaches which came in about two weeks ago. We have more peaches coming though, this time from the farm. We got the other peaches from another local farmer.

I cannot wait for the figs to ripen because fig jam is a favourite in our household! We have lots of fig trees here so there will be plenty for all!
We have cucumbers coming from garden! My job is to make pickled cucumbers. I have made lots for both our families and we are meant to store them up for winter but...We are already on the second jar! It is so yummy on freshly baked bread with homemade cottage cheese...hmmm! Delicious!

Our bread recipe is from the book by Carla Emery called: ‘The Encyclopaedia Of Country Living.’ It really is good bread and very filling!
I also tried my hand at ginger beer making! We have a very good recipe from an old ‘Ideas’ magazine so I suggest you try it. Just a warning, once you start making it, your family won’t let you stop! My dad loves his ginger beer very much! That reminds me...I better make some more today!

(Makes 5 litres)
700ml Sugar
15ml Ground Ginger
1tsp Brewer’s Yeast

Bring 2-and-a-half litres water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved. Remove from the heat. Add 2 litres of cold water to the saucepan and stir in the ground ginger. Allow the mixture to cool down until it is lukewarm, then pour 125ml of the liquid into a bowl or jug. Add the yeast and stir until dissolved. Stir into the rest of the liquid. Stir well, then use a jug and a funnel to pour the liquid into cleaned and sterilised bottles. Add 2 raisins to each bottle. Close the bottles tightly with a lid, leave at room temperature for about 24 hours, then place in the fridge. The ginger beer is ready to drink, preferably ice cold, once the raisins have floated to the top of the bottle. Enjoy!

Learning this art of preserving is a very enjoyable and rewarding experience. We have made quite a few flops. I can’t say our peach jam turned out very well! But we are trying and find it a lot of fun figuring out what we did wrong!
Have a blessed week!

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