been months since I wrote in my blog and perhaps, maybe, someone is wondering
what I’ve been up to in the interim. Recovering from my sinus surgery took a
long time and much of my attention and energy. The most obvious thing that
suffered as a result was my tomato crop, which was pretty non-existent in
summer 2017. Hubby did get a good harvest of chillies though – there are still
more to pick – and that’s a testament to their hardy, self-sufficiency. Aside
from regular watering chilli plants don’t need much else except sunshine and
pollinators and there were no issues there.
many more things I could say about the last 6 months or so, but, what I’d
rather describe right now, is my absolute delight that I have, this very day,
produced my first good batch of marmalade!
is at least my fourth attempt over several years to produce a jam or marmalade
that is neither too thick (the rubbery plum jam I made will be in my family’s
memories for many years to come!), nor too runny (still one jar of runny
marmalade in the fridge from last year!). Tip: if you make runny marmalade it
makes a simple and tasty addition to muffin mix! Rubbery jam on the other hand,
is not much good for anything! You could melt it down and use it as a meat
glaze I suppose. I think I’ve blocked out what we did with it!
time when I made marmalade I did several things differently:
- I started early in the day;
- I let it bubble at a very
high rate (much higher than before);
- I waited until a spoonful
on a cold plate could be crinkled – yes, crinkled.
time, I actually had fun. The tension of making preserves has mostly dissolved.
I don’t fear it any more. I know how to sterilise the jars and lids without
checking the instructions. I know you should always have oven mitts on when you
use tongs to extract the jars and lids from the boiling water, so as to avoid
boiling water rolling down the handles of the tongs onto your unsuspecting
know you need just-ripe fruit to have a good ‘set’ and I know you need much
more sugar than you could imagine and I bought it in weeks before the Seville
Oranges would ripen.
delightful part of all this is being in rhythm with nature, with the flow of
the seasons. We have apples in the storeroom, tenderly packed in newspaper,
thanks to a tip from a market grower. We had dried coriander seeds in the spice
drawer thanks to saving them from an earlier harvest. The apricot tree has been
pruned and the lemon tree has been manured. It’s a flow, a connection, with the
natural world that feels, simply, right.
tonight as I sip a glass of Sauv Blanc, I pat myself on the back for my
persistence, patience, and studious research of all things jammy and remind
myself that $6-$10 for a jar of the precious stuff is really not too much to
pay for the effort, time, and learning that goes into making preserves.
finally, a toast: to Oded Schwartz, preserver extraordinaire without whose book
Preserving the world would be a
poorer place, and humanity’s ancient traditions for making food last longer
would be lost to the general populace.
Palitja Moore, text and image, 2017