Well I managed it. 10 jars of delicious tomato relish, and I made it in my new 20 litre preserving pot. I feel like a proper kitchen gardener now, not just the pretender I was before – using the largest pot I had that was probably more suited to a slow, stove top stew feeding a large family than whipping up a jam. There was always the danger it would boil over if unattended for even half a second. So now I have all the right gear, there is nothing to stop me from preserving everything that grows.
Well actually there is – my meagre jar collection. I try and collect them throughout the year, but very few jars come into our kitchen and what jars are here are part of a closed system where they have strawberry jam in one season only to find themselves filled with pickled onions the next. While the jars seem to have an infinite lifespan ahead of them – so long as they don’t get broken, the lids are another story. The seals don’t seem to last beyond a couple of seasons and the lids themselves begin to rust – especially if they have protected pickles for too many seasons in a row. I need to find a jar lid supplier!
I have wonderful friends who regularly bring me their empties throughout the year, but away from the heady season of harvest preservation, poor Hubby the Un-Gardener just sees this as unnecessary clutter and I’m sure some of precious collection gets surreptitiously sent for recycling!
But there is a huge array of things hanging in the garden – moments away from optimum perfection and need to be contained within jars.
At this point I have two options – I could put out a call to my nearest and dearest and ask for jars and lids, or even just lids or I could go through my extensive collection of elderly preserves and do the unmentionable – throw them out! Well if we haven’t eaten those green pickled tomatoes in four years then I don’t think it will ever happen. Or we could have a pickle party and deliberately and intentionally eat them!
I think my biggest bottleneck in my jar cycle is making too much, with eyes bigger than my stomach. I need to do a stocktake of everything in jars, hidden way in places one would not expect to find jars of jam. But when you make too much then you need to store it all somewhere – anywhere! Which is also half of the problem: if you can’t find it, you can’t eat it!
Then I need to make another list – just how many jams, pickles and preserves can a family of four realistically eat? The next step would be to create storage space for this amount only, and once I hit the quota for tomato relish then I either need to stop making it or use them to bless others, provided they return the jars!
It is all about making the garden work for me, providing me with what I need. I have become a slave to my garden and it is such a hard task master, demanding that nothing grown goes to waste. Once I have my Preservation List firmly attached to the inside of a cupboard, I need to take a further step into the real root of the problem – sowing the seeds. I need a list there of how many plants is the right amount to keep us in home grown produce without verging into the gluttonous.
I can’t do anything about the many fruit trees I already have, and in a few years I will be awash with more fruit than I know what to do with. This season is just a preview of how good fresh fruit actually tastes. I really shouldn’t plant more trees, but then I want to pop in one more plum to ensure I have all pollination possibilities covered and you can never have too many feijoas, right?
But now I need to decide how to deal to the tomatoes that have replaced the ones that were sitting in the kitchen a few days ago demanding to be turned into relish. These ones seem to be asking to be juiced. Bloody Mary’s anyone? Chin chin.
And I need to get Hubby the Un-Gardener to look at the prickles in my feet. Sadly I’m not as flexible as I once was and accessing the soles of my feet has become next to impossible.
Come again soon – how many ways are there to process Sweetcorn?
Sarah the Gardener : o )