I've been really lucky this year with friends offering me fruit from their gardens. Juicy plums have been turned into pie filling for the freezer whilst my daughters made a delicious plum sponge. Apples, pears and damsons have been turned into crumbles and muffins and apple cake and yet more pie fillings. My freezer is beginning to look full of the promise of warming desserts to see us through the cold winter months.
Often, my kitchen will look like this...
...but the chickens enjoy picking over the waste before it finds its way into the compost bin.
I have a grape vine in my greenhouse and the crop of grapes this year has been the best yet.
The children aren't too keen on eating them because they are not seedless so I set about making some Grape Jelly. I found the recipe on the BBC Good Food website which is rapidly becoming my first port of call when I need inspiration. My father in law, who was staying with us at the time, kindly helped me in the kitchen and between us we made a beautiful bright red jelly with a gorgeous flavour and good set. The only disaster that we had (and it was a pretty major disaster) was that my one jar cracked when we poured the jelly in. We improvised and used a pyrex jug instead. It was the best solution at the time but it has been inconvenient not having my jug available to use and does not quite have the 'homemade jam' charm when brought to the table! On the plus side, the jelly is disappearing rapidly (delicious with scones) so my jar will be back in my cupboard soon.
I made a second batch of the jelly when I had collected some more jars. I hoped that I could save a jar to have with croissants for our Christmas day breakfast. I heated and mashed the washed fruit to release the juice and sieved it overnight through muslin.
I boiled it with Jam Sugar and lemon juice until it reached 105º on a sugar thermometer. I poured it into my jars which didn't crack this time. It had the same fantastic colour. It smelt divine. It totally refused to set!
I need my father in law back.
I may not have my Christmas day jam but I do have some rather tasty grape sauce - perfect for pouring over icecream.