Monthly Archives: November 2009

Lemon Marmalade and Green Tomato and Chilli Chutney

Today I made lemon marmalade. I had acquired a couple of kilos of lemons from a large retail outlet, at a bargain price, and I had to use them up before they went off. I adapted the recipe for lemon and ginger marmalade I had made last autumn – very warming and spicy and nearly all gone by now. As usual I took my eye off the pot whilst I had lunch and it boiled over! But never mind, I am sure the results are worth it.lemon marmalade

It has been a productive year on the preserving front – I pickled some onions, made Onion Marmalade, green tomato and chilli chutney from the produce in the greenhouse, raspberry jam from our first crop of raspberries, and concocted various batches of herb oils and vinegars. I also froze several batches of runner and broad beans. I need to get a large earthenware crock so that next year I can preserve the runner beans in salt as my grandma taught me.

onion marmaladegreen tomato and chilli chutneyraspberry jam

Lemon marmalade recipe:

1.2 kg lemons

1.2 litres water

900g granulated sugar

Quarter the lemons and slice as thinly as possible across the quarters, putting any pips you encounter into a muslin bag. Tie the muslin bag up and put in the preserving pan with the lemon slices and the water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours, or until the fruit is soft. Allow to cool slightly and remove the bag of pips, squeezing to extract as much of the pectin as possible. Add the sugar to the pan and boil until setting point is reached (5-10 minutes or 105 degrees Celsius); remove from the heat and pour into warmed jars; put lids on the jars whilst they are hot. Tangy!

Green Tomato and Chilli Chutney Recipe

1 kg of green tomatoes (or however many you have rescued from the plants; I always have loads left because our summers are never long or sunny enough to ripen all of the fruits)

2 medium-sized apples

500g soft brown sugar

500 ml malt vinegar

125 g raisins or sultanas

300 g shallots

small piece of fresh root ginger

As many chillies as you like (minimum 3; chillies do very well for me in the greenhouse, and this year I grew three different varieties: Jalapeño, Iranian Round, and Wenk’s Yellow Hot, all of which were prolific)

Wash the tomatoes, slice the chillies (and deseed if you are not feeling quite that brave!), finely grate the ginger, core the apples, peel the shallots. Chop the tomatoes, apples and shallots so that they are reasonably chunky but not mushy – I use one of those manual chopping machines, but you could use a food processor or just do it by hand. Put all of the ingredients into the preserving pan and stir well whilst the mixture heats up to boiling point, making sure that the sugar has all dissolved, then turn down the heat to a simmer and just leave it, stirring occasionally to make sure it does not stick. This could take at least an hour; it is ready when it looks like jam! Spoon into warmed jars and tighten the lids. Once cooled the jars can be stored in a cupboard, but once opened they should be kept in a fridge. Absolutely delicious with cheese!





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A wet and windy day

Well, it is November, so I suppose you can’t expect too much; but yesterday, the sun shone, and in the shelter of the hawthorn bushes it almost felt like summer. Today the chooks are clinging to the ground and walking sideways to avoid being blown over. Yesterday, we trimmed back the hawthorns in preparation for the fox-proof (we hope!) fence being built in the coming weeks. This will give our six ladies a large, sheltered area safe from predators and allow us to enlarge the flock next spring. We have kept hens for over two years now, starting with three black rocks and expanding six months later with  two bluebells and a warren. It was love at first sight for me. They are very engaging birds, and I delight in watching their daily routines, their squabbles, the way they preen themselves, the hilarious flapping run up the drive to keep up with the leader, their dependence on each other as well as their independence. They are under my feet when I dig in the garden, and follow me to the kitchen door in the hope of getting a handful of sunflower seeds as a treat. They love dustbaths in shady places in summer and hate winter snow. Last winter the snow was so deep that they sank into it, and after the first foray refused to come out of the henhouse until we had cleared a path for them. I had the dubious pleasure of Dolly climbing onto my shoulder to avoid having to put her feet in the snow.

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Hello world!

This blog is going to be a bit of a jumble sale. My other half says I have too many hobbies, they are taking over the house, and I no sooner get to be good at something than I am looking for the next new interest – and he is right! But some interests do stand the test of time, and these I find are the ones I learnt early on in life.

Cooking; my grandma was a cook at one of the big houses in the next village, long before I was born. I remember the summer holidays from school, helping grandad in the vegetable garden harvesting beans and then helping grandma to preserve them in a vast earthenware crock layered with salt; or picking plums from the Victoria tree and helping her bottle them in Kilner jars.

Knitting; both of my grandmas and my mum were knitters and it was a skill I learned at an early age. I do not remember wearing a shop-bought jumper until I was in my twenties. I subsequently went on to learn crochet, clothes-making (even tailoring suits and shirts), embroidery and needlepoint, blackwork, fabric dying, patchwork, quilting – indeed anything to do with fabric and the decoration of home and person.

Chickens; the chickens my grandparents kept during and after the war were long gone by the time I arrived on the scene, but I remember tales of the fantastic eggs they gave. When I got a little patch of land I wanted some hens too.





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