Cabbage Caterpillars

Cabbage CaterpillarsCabbage Caterpillars

Pests! For some reason this year caterpillars have decided to invade our crop. We hadn’t ever had a problem with them before, and we had even gone to the effort of covering the crop with white net to stop the white fly we usually get. Maybe it was the weather this year but we had hundreds of them. Unfortunately we had so many hiding in the heads of the broccoli and cauliflowers when they did grow that they were inedible :(

Grape Jam

What do you do with 4+ kilos of home grown and slightly undersized grapes? Make jam of course!

Grapes

Well that was the plan. It possibly wasnt the best idea we had ever had. A grape cake or dessert may have been a bit quicker. However the final product was well worth it. It turns out Grape jam is really delicious if you are prepared to put in the time. (1 weekend and 3 evenings  it took us)

For every kilo of grapes you will need 500g of jam sugar (with pectin). We made our jam in 1 kilo batches because I read somewhere it makes setting easier.

The first step of making the jam is to remove the seeds. The best way of doing this is to peel the grapes and boil the skins and flesh in separate saucepans, adding 500ml of water to the skins. After a little while the flesh will seperate from the seeds and then you will be able to sieve them to remove them.  Our type of grapes popped out of their skins with a little pinch. This was by far the most time consuming part.

Next mix the flesh and the skins (you may wish to blend the skins a little to make them smaller) back together and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the sugar. Once it has all disolved bring the mixture back to the boil.

The hardest part is getting the right thickness. Keep boiling the jam until it reaches the right consistency. This can be checked by placing a little of the mixture on a cold plate and placing it in the freezer for a minute. If its done it will gather up when you push your finger into it. Out of the 4 batches I only managed to get this right once. The other batches had to be reboiled the next day or became a little too thick!

Making Jam

And here is the final product. 24 jars of jam in total (15 jars below).  I still to need to make some pretty labels but other wise we are really pleased with how they turned out.

Grape Jam

Chillies

Despite the strange summer weather we have had this year. We have managed to grow lots and lots of chillies. We plan to freeze some and dry some for adding to spicy dishes throughout the year.

chillies

Pumpkins and Squashes

I have to say our pumpkins were a little disappointing this year. After a head start under cloches they seemed to stop growing quite early on in the season. I am not sure if the mild summer is the cause but we had dead plants and ripe pumpkins ready to pick at the end of August. Our butternut squashes and summer squashes on the other hand have performed quite well.

Tomato Glut!

We kind of went a little overboard with our tomatoes this year. We grew several hanging baskets, several grow bags and several tubs. Far too many for us to eat all in one go. Below is a recipe for making a tomato pasta sauce. We used all cherry tomatoes, both red and yellow so our sauce turned out a little orange rather than red. Its tasty all the same though.

tomatoes

Ingredients
As many tomatoes as you can fit in a tin. Chopped up into halves or quarters
A large onion, chopped
3 Cloves of garlic
Basil and Oregano

Instructions
Place all the ingredients in a roasting tin with a little olive oil and cook in the oven for about 30-40mins until soft.
Strain off any excess liquid and then blast them in a food processor.
Season if needed.

Grapes

Our grapes are well on their way to ripening. We are hoping to protect them a bit better this year. Last year we lost the whole lot one morning to cheeky little birds.

Pickled Onions & Beetroot

We decided to try our hand at pickling a few different types of onions. Like our garlic they looked like a few of them were starting to get a little mouldy so we pulled them up early to save what we could and binned the rest.

Here are the results

pickled onions

We made 3 different onion variations: Chilli Shallots, Balsamic Onions, Traditional pickled (red) onions. The picture also shows some pickled beetroot we used a basic pickling recipe for this too.

My favourite is definitely the balsamic onions. The others are ok but maybe a little acidic. Next time I think we will add a little sugar :)

Courgette and Mushroom Bread

At the weekend I got busy baking a loaf of courgette and mushroom bread. It was very tasty! I recommend it to anyone with a glut of courgettes. I only needed to add half of the amount of recommended water and needed quite a bit more flour whilst kneading. So you might wish to bear that in mind.