It is finally year 3 of growing our asparagus so we have harvested our first batch. Yummy. It is also the season for broccoli and this year we have had a really nice batch.
Mangetout are in season and we have a nice little crop to munch through.
We have had hundreds of strawberries again this year, so we decided to give ice cream making a shot!
The recipe we followed was the simplest we could find: http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/513193
Its year two of our asparagus and they already look good enough to pick. Grown from seed they require three years to mature, so this time next year they will be on our plate!
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 🙁
This year we decided to give Rooster potatoes a go. Here is the rewards from a one of our plants.
Raspberries & Nectarines
The weather hasn’t been great for vegetables or fruit this year, but we still got some! It was the first year we had grown Nectarines and although quite small they tasted great!
Not only do we have a lot of gooseberries but strawberries are ripening in their hundreds. I made a strawberry sponge cake with some of them.
We have lots of gooseberries this year. Google tells me that you need to pick half of the berries early for pies & jams and then leave the remainder to fatten up and ripen fully. So we picked half of the crop and made mini gooseberry crumbles.
As the summer approaches… well lack of it really, some of our early crops are ready to harvest. Spinach is one of them, and here is what we made with it.
What do you do with 4+ kilos of home grown and slightly undersized grapes? Make jam of course!
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!
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.
We were given some Pears last weekend, so we decided to try out this recipe:
Its very addictive and makes enough for 10-12 people, so maybe make it to share:)
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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 🙂
A quick snack to use up some of our broccoli…
Recipe for Tempura Batter : http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/451626/tempura-batter
Our latest pickings include Broccoli and Cucumbers…
We are struggling to get our broccoli to have large heads though. There must be some trick to it! But it tastes great all the same 🙂