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.
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 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.
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.
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.