Tuesday 18 October 2011

Playing catch up

Scarlet wilding apples from an apple core discarded 30 or more years before . . .

Well, much as I wanted to, I didn't go to my spinning/weaving group as I was so behind here so I had a catch-up day, and as I have pretty well ticked everything on the immediate list, so I am very pleased with myself. The day began with a walk up the valley - about 1 1/2 miles in all - I'd have gone further but I had a long mental list of jobs for the day.

I started by making crab apple jelly from the 9 lbs or so I had left of the fruit I picked in the New Forest when we were there recently. I had cut the fruit up and cooked it a couple of days ago and let it drip through the jelly bag overnight. Then it had sat on the stove in a pan with a lid on, reminding me it needed doing. I got about 4 1/2 lbs yield, which doesn't seem much from such a lot of fruit and sugar, but crab apples aren't juicy, although they make divine jelly. Whilst I was washing and sterilizing the bottles for the jam, I took another box of bottles I'd been given and soaked the labels off and they are dried and stored away for the next session.

Then, as I drank a mid-morning cup of tea, I peeled and salted the 2nd half of the pickling onions and have them waiting overnight before I wash them off tomorrow and bottle them using the spiced vinegar I made this afternoon. I think I will probably buy some more onions and bottle them up, so I have a full year's supply (I'm the only one who eats them).

Next it was the wine which needed sorting out. I searched for demi-johns first, but then realized I had recycled half a dozen last summer when we were having a clear out and I thought I would be cutting right back on wine-making as I haven't done much in recent years. Wrong move! However, during my search I found a brand new but dusty 5 gallon plastic fermentation bin (you just fit an airlock) so took that indoors to be thoroughly washed and sterilized. Into that was carefully racked and decanted 3 gallons of gooseberry wine, which is still working but sat on lees which is not a good thing.

Then of course I had to thoroughly clean and sterilize the three demijohns, as I had two further demijohns of Damson wine to rack. So I did that, and washed the other two d-j's. Then it was the turn of the crab apple wine in the wine bucket, which had to have the fruit removed and then be poured through a straining bag to remove all the pips and bits. That is now mixed with sugar and yeast and will be soon be bubbling away. I feel like an alchemist when I make wine! All that took me 2 hours, which was a lot longer than I anticipated.

I made a batch of spiced vinegar for the picked onions, and as it cooled, I put tonight's chicken in the oven to start roasting, and went outside to put the 11 white Geraniums I'd had in a border to overwinter inside (down in mum's). The needed to come in before the first frost.

Then I peeled spuds for the roast, and prepared the vegetables and Yorkshire pudding mix, peeled and cooked up 8 apples for a crumble, made the crumble mix, and cooked it.

So that's crab apple jelly done; pickled onions done; wine done; several lots of washing up done; roast dinner and apple crumble done; Geraniums potted done. I think I have earned a beer tonight!


  1. I think you have earned whatever you want this evening--including to be waited upon royally!
    Here I'm putting up green and yellow string beans tonight--got them picked this morning under a lowering sky---thunderstorms and hard rain in late afternoon and evening, so glad to have done my garden work in a timely way.
    Wine-making sounds like a perilous process---is one guaranteed a good batch if all the steps are followed?

  2. As long as the vinegar fly doesn't get in!!! Some wines are better than others - I'm a bit haphazard as I don't check for specific gravity or anything, and some wines are too sweet for my palate. Crab Apple and Gooseberry have been the best successes. My mum's best one was always Plum, and Danny swears by my Blackberry . . . Some have, I must confess, been undrinkable, especially 3 recipes calling for tinned fruit as the base. Yuk!

  3. Eleven out of ten for effort BB, as my grand-daughter used to say! You remind me that I must get the sloes picked to have a go at sloe jelly.