Hi every body (including my Dad; nice to have a comment from you!)
Someone requested a baby update last week so here it is: I am now 31 weeks pregnant. Everything is perfectly normal so far and I can feel his feet and elbows sticking into me on a regular basis. He is going to be born at Ashford Private Hospital. I am planning on being a stay at home Mum. Matthew is going to be a stay at home Dad for the first 8 weeks. If you ask me about names I will give you a suitably vague reply. Names and the date of the scheduled caesarean are a secret! Okay?
WHY BOTHER WITH GROWING AND PRESERVING FRUIT
Over the last couple of weeks I have been dealing with our apricot harvest. Our small tree gave us about 5 kilograms of fruit. Not bad for a 5 year old tree. We watered it regularly while the fruit was forming so each apricot was perfectly delicious and juicy. Yum! We now have in the cupboard 12 jars of golden orange jam and 8 jars of bottled halves in sugar syrup.
Seems like a lot of work though, doesn’t it? I guess it is a fair bit of work and takes a fair bit of time sitting at the table slicing kilos of apricots, boiling up jam, putting the halves neatly into bottles, watching over the bottles so they stay at the right temperature for the required amount of time, not to mention the slight anxiety felt over whether the jam will set or not or the bottles stay sealed or not. Is it worth it? I think it is for a few different reasons.
Taste: I’m sorry but you just can’t buy apricot jam that tastes as good as homemade jam from homegrown apricots. Just starting with a superior raw material makes a huge difference. Even if you buy apricots to make jam it will still taste better then supermarket jam. Bottled apricot halves from homegrown apricots may look the same as tinned apricots but that is where the similarities end. Homegrown apricots bottled in a light sugar syrup (or fruit juice if you prefer) taste exquisite, not an adjective used to describe even the best tinned halves. Aside from all the fantastic fruit you can eat straight from the tree, homemade jam and bottled apricots are are very tasty way of using the fruit all year round.
Food Miles: “Food miles” seems to be a fashionable thing to talk about at the moment. It is a serious issue though. Lots and lots of the food we eat is trucked thousands of kilometres in carbon burning, fossil fuel using semi trailers. The more food we eat that comes from our local area the better in terms of the environment and also in terms of taste and quality. Tomatoes that are grown in Queensland and eaten in Adelaide have to be tough to survive the journey and tough they are. The same goes for strawberries from WA. Fruit that comes from your own backyard is very low in “food miles”. Yes you may have to buy sugar from Queensland to make jam in Adelaide but it’s still better than having that sugar go to NSW to make the jam then have the jars of jam trucked to Adelaide. We live in a perfect stone-fruit-growing area; why on earth should we buy stone fruit in a tin from Victoria? (Let me stress that some things just can’t be grown in our local area. I consider coffee and sugar to be essential items and I’m happy to have them trucked from Queensland, or Ethiopia or wherever our coffee comes from. Queenslanders of course will have other items that need to be brought from the southern states and so on for whatever area you live in.)
No additives: my jam has three ingredients: fruit, sugar and pectin. Pectin is a natural ingredient found in fruit anyway and helps jam to set. My bottled fruit also has three ingredients: fruit, water and sugar. No colours, no flavours, no preservatives, no mysterious numbers, none of those strange things that make many children behave strangely.
Fun: I actually enjoy making jam and bottling fruit. They are not difficult skills to master and give a great feeling of satisfaction when you see the jars lined up in your cupboard.
Our peaches will be ready soon, the tomatoes too…