Sunday, 9 October 2011

The joy of jam......and daisies

I utterly love daisies. Beautiful, simple, perfect.
Took this lovely photo of a daisy today on a garden visit, how beautiful are daisies, they are my favourite flower I think they are perfect. And, talking of beautiful, almost perfect things, Mr Flowers, arrived back, somewhat earlier than anticipated up to the windswept homestead, catching me with the wholesale catalogue in hand, lolling on the sofa, looking at fruit trees. Its hard core fun here, what can I tell you! Well, when the weathers the way its been over the last wee while, arm chair gardening is as good as it gets 'til the polytunnel is up. In the mean time, I'm fantasy gardening, pad of paper in hand, catalogues out, plan of tunnel on paper and thinking how I'll select fruit and then veg for the tunnel, where it won't matter if the wind blows hard, I can still garden.

We're planning on feeding ourselves from that covered garden and we're going to do that for utterly everything fruit and veg wise we like to eat. Well almost everything, lets face facts, I doubt a banana will grow well with us, (although they do grow in Iceland in their geo-thermal greenhouses) I doubt I'll manage to grow a coffee tree, nor a cocoa tree in time to produce those products before I'm very old. And, dear reader, let me tell you I'm already *quite* old. Therefore the plan to enhance the wish for an almost pure 'Orkney diet' is to try and grow everything we possibly can and reduce the shop bought fruit and veg as much as is practical. Without going insane and being deprived of coffee and bananas and chocolate - we'll buy what we can't grow. Well thats the plan, up here in the frozen north, a good life garden, under cover in a polytunnel to attempt to grow more things than we could in our climate and for longer.
Jam, scruffy but tasty. Local real food doesn't have to be perfect, to taste gorgeous.
For feeding ourselves from the garden, we've managed more this year than last year, which is progress. We've even made jam this year from home grown fruit and from local foraged fruit. Thus far four types (about 5-6 jars of each) lurk in the cupboards. These are not perfect text book, magazine pretty jams, just jam in recycled jars, often with scruffy labels or their contents written on in garden pen, on the lid, lifes often a bit rushed and just cos we cant do it perfectly, doesn't mean we can't do it all the same. The contents of the jars is what's important and having a go - lifes not perfect, if your jam jar is a bit scruffy, as long as its clean, who cares? As, to be fair lifes not perfect, and neither, it would appear, is the audience here. My family are a bit fickle, to say the least. With this in mind, thus far I've managed to make 4 types of jam [strawberry, bramble, raspberry, elderberry) or 5 if you count chilli jam I made for me, (the ficklest of all). Basic recipe is one pound of fruit to one pound of sugar, or one pint of fruity liquid to one pound of sugar, boil gently until a set is achieved.
I've said previously the family are, quite rightly, my feircest critics. We've a family of jam lovers, except me (the ficklest of all, I don't have a sweet tooth), I do like spicy though, therefore I've made myself 5 jars of chilli 'jam' for adding to savoury dishes. Whilst the rest of them all have their favourites, strawberry jam is usually dismissed in this house due to 'lumps' (fruit) this is a bit of a pity as its a quite easy fruit to grow here - HA foiled them this year I've blitzed the strawberry jam and now its got the same texture as raspberry, lump free. One hurdle over come.  Aside the 'lumpy fruitness' of my normal jam, now blitzed by hand held processor in to zero pulpdome, the jam most craved here is raspberry. Its a firm favourite of Mr F, who's opinon is, 'why eat other jam if you can eat raspberry'. I think he needs to broaden his horizons, lifes going to be a bit boring if we only ever grow raspberries! Therefore he's open to new things, just as well eh? We had the great jam taste test today..........
Left to right (top) strawberry, bramble (unset) jams
then, raspberry jam, elderflower jelly.
All jams/jellies had a good texture although the bramble didn't set too well, better luck next year.....The strawberry is loved by the cellist who's warned me not to make too much as she'll get sick of it. Righto, got me orders there. Bramble jam is well accepted, although its runnieness noted, not much good for a decent piece (scottish word for a sandwich). Again, noted. The elderberry jelly has been viewed with trepidation, the cordial so well recieved earlier in the season, could the jelly of the berry be any good? I think the texture of it and the colour is stunning, it set well and aside a rather purple pair of hands for a day when dealing with it and a purple tea towel from straining it, I think its worth the bother. Its got a big thumbs up from me certainly, I think I'll use it alot in cooking, although it would be lovely on a scone. Its a taste not unlike brambles, but hints of elderflowers. Darn site easier to pick as well! I'll be trying that again.

Mr Flowers however, whilst receptive to all these new treats, has given the double thumbs up to the raspberry jam. He's just too much of a fan of it to see past it. Lucky for me raspberries do grow well here! I'll have to ration the rotation of the jam otherwise I can see the reds going before the others!
When not eating a jammy piece, raspberry of course, Mr Flowers enjoys playing one of his several guitars, scoffing my lovely home made elderflower cordial and having recently had a quite serious mountiain biking injury (bust shoulder) in Canada, isn't out on any of his bikes at all at the moment. All the more time to eat jammy pieces he informs me. Better make sure I get a good selection of raspberries for the polytunnel garden hadn't I? I read a brilliant article about autumn fruiting types I quite like to grow as they are less fussy than the normal ones. And for how to make the harvest even better, I got brilliant information from a great blog (thank you) about seasonal food and growing 'My Tiny Plot'.....Here why don't you pop over and check it out if you like.

Ps, we've reached the heady heights of 99 followers - I'd never have thought that possible and I'd like to say a big thank you for popping by, every one of you. x Jam all round I say!


  1. As Meg Ryan said in "You've Got Mail"..."Don't you think Daisies are the friendliest flower"

    I agree, I love them!

  2. I think your adventures growing in the poly-tunnel are awesome! I'm looking forward to following along.
    Cheers, Jenni

  3. Hooray for jam! And daisies too of course :)

    (and I just became your 100th follower - couldn't resist! Only just realised how to do it...)

  4. Nom Nom Nom, lots of jars of home made jams lined up in the cupboard makes you feel lovely, especially when it's made with your own or foraged fruits :) I made elderberry and apple jam last week and it's delish :)

  5. All sounds most tempting, I'd say. Love the idea of Chilli too......a firm favourite of mine and my first season's attempts at growing them has been w success with a great crop. I'm really rather chuffed! The polytunnel will be interesting to follow. When we were up in the frozen North of Sweden, we had a greenhouse. It was strange to see the way some things did really well in it while others barely survived. We put it down to the 23.5 hours of daylight in summer and the strangeness of the lighting conditions which presumably had an effect on growing. Also the severe winters didn't give us much opportunity then......not much survives minus 40 temps! Although, like you, berries and some fruits managed to thrive!

  6. Cant wait till you get yer poly tunnel erected especially if its gan tae gae mair talk oh jammie pieces.

  7. Not a follower, but I've had you subscribed in my reader for a while now ;~)

  8. Elephants eye thank you, I knew you had been keeping a keen eye, and I appreciate it!

    Yer actual. It's a quandary isn't it, insane weather, ridiculus long days in summer of 23 hours (here) of summer. It's interesting. We don't have the range of hot to cold, a balmy average of 10 degrees all year around, hardly get a cold snap, although we have the past few winters...... Chilli jam is very lovely I can post a recipe but it's mainly guess work!

  9. Alistair, yer a fan o the jam ie piece? I'll get a loaf oot. Will be fun in there, the tunnel, I'm having a garden as well as veg and fruit.. Taking alot of your recommendations on board!

    Dreamer, lovely to see you. I'll get there now the pesky phd over with!

    Cheery how lovely you are 100, ido love daisies, I guess the ta le cloth gives it away? Xx

    Jenni I'm so excited, I really can't wait, I'm glad you are following too!

    Anne I love that movie. Daisies are such fun, cheerful and simple. I love them! Glad you do too!

  10. I love that movie too. But one of my favourite movies is Dont Eat the Daisies by Doris Day. Now I have been singing that all day since reading your blog post

  11. What another excellent film and song! Thanks for reminding me. :)

  12. Just want to point out that Mr F is absolutely right, why bother with anything other than raspberry jam. Mind you, for me that always meant my Nan's raspberry jam, and I still remember opening and eating the very last jar ever, about two years after she died. I still harbour dreams of growing enough raspberries to make my own, which will start me on a life-long quest to make jam as good as hers was. Nice job on the preserving front, and I'm glad I am not the only one to have scruffily labelled jars of loveliness. It is the insides that matter, after all...