RELISHING AUTUMN April 22 2015, 3 Comments
EG's Stephanie Wapling, relishes the challenge of the seasonal glut.
Every new season brings new labours and Autumn came this year with its share of enjoyable challenges. Everything fruited more than any other year since I moved to the country and we were inundated. We had Japanese plums by the bucket load and berries for weeks. I took a bag of plums into the Earth Garden office only for my workmates to put up their hands and say “No! I don’t have time to deal with any more fruit!”
I never thought such abundance could create so much pressure. When I left the city five years ago, working in the high pressure fashion industry I envisioned a slower pace and a more casual schedule. Golden light through the trees while I breathed deeply and enjoyed the greenery and all that ... I did not foresee the stress of trying to preserve kilos of fruit before it spoiled and fruit flies took over my household! I have had every saucepan I own on the stove at once and badgered all my friends for empty jars. The added pressure of a toddler in the kitchen whilst trying to sterilize said jars was quite a juggle.
But we persevered and we have triumphed! I have my stores filled with apple sauce, apricot jam, plum jam, bottled nashis and pear and ginger compote. We even tried our hand at making wine and have blackberry wine and plum wine fermenting away. We have enough plum paste for dozens of cheese platters (did I mention we had a lot of plums?)
My last endeavor was THE beetroot. My friend dropped around a beetroot as large as my child’s head! What was I to do with it? I chose a recipe that would use it all at once and it just so happened to use all my remaining jars. This mammoth specimen weighed in at 2.7kgs and made 17 jars of delicious relish! Simple to make, versatile to use and I have found it makes a great gift. This is a recipe that I altered to suit what I had on hand.
2.5kgs grated beetroot
2 brown onion diced
2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
4 tsp yellow mustard seeds
2 tsp nigella seeds
3 cups golden castor sugar
4 whole cloves
Rind of a lemon
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Enough water to almost cover
Fry seeds in a little oil until fragrant, add everything else, cook until beetroot has softened and liquid has thickened slightly. It’s ready whenever it is to your taste; I’m not big on following recipes! Pour into sterilised jars, seal and let cool.