While we were far away on our road trip last year, sometimes I'd try to visualise my life back home. I'd try to imagine what I would be doing and how I might be feeling. And for some reason I always had the same picture in my head. I always imagined myself right in the heart and heat of preserving time.
I imagined myself in my kitchen, wearing an apron, surrounded by buckets and baskets of produce, stirring pots and peeling and coring and deseeding fruit and vegetables and slowly filling jars and containers with summery goodness.
I'm here. That picture is now. Right now, my life is almost all about preserving. Preserving summer so we can feel it's warmth and abundance in winter.
Life right now is picking and gathering the fruit and berries from the orchard. It's about washing and weighing. It's about freezing and cooking and dehydrating and pureeing and straining. It's about jams and relishes and chutneys and syrups.
There are lots of preserving books on our kitchen table. Some recipes and techniques we know by heart from years gone by, and others we are learning as we go. We are not experts. Far from it. We've had a few mishaps already this year, but plenty of successes too. (Who knew you could only use those Fowlers preserving rings once?)
These are the books we've got on our kitchen table at the moment:
The River Cottage Family Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Secrets of Successful Preserving by Fowlers Vacola.
Fowler's Method of Bottling Fruits and Vegetables by J. Fowler.
Wonderful ways to prepare preserves by Ayers and James.
Preserves by Pam Corbin.
The cook's companion by Stephanie Alexander.
The Permaculture Book of Ferment & Human Nutrition by Bill Mollison.
Homemade Jams and Preserves by Family Circle.
The River Cottage Year by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Home Freezer Cook Book by Good Housekeeping
My life right now is sticky and pink.
Are you right into preserving season at the moment?
Are you making jam or bottling tomatoes?
Are your fingers stained red?
Or are you on the other side of the world, dipping into your stores?
Do you have memories of preserving with your parents and grandparents? Pulling the elastic bands onto the Fowlers jars and clipping on the clips?
Do you love the look of jars filled with colourful jarred produce as much as I do?
Don't you agree that a gifted jar of homemade jam is the best present ever?
Or is preserving something you would like to try but haven't? If this is the case, then please do. It is such fun. Get some books, pick some produce or buy some from your local farmers' market, get your hands on some jars and get right into it. You'll love preserving, I'm certain. We sure do.
Happy, sweet days.
ps. funny how in my preserving fantasy my kitchen was sparkly clean, the dishes were always done and my apron was frilly and spotless...reality, not so much.