Finally, finally today the grass dried out enough (well, almost) to make it feasible to do the mowing. I was hoping the resident mowers (aka our 6 sheep) would come to the rescue, but with full bellies and a complacent look in their eye after eating a large amount of leaves from the olive tree, they have only managed to keep some areas down.
All the mowing was finished safely enough, despite a few interesting and unintended slides and spins on the mower here and there.
Next project was to visit the ‘freezer garden’. I’d discovered several kilos of raspberries when I sorted through a couple of days ago, and lots and lots of gooseberries.
Of course there’s not a lot not to like about spending the afternoon in the cooking school kitchen with Carmichael (the old wood stove) alight.
It was interesting turning the raspberries out into the jam pans – they had come from different sources. Westerway Raspberry Farm’s were a darker, richer red, a Lachlan farm’s a lighter colour with larger but less pips, and our own patch’s crop with even more vibrant colour and medium amount of pips. Purely academic I know, but interesting – they made different colour jams too with subtle variations in flavour.
The gooseberries – well, see for yourself in the photo.
They all needed to be topped and tailed.
Following the principle of the journey of a thousand miles beginning with the first step, I somewhat reluctantly set to work.
If I felt it was tedious, I reminded myself of the native lady on Lifou where we visited a vanilla plantation. Each vanilla bean, in the final stages before packaging, needs to be massaged to distribute the seeds evenly throughout the pods. She could do 2,000 per day – no complaints – and this with a new baby and a toddler in tow.
OK, so I did the gooseberries in batches like this – top and tail 50, stir the simmering raspberries, top and tail another 50, stir again, another 50, add sugar to jam and stir, plus 50, stir and so on.
In all there were 611 gooseberries (!), enough for a batch of jam and some to stew to bake gooseberry tarts.
All this time old Carmichael never missed a beat. The room was filled with warmth and some pretty amazing aromas, especially as I was able to cook a spiced meat mixture for an experimental bread at the same time.
By the end of this afternoon’s boilings, there’s now enough jam to share around the family, and some to put out on the stall at our gate tomorrow, both raspberry and gooseberry. It’ll be there from 8.30am – I’ll top up stock of other preserves too.