Thursday 26 September 2013

Damson mania

My hubby has transformed 40lbs of damsons into damson vodka, damson cheese, damson jam & damson & apple jam! There's still loads on the tree. Last year we had hardly any so are stocking up for possible famine again next year.

Had a struggle to find enough jars and lids and had to buy new lids (from  - very quick delivery and the only place I could find click top lids which suck down when the jam cools and stays down unless the seal is broken) for the boxes of used jam jars collected from various sources.

son & Apple Jam label
Jam label

Monday 16 September 2013

Crab Apple Jelly

No time to blog over the last week or so. The garden is in full production and it's a full time job harvesting and then processing the fruit & veg ready for storage or immediate consumption.

A big producer this year is our Crab Apple Tree. Last year we really thought it had died. The tiny fruits dried up and fell off as did all the leaves during the summer. Early this spring, before the flowers came out, I sprayed it with an organic fruit tree wash in case the problem was an aphid or moth or bacterium. Anyway, whatever the problem last year, this year the tree is loaded with beautiful yellow and red fruits.

We've made two batches of Crab Apple Jelly so far - 10 jars of plain jelly (beautiful, clear ruby-red), 4 with sage and 4 with rosemary. The jelly with herbs is great with roast pork, lamb or cheese.

Ripe crab apples on the tree
Crab apples chopped and cooking in the pan

Crab Apple Jelly in jars - we used coffee jars.

We also made Marrow & Apple Chutney which is a great favourite.


Monday 2 September 2013


Squashes and a marrow from Froggarts Cottage Garden
Last year I saved seeds from an enormous shop-bought butternut squash and sowed them this spring. All the seeds germinated and have thrived in the veg bed after planting out.

The plants are enormous and have produced a good collection of fruit. Some are rugby-ball sized, weighing 5 - 6 lbs, yellow with green stripes, or pale green with dark green stripes. Not a butternut squash to be seen!

The commercial growers (in Italy or South Africa - can't remember) obviously used F1 seeds which are hybrids. The seeds are produced by carefully cross-pollinating two or more different varieties to produce squashes with desirable qualities. The seeds from the off-spring of F1 plants are rarely like their parents. In our case they had obviously used a variety of squash bred for SIZE!

Here's a bit about F1 hybrid seeds and plants >>

Anyway our super-squashes are fairly tasty - yellow rather than orange-fleshed like a proper butternut squash - and have been roasted and made into soup. The small fruits can be used like courgettes - fried, baked, stuffed whatever.