Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Another kind of transition.
We have had some fine days since our return and they have been spent in battle with the weeds since the garden needs to be fairly under control so that on future fine days, if we get any, attention can be paid to house repairs and painting which two wet summers have delayed.
On a couple of wet days I set to tidying up some of the clutter round the house. I have to admit that being born into a bombed out city after the second world war where everything had to be repaired or recycled, there was no choice, affected me. My parents built a single story home using about half recycled materials, weeks were spent chipping old mortar off bricks or bitumen off oak flooring blocks. My play pen was the building site, often the foundations or half walled rooms. Watching the process obviously imprinted on my brain that materials have worth and cannot be casually thrown away and much of this house has been repaired with other people's throw outs. Yesterday I was pressure washing my friend's fancy teak garden furniture so that it can be smartened up and be ready when one of them is recuperating after a gall stone operation, they had a solid hardwood worktop and a teak draining board ready to be skipped sitting in the drive! They are now in the back of the van...
Whilst sorting through my treasure I came across a box of jam jars, my favourite Bonne Maman, which unlike the standard british jars, allow you to get at all the contents. These jars had been missing for ages and with luck the very next day strawberries were on offer at the lowest price seen for years, I bought fourteen boxes...
Naturally we ate as many as we could but covered over nine pounds with sugar overnight, would have been ten but Julie was watching me hull the fruit and sorted out the ripest... Well, slightly unripe are best for jam, these were slightly more ripe than if I had picked them myself but that has now become too expensive if all you want to do is make jam.
This load was just about an ideal batch for our jam cauldron. Once I was sure that the sugar was all dissolved in went the juice from six lemons and the heat went up and a frothy rolling boil set.
This is foodie p*********y, the house smelt heavenly... A lump of butter at the end settles the froth while the mix is allowed to cool for quarter of an hour so that the fruit pieces do not just settle on the top of the pots.
It has been a long time since we made strawberry jam, plenty of others from our own fruit but apart from tiny wild strawberries which grow like weeds here I have never had much luck with growing them myself. The result is delicious and will require willpower to resist...