Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Seasonal pickings: Preserving autumn crops

Solaris and Siegerrebe grapes harvested
Solaris and Siegerrebe grapes harvested

After a season of rich pickings, it’s time for John Stoa to preserve his autumn crops.

Autumn is the traditional time to harvest many crops such as potatoes, apples, pears, plums, sweet corn, pumpkins and grapes.

Soft fruit is used for immediate use (strawberries, raspberries, brambles and tomatoes) with surplus for the freezer or jams and chutneys.

In the past, although I was getting bumper crops of figs, picking was done over several months so they were all consumed as fresh fruit.

Anna picking Discovery apples

This year however the tropical summer has brought on the ripening so fast that surplus figs had to find a home as two people could not consume forty figs over three days.

Anna found some great recipes for both fig chutney as well as fig jam.

The fig chutney has apples, onions, sultanas added with brown sugar, cider vinegar and some salt, ginger, a clove and some ground nutmeg.

The jam is pure figs and sugar in equal weights with a vanilla pod and some lemon juice.

Brewing gooseberry, saskatoon and blackcurrant wine

Potatoes harvested in autumn and onions in late summer are all dried off and stored in a dark cool but frost free shed or garage.

Beetroot can be lifted and stored dry in boxes of sand or dry soil, but with mild winters mine have been happy outdoors where they are growing, and if frost threatens they get happed up with soil for protection.

Some beetroots however are continually called for in the kitchen for a delicious beetroot soup, or in a borsch dish, as well as the traditional pickled beetroot.

Leeks, Swedes, parsnips, cabbage and sprouts are all happy left in the ground and used as required. They will all happily survive till the end of winter.

Summer tomatoes

Pumpkins in a normal year are harvested at the end of October, but this year mine are ready in mid September.

The leaves suffered mildew then some damage as I harvested the sweet corn which shared the growing space as an experiment as they are happy together growing at different heights.

The pumpkins will now be brought home to brighten up a shelf in the house.

They usually last well into the next year, but are very popular when sliced and roasted as well as an ingredient in soups.

Anna cooks fig jam and chutney

Summer crops of gooseberries, black and red currants are either in the freezer or converted into jams.

Surplus raspberries and strawberries are also in the freezer to be used for jams, compote and summer puddings.

In summer the gooseberry crop was huge, so a fair bit got frozen but some got combined with mint to make a savoury but sweet gooseberry jelly, and still enough for five demijohns of vintage gooseberry wine.

Sweet corn gets harvested in one task once ripeness is at its best. Sampling is started ahead to see how the crop is progressing.

Roast pumpkin slices

Some are kept in the fridge for immediate use over a couple of weeks, but then the others are frozen.

Preparing them for the freezer starts on a sunny day outdoors where we strip off all the leaves and remove the tip if it lacks corn.

They are then blanched in boiling water for a couple of minutes, removed and plunged into cold water before laying out to dry and then bagged up for freezing.

The freezer space gets filled early with the gluts of soft fruit and vegetables like the broad beans, dwarf French beans and peas, but room is needed for the surplus raspberries and strawberries as well as the sweet corn.

Onions ready for storing

This is where my wine brewing helps out as I can utilise the previous year’s surplus of saskatoons, chokeberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries.

Once they are defrosted they are perfect for a homebrew and release space in the freezer for the next crop. At this time of year there is no shortage of produce.

Pears do not store for very long, so surplus can be peeled, cored and diced then slightly cooked with a dash of water and some vanilla.

Once cold they can be frozen for future use in sweets, with yogurt, custard or with breakfast cereals.

Tomatoes have had a brilliant year, but now there are huge surpluses for freezing to be used later on for soups and pasta sauce.

Wee jobs to do this week

As autumn weather brings down our temperatures our greenhouse tomatoes and grapes come to the end of their season.

No need for any more feeding but keep watering if required.

Tomatoes can hang on the vine for many more weeks, but pick them as they ripen.

If you have a few grape varieties, the early ones like Siegerrebe, the seedless Flame and Solaris will have been picked but Black Hamburg ripens slowly over many weeks so just pick those that ripen and be patient for the later bunches as Black Hamburg can continue to ripen up to the end of November.