1. Abundance and preserving. It’s that time of year again: the regular thud of apples falling off heavily-laden boughs onto my lawn; the triffid-like majesty of two thriving rhubarb plants; the first swelling of aubergines and cucumbers on their stalks in the greenhouse, and the flourishing of herbs - lemon verbena, grapefruit mint, Thai basil, oregano, lavender…The markets are full of beautiful rosy Victoria plums and blooming jade greengages, the last of summer’s peaches and downy apricots, and jewel-like berries in abundance. At times like these, I love nothing more than to dust off my jam pan and start preserving for the autumn and winter (although admittedly I make far more preserves than I can ever get through alone, and give away around 80% of what I produce, but that’s part of the joy too). Favourite recipes at the moment include Diana Henry’s plum, orange and cardamom jam, greengage and honey compote (this freezes well for use on winter porridge), and my own spiced apple and date jam, or rhubarb, vanilla and cardamom jam. If you have an apple glut, try making flavoured jellies for sweet and savoury food: my two favourites are festive apple jelly and lemon verbena jelly. For more luscious jam ideas, see Diana Henry’s beautiful book Salt Sugar Smoke – the apricot and lavender jam is also excellent.Read More
Normal people have certain staples in their freezers. Bags of peas. Ice cream. Breaded fish fillets. Ready meals. Frozen pizzas. In the freezer of the food-waste-phobe, this set of staples will probably have a few extra additions: tubs of homemade stock from the leftovers of a roast dinner; parmesan rinds to be added to soups; odds and ends of bread to be turned into breadcrumbs when the need arises.
And then, if you’re me, you can add to this list a plastic bag full of squeezed lemon halves, and three frozen bergamots.Read More
The glorious bounty of summer is on its way. I don't know about you, but I'm already excited for sunny days spent at the pick-your-own farm, greedily clawing berries off their stalks until my hands are smeared with a dramatic mixture of dark juice and blood from the inevitable gooseberry thorn-pricks. I'll soon be turning on the spare freezer in my shed, ready to fill it to bursting with jewel-like summer fruits: tiny glistening blackcurrants and redcurrants, voluptuously downy raspberries and plump jade gooseberries, all waiting to be enveloped in cake batter, simmered into compotes or churned through creamy frozen yoghurt. Last summer I came up with another wonderful way to use a glut of summer berries: spend a couple of days turning them into gorgeous fruit vinegars. It's very simple, and you end up with the most beautiful bottles, glowing with golden hues of red and yellow and looking like something that wouldn't be out of place on the shelf of a medieval apothecary or the souks of the Arabian Nights. Head over to my post on AO Life to see how it's done, and for recipe suggestions for using these captivating concoctions.
There are a million and one delicious things in the world. Chocolate. Ripe mangoes. Jennifer Lawrence. But sometimes I think that, as far as simplicity goes, you can't get much better than curd. I'm not talking about the pale, buttery clouds that rise to the surface when you make cheese (the curds of Little Miss Muffet, as they are otherwise known), but that blissfully ambrosial concoction of butter, eggs, sugar and fruit, heated and whisked until glossy, gelatinous and spreadable and then placed in jars where you can admire its beautiful pastel hues.Read More