If you’ve been following our story over the last few years, you’ll know that part of the reason that we wanted to move to the countryside and buy a house with land was that we wanted to be able to grow more of our own produce than we’d been able to do in our suburban garden.
I’ve always liked to grow things that we could eat fresh from the garden, make jam with the surplus fruit and in recent years elderflower cordial, and moving on to a 4.5-acre plot in February has meant that this year we’ve been able to take it to a whole new level.
Although we’ve not yet had time to look at cultivating fruit and vegetables, the natural abundance on our land has caused us to look at ways to eat, store and preserve our harvest so as to make the best use of what we have – and minimise waste.
Following in my Granny’s footsteps, I’ve registered with Kent County council to enable me to sell some of the jam that I’ve made. So far ‘Moleshill Produce’ has a stock of 20+ jars of plum jam and some blackberry jelly – and the damson jam will not be far behind. You can’t beat homemade jam for flavour, and lack of additives compared to commercially produced options, and eating the leftovers warm from the pan cannot be beaten.
“I must tell you, years ago (like 20) my grandad made me some plum jam, it was so delicious, from then on, I have tried hundreds (shop brought, farm shop, homemade etc.) never have I been able to find a jam even close to my grandad’s, that was until I tried yours!!! So, congratulations to the jam maker – it tasted just like my grandads and was delicious!!!”
Nicky – Herne Bay
The elderflower cordial is long gone, delicious in a long cool summer drink, and a fraction of the price of shop bought equivalents – but the rosehips are nearly ready, so that will be the next project.
We have several apple and pear trees and have been inundated with fruit, some of which we’ll use and store, but much of which we have simply given away to friends, family and a local animal rescue who love the windfalls for their pigs and farmyard animals. In time we’ll sort out a barrow and honesty basket for the end of the driveway, but that will need to be sorted ready for next year.
In the meantime, applesauce, frozen apples, pies and crumbles should mean not needing to buy much fruit over the winter months and I’ll experiment with snack ideas like dried apple rings and fruit leather (like home-made fruit winders but with less chemical gunk) and see what happens.
I love the idea of being a bit more self-sufficient foodwise and reducing the additives that we consume as a family when we can – so as to balance out the chocolate and other yummies that we eat from time to time. Pureed fruit can be used in baking, or to top breakfast cereal rather than adding sugar, and stored by canning, or freezing until needed – a bit like making baby food but on a larger scale.
For the first time this year, we made elderflower champagne, surprisingly easy with a plastic bucket and some empty 2-litre fizzy pop bottles – and we’ll have a go at sloe gin after the first frost, but you’ll need to wait until next year to see how that turns out!
It doesn’t all go to plan, and sometimes makes a mess – but it’s fun and a great way to feel in touch with the outside space that we have.
…And a great way to get the kids outside!