As with all allotment holders that enjoy their food I have been busy gathering and storing mine. Tomatoes have been gathered in.
Apples and pears were picked and then processed for the freezer, we managed 22lb of peeled and cored apples this year. I’m so pleased because last year this apple tree gave us two apples and one of those was not much bigger than an acorn.
And with the left over peel I am making organic apple cider vinegar.
We have been pumpkin hunting, which was great fun and found three beautiful Crown Prince to add to our not so great harvest this year.
There has been chestnuting, an old custom from our town, all ages take part and this year the sweet chestnuts have been excellent – must have been all that rain.
It is a slow and arduous process to get the second skin off a sweet chestnut, but one that is worth it I think. My method is to snip the pointy end into a cross with a pair of kitchen shears then plunge five and only five chestnuts into boiling water for one minute, lift out into a bowl and run to the table with them and pull of the first shell and with the aid of a pointy knife lift off the second skin. This must be done while the chestnut is still hot otherwise the second skin known as the ‘tan’ which is the pellicle (and this tastes bitter and is best removed) welds itself back onto the chestnut. While I am doing this I have turned off the heat and thrown another five into the hot water, I repeat the process until the water becomes murky and cool and start again with fresh water. If the chestnut cools, simply plunge back into hot water to warm the chestnut and allow the second skin to be removed.
I have three pounds in weight in the freezer and a half bag to do this morning. Then that will do me, even though chestnuts are still bouncing off the parked cars sat underneath the chestnut trees. Unless I get a second wind, that is! You never know!
I’ve been baking rich fruit cakes this autumn. It is nice to get the oven going after a long hot summer, this is my fourth cake. I think there is a competition between hubby and my Dad as to who can eat them the fastest. I use Delia’s recipe, she’s never let me down although I do increase the ratio of nuts, cherries and citrus rind, but add 25g of extra flour to compensate and a little longer in the oven.
Along with that the autumnal crops are coming along. We ate some beautiful rainbow chard yesterday that I made into a garlic and cream gratin which we had with some very local sheep, which was delicious. The sheep had been reared and grown, slaughtered and delivered to me, all on the same lane. It seemed a natural process to have it with our home grown rainbow chard, also grown on the same lane. How’s that for food miles!
What with all the rain we have not got on top of the plot as yet, it looks like it is drying out for a few days so we should get a little autumn digging done, fingers crossed.
Creatively, I’m at the start of a crochet blanket, several socks are lodged in nooks and crannies around the house, a King sized quilt is half way through and ideas abound.