aardbeienjamYesterday I got two pounds of strawberries in the market and tonight I made some jam. On the allotment the strawberry plants are flowering happily, so in a few weeks I should have my own strawberries. Much better.

I make jam with a special sugar containing pectin. Easy as pie and it tastes good.


Cracking nuts

I like walnuts. I like them a lot. And we are lucky enough to have several walnut trees in the neighbourhood where I can find them in autumn, though there are lots of other people were also interested so it’s a matter of luck if you find any. But by going searching regularly I can usually collect quite a few walnuts. I also ask around for nuts if people have them in excess. If you have one or two large trees, you can easily find you have more walnuts then you can use. Now that people know that I am interested to get them, they will accept gifts of walnuts even if they don’t use them themselves. The nuts get passed on to me, which makes me happy.

But then I find myself facing a bucket of nuts which have to be cracked/shelled. Right…

Using traditional nutcrackers (of the twisting or squeezing kind) I find my hands and arms soon hurting, so I devised my own, high-tech method of cracking walnuts. As it really is too complicated to explain in words, I add a photograph.


The stone is a salvaged piece of marble from a tabletop. Perfect anvil for nut cracking.

Not out of onions yet

I just topped up my bowl of onions, which I keep on the kitchen window sill, from our storage box in the attic. We still got a good few weeks of supply left.


Fruit leather

First fruit leather I ever made. A windfall quince, sugar and some left over homemade applesauce were the ingredients.

Tomatoes for canning

My tomato plants have been struck by blight and the plants are deteriorating fast. There’s still quite some green fruit there, though, so I’m leaving it on and have been harvesting the (almost) ripe tomatoes that have not been blighted yet. Yesterday I had enough to justify a small canning session. It’s nice to have four more pots of canned tomato in the larder.

Borlotti beans

Ready for a 48 hour period of freezing to kill off any bugs/larvae/eggs, then storage in a tight container at room temperature.



French bean glut

Through a confluence of events I am currently experiencing a glut of French beans in my allotment. I had purchased some seed from the Real Seed Catalogue in the UK. These were Coco Spohie beans, a flat podded French bean. I had very poor germination and I thought it was just bad luck or bad handling of the sewing on my side. But I was contacted by them with the message that they had received reports of poor germination and if I was experiencing this too, I could get a packet of replacement seed. Really good service, that! Anyhow, I had already sown another type of French beans and then I had also put in the entire remainder of the package of Coco Sophie beans, supposing that they would probably not germinate and that it would not be any use keeping the seeds as they were not of good quality for germination. But, lo and behold, this time all the seeds germinate it. Causing me to have quite a few French bean plants. And they have been producing quite well over the last weeks. Of course, we have eaten French bean several times, I have also given away plenty, but I have also been diligently blanching and freezing the harvest. This results in us now having some 20 frozen green bean packages. Just like in the picture, where you can see this morning’s efforts ready to be frozen.

Pumpkin storage

Yesterday I harvested my pumkins. A bit earlier than I would have liked, but we’ve had so much rain that I was afraid they would start to rot. Some of the tender ones were already rotting on the plant. July gave us twice the average amount of rain and on August 9 we had already almost had our average monthly amount of rain for August.

Anyhow, I’ve tried to store them in such a way that they suffer no pressure on any one side, they are dry in our frost free attic, hung in bags which contained onions or citrus fruit.

Storing potatoes

For lack of a proper cellar in our house I store potatoes in the attic. Not ideal, for it gets warm there and humidity is fairly low. But last year we ate all the potatoes before they could go bad, so hopefully they’ll store as well this year.

My sister gave me a rack with wire drawers in it. I put a newspaper in the drawer, put potatoes on top of that, cover with another newspaper and cover the entire thing in a fleece to keep out the light and keep in the humidity.