Monday, 17 November 2014

Harvest Monday - rain (and elderberry & apple jelly)

Continuing with the autumn theme this week, unfortunately we're not getting crisp November days but instead rather soggy ones. Still not had a frost though.

Thanks to the rain yesterday I didn't get down the plot to sow me broad beans as it started in the morning just as I was about to head out. So I spent some time in the back garden ( in the rain) clearing away the beans etc. Mainly because I wanted to pull the canes out so they didn't rot in the ground over winter.

I did find a few blauhilde beans that seem edible (still crisp when snapped) and also some nice runner beans for saving seed from. There was a gherkin too but I didn't want to risk it being bitter, so just composted it. I cut back a couple of rocket plants to hopefully re-grow in the spring.

Here's the beans with a chilli from the lean to. I've just brought this plant indoors, managed to squeeze it on the shelf with two sweet pepper plants.

This week I picked one of the sweet peppers too:

That's pretty much it in terms of harvests apart from some chard I didn't get a piccie of. I have a small container in my front yard that I put some old tomato compost in and put in three chard seedlings earlier in the year. The yard faces North so they're not going to grow any more this winter but it's handy having them where we can pick a few leaves when I haven't got down the plot.

Using up some stored veggies this week included a yummy curry with roast sqush ( the skin was rock- hard and difficult to cut though but the flesh was delicious), beans from the freezer and fruit from the freezer too.

I made an apple and almond cake (using Shaheen at 'allotment to kitchen's plum cake recipe (which I also made when I had some plums in late summer). It was really good. Didn't get any pics though.

And made elderberry and apple jelly. I had the berries in the freezer from earlier pickings around the neighbourhood. I used up about half of them (3.5 pounds), with the same amount of apples and 1.2 litres of water. I cooked them up one evening til they were soft (and squished them up a bit more too to get the juice out). With the apples you just chop them up to get pectin from the skin and core.

Then I set up my jelly strainer (upturned stool). This is in the morning after. I do squeeze mine to get all the juice ( and risk cloudy jelly).

Mm, juicy (Also bring back memories from the 80s by looking like a member of the red hand gang after squeezing out the juices)

Then heat up slowly to the boil and add lots of sugar (450 grams* to every 600ml liquid). I had 2000ml so used 1500 grams of sugar. (Think I got that right). Hmm, Looking at the photo again, I had about 2200ml so should have used a bit more sugar than that.

*corrected from 4.5 lbs! Thanks to Margaret for spotting my mistake. Not too much of a difference there then, oops.

Then stir the sugar in slowly until it's all dissolved and start bringing to a rapid boil for about 10mins ( or in my case, 40 mins or so! It just would not set so I kept adding lemon juice til I finally got a set)

Tah dah! But not as many jars as I was expecting because It boiled for so long and I lost a lot to evaporation. I've got the same amount of berries in the freezer so might make some more (and lots of apples still) and add some red currants for extra pectin.

As it's hard to get all the jelly out of the pan, I didn't want to waste it and so used the pan to make up a big batch of stewed fruit for the freezer. I also added some scum (bubbly aerated jelly juice) that I'd scooped off the top of the jars being point in wasting it! (But it does make the jars a bit messy, really I should've scooped it off from the pan).

Linking in with the good folk for Harvest Monday hosted by Daphne's dandelions



  1. We didn't harvest anything last week - as you say it was too wet and miserable to go ti the plot. It's brighter today so fingers crossed

    1. Hope you managed to get down there yesterday Sue :)

    2. If yesterday was Tuesday - we did indeed.

  2. Surprise harvests are always so nice! Is the sugar number right? It seems like a lot (almost 9 cups of sugar for not quite 2 1/2 cups of liquid)....but then again, I've never made jelly so maybe that's just the way it is.

    1. Ah, you are so right Margaret, I got the number completely wrong (it was getting late in the eve!) it should be 450 grams. Thanks for noticing, I'll change it.

  3. That looks yummy. I tend to squeeze my bags too, but don't care if the final product is cloudy. I just want the most.

  4. Yeh, definitely Daphne, the more juice the better, especially after going to all that effort. I got an extra 500ml. I also find that the heavier, silty bits sink to the bottom of the jug and get left behind more-or-less anyway when the liquid is poured out ( you can just about see this in the pic with the sugar, the jug is just on the edge of the photo and you can see the silty red stuff at the bottom left behind)

  5. Happy to have found your lovely blog. It's wonderful to still have home/allotment grown fruit and veg in the autumn and winter isn't it.

  6. Thanks for stopping by CJ :) yes it's quite satisfying to still pick a few bits over the winter. I need to have a proper look round and see what I've got hidden amongst the weeds!