Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Ere the winter storms begin

The nights are definitely drawing in now.  I've scarcely closed my curtains for ages but the last two nights I've drawn them.  There’s been a bit of a chill in the air sometimes and while I have every hope that we may see a bit more summer, my thoughts are beginning to turn towards autumn.

At this time of the year my Mother was always so busy.  Quite apart from the fact that it was the long summer holiday from school so I was under her feet, the garden was at its most productive.  She would already have made the raspberry and blackcurrant jams.  Although we didn’t grow apricots she would have bought a tray of apricots from the greengrocer and made jam as well as bottling copious quantities ready for puddings in the winter when fruit was more expensive.  She would also have bottled raspberries and by now would be starting to bottle pears.  The runner beans would be hard to keep up with but she would have bought several blocks of salt and would have got the big stoneware jars down so she could salt beans, topping up the jars every day with that day’s pickings.  

Father would be quite busy too.  Soon he would be digging up the main crop potatoes and making a potato pie – a heap of potatoes covered with straw and soil to protect them from frost.  Throughout the winter he would open the pie each week and bring enough spuds to the house along with the parsnips which had been sweetened by the frost.  By the end of the autumn the onions would have been lifted and tied into strings to hang inside, the cabbages and the dreaded Brussels sprouts would be growing and he would have picked the Bramley apples, checked each for blemishes and wrapped the sound ones to keep through the winter.

Many of those things are still true for me but my garden is much smaller and I rely on the generosity of others who give me fruit and veg when there is a glut, knowing that I will process it one way or another and use it well into the spring.

But the biggest difference is the advent of the domestic freezer – the deep freeze as we called them when first they came on the market.  My Mother had one from the mid-sixties and surplus fruit and veg went in there.  From where I stand I think that freezers have made one of the biggest difference in how many of us run our homes.

This last couple of days I have been making fish pies, cauliflower cheese, pigs in blankets and other goodies and will freeze them.  (No, I didn’t go fishing and I don't keep pigs!)  I’ve put some pork to cure as bacon and will freeze that when it is ready and I have sliced it.

I like to be ready “ere the winter storms begin”.  When the weather is really bad I’m stuck – or rather I would be stuck if I didn’t follow my late Mother’s example and make sure I have a full store of delights.

Thanks, Mum!

2 comments:

  1. I too have started packing the freezer with surplus veg and have started making jam chutney and relish for the winter months. It is definitely getting colder her too.

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  2. Hi. Just had a look at your blog, you are also a crafter like me :o))
    I will send you an email to answer your question. Best wishes.

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