Fri, Jun 25 2010
I have had the real pleasure of looking after my friend's strawberry patch this week. It is about 4 metres by 2 metres and is packed with fruiting plants. I would dearly love a patch of land to grow some produce on and keep a few chickens. I have had my name down on the list for about 3 years for an allotment but I think I need to pop into the council offices and check what's going on! The possible community aspect of a piece of land alongside many others for the same purpose is really appealing. Maybe I am looking at it through rose tinted spectacles but the idea of pottering around an allotment, maybe a few chickens scratching around and an abundance of the freshest produce you could wish for.
My friend has her allotment in a neighbour's garden. It seems a real sin to me as the garden in question lays vacant, unused and overgrown. In my small row of houses we struggle for garden space and just behind us is this unwanted gem of space crying out for a goat or two! Fruit trees live unattended and what it bears lays rotting in the grass. It's about time we sorted ourselves out and appreciated what we have around us and used it. But values change and shopping in a supermarket has brought about a need for produce to look perfect, unblemished and there when we want it. All shame to those with rotting apples in their garden.
But, the sun is shining and I have a fridge full of strawberries and rhubarb too. So tomorrow I am going to put all the strawberries in a pan, crush them with a potato masher and cook them gently for 5 minutes. I will then add the equivalent weight in pectin enriched sugar, letting it dissolve and then simmer for about 10 minutes until the syrupy mixture is at setting point. Test by placing a little on a saucer and letting it sit for a few minutes. Push with your finger and hope it wrinkles. Pouring into clean warm jars and sealing your creation is a strangely satisfying feeling and to then see the jars lined up on your kitchen counter gives immense pleasure. All shapes and sizes, labeled and ready to go. Preserving is fab.
Keep as presents or spread liberally on hot brown toast!
If this is not your thing try making some meringues or shortbread and serve with plenty of strawberries fresh whipped cream! Mmmmmm............