It’s all too easy to stay on repeat and just grow the same things and make the same jams and preserves year after year. But a minor mishap meant I needed to clear off the garage shelf where I keep our stock of preserves, and as I put it all back I realised several things that I need to act on this year. I’ve made a note to self to remember this next year (and the year after, and the year after that).
- I have way too much crab apple jelly. Delicious though it is, we still have jars that date back to 2016. It’s still fine to use, but really I shouldn’t make any more until we’ve used all this lot up. Likewise grape jelly from 2015. Whereas the grape juice I made last year was delicious and we could have used far more. Lesson learned.
- I only need to make marmalade every couple of years. It keeps well, and I prefer to make a larger quantity to last longer than several smaller amounts.
- We actually don’t eat a huge amount of jam. Our sons and their partners enjoy it, and I enjoy it, but there’s only so much we can eat. Malcolm eats very little jam (unless I make blackcurrant jam or cherry jam). Making smaller quantities of our soft fruit jams is sensible.
- Labels are VITAL!! Occasionally I have filled small jars and been certain that I would know what was in them. How foolish. Now I know to cut labels into smaller pieces to fit the tiniest of jars. Thus avoiding the surprise when a train picnic results in a roll with chutney not a roll with marmalade. Not that there’s anything wrong with chutney, you know, in its place…
- I love drinking elderflower cordial, but it is just flavoured sugar syrup. And therefore not something someone keeping an eye on their weight should drink too much of. I have several years supply sitting on the shelf.
- Likewise sloe gin.
One of the most sensible things I’ve read about fruit and vegetable growing is that the only crops worth growing are the ones you actually pick and eat. Of course this comes into the ‘bleeding obvious’ category, and yet how often I’ve found that I’ve carefully grown something and then don’t get out there in time to pick and use it. Likewise, I often find myself coming to the end of March and finding that I still have lots of potatoes left and they’re getting soft and sprouting. Not sensible. To avoid this I need to:
- only grow what we enjoy eating
- only grow what we will eat, preserve, or give away
- eat what I’ve grown (ie remember it’s there and use it)
- give away anything we can’t / won’t use ourselves.
I wrote this on Monday, and went straight out to the allotment to get started on this year’s season. Such an exciting prospect!