Thursday, February 23, 2012

more things in jars...

Recently we managed to gather quite the quantity of blackberries, enough to make jam. As I've discussed here before, I quite like playing the homemaker and preserving lots of things in jars. Oh don't worry I've analysed it and am fully aware of where my yearning to provide comes from. So while aware, I choose to ignore because, well, I just love it and so while Annie sews, I cook and preserve and it's one big happy crafty house really. Olive had her first foray into crochet this eve and the little boy next door was pretty keen to give it a try too so yep it's all just craft craft craft. Nauseating really. Oh but the blackberries were far from nauseating as Oscar can attest. Big and fat and sweet and just so rich in flavour...

I ended up using a composite of recipes for my entree to blackberry jam making and it worked a treat. I had around 10 cups of blackberries and added 8 cups of sugar and the juice of 2 lemons to them. I then left the beautiful sweet mass for a few hours.
After getting all juicy and delicious, it goes into a pot for cooking. Blackberries are a low pectin fruit and, mindful of this, I probably overdid the cooking a bit. All up, it bubbled away for a good 2 hours. We ended up with a very thick jam. Delicious as it is I might ease up on the cooking time next time around.

After this it goes into warm sterile jars. I learned a trick, for setting the seal, from Stephanie whereby you invert the warm jar filled with hot ingredients immediately. Once cool, you turn back the right way, press down the middle of the lid and the contents have sealed (unless the lid is faulty or too old).

So far so good, this jam has been enjoyed with butter on homemade banana bread, with butter on homemade apple and sultana bread and with butter (once again) on plain old wholemeal toast. Frankly all freaking delicious.

But once again our eating patterns reveal we need to get ourselves our own house cow quick smart. Some women we recently met have promised us their darling little Jersey in about a year's time. We are a butter loving family and local, organic butter seems impossible to come by so we need to get a move on and make our own with one of these. I love the way they promote this churn as making butter in just 30minutes! I guess there's something in that and not being one for exercise by design I am loving the idea of a regular workout in the pursuit of uber-creamy Jersey milk butter.

Speaking of cows, we have 25 cows grazing our land as I type. They belong to our neighbour. It's a lovely synchronicity - we are helping him by providing new feed for his cows and he is helping us as his cows will relieve us of some of our weed problem while simultaneously tramping and "fertilising" our block. This will help us as we start to plant things - indigenous natives that will contribute to a wildlife corridor, fruit trees and our Zone 1 kitchen garden. Ah but more on the tramping and fertilising in a later post.

In the meantime, we have excavators on their way and 150 strawbales to order and the tomato preserving continues. I am the bargain buyer of Bega, sniffing out almost rotting tomatoes for a bargain basement price and passata-ing it up in our kitchen. Some of those almost-rotten tomatoes found their way into a lovely slow cooked lamb, tomato and green bean stew this evening. As I chopped and cooked I had a moment of reflection regarding the provenance of all the ingredients. I felt pretty good as I realised everything had come from our local producers market. Then I realised that in a few years it will all come from our very own 7 acres. What a good day that will be.


  1. Hi, I feel like I am stalking you. Every day I click on my favourites list to view your blog, in case you updated it again (since the day before). I love you - your energy, your efforts, your dedication and well that you are doing what you are doing.
    Please don't give up on your blog, it is such a inspiration in so many ways.
    Your blackberry jam looks amazing - I did very much like your blog about growing blackberries and the debate regarding weeds. I want to grow blackberrries, and I resolved that so long as I kept them on my side of the creek they were a delicacy and not a weed - obviously a more simplistic and more hedonistic theory than yours - but that is probably why I am still dreaming of my farm and yay - you are on yours. Congratulations.

  2. Thanks so much for your comment Kirst. It's so nice to know that someone we don't actually know in real life is reading our blog and enjoying it and feeling inspired There are so many people that inspire us that have done/are doing what we're doing, we are such newbies. You may already know of these sites but if not, here you go - Milkwood, Happy Earth, John Champagne, Little Eco Footprints, Soule Mama....and best of all, we have met some wonderful people down here who are doing truly amazing stuff with their land and they don't even have blogs! Again thanks, all the best with your own food producing endeavours.