Seasonal preserving

Here in the wide brown land it is high summer and stone fruit is in season.  Settle down, all you folk in midwinter on the far side of the planet!  There has been an outbreak of illness and surgery in my extended family, and it was with regret that my father informed me that their blood plums would be ripening while my parents were away visiting and supporting those in need.  I draw your attention to the basket, evidently made by either my grandma or my grandpa on Mum’s side.

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My parents can really grow things.  Fruit, flowers, vegetables, ferns, natives… these plums are enormous!  They already had more than they could use, so I pulled out my Fowlers Vacola bottling outfit and set to work.  I think I now understand that this is what folk in North America call canning.  As a child, I was amazed to think people in the US had a way to put things in cans at home.  North American supplies are now available here along with those from Italy and other parts of Europe.  But this is what I grew up with.  I now understand it was quite an Anglo-Australian thing.  Friends with families from other parts of Europe sometimes used different processing and preservation methods and sometimes just used jars from anything consumed in their household to bottle fruit.

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I love that food preserving is becoming hip at the moment–a bit–but when I was a child it was viewed as a necessity by my family, along with making jam.  Now, this kind of equipment is readily available second hand and cheaply.  For my parents it was a huge outlay and we had the smallest, most basic kit available.  I scored the next model up (bigger but still basic) for a few dollars at a garage sale, something that could have saved my mother hours of what she clearly experienced as drudgery.

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Well, this time she can have some glowing ruby jars of stewed plums without any drudgery at all, bless her.  And while I was on the project I decided to clear the freezer out a bit and do a round of dye jars using India Flint’s Stuff, Steep and Store Method.

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Hibiscus flowers, daylily flowers, hollyhocks, and clean, scoured avocado peel (fresh from lunch).  Into the jars with pre-mordanted silk embroidery thread they went.

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In the whole scheme of summer preservation, I also collected mizuna seed, woad seed and some ruby saltbush seed and set up to save them.  There was such an abundance of woad seed, and purple dye is so amazing, I put up a jar of that too.  I am looking forward to trying the agrimony seed that Wendi of the Treasure has sent when the time is right.  And to opening these jars in the future!

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Seasonal preserving

  1. I also have a stuffstoresteep jar on the go. All I have to do now is decide when to open it!

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  2. Greetings from one of your midwinter readers! I know this has been a hot hot year for you so I am wary of saying how blissfully warm it looks in your part of the world. But it is so good to see all these fruit and produce pics! So uplifting! My grandmother, born in Melbourne, lived most of her life in the UK and was a great bottler of fruit and veggies too. I wonder as I read your blog if this is because of her Australian roots? Her pears in particular were delicious. It was definitely a war-time economy measure too (she came to the UK in the 30s). I agree that it is excellent to see this method returning to fashion. I bet the results of all your hard work will be delicious, and much appreciated!

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    • Well, it is blissful some of the time. Today we had uncharacteristically tropical weather, lightning, thunder and magical rain! I love the memory of your grandma’s pears. My parents often spent hours preparing the fruit and packing it decoratively into the jars in halves. Then pouring in syrup. By comparison this is rough and ready, but still delicious 🙂 thanks!

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  3. Rebecca

    Sooooo so much excitement in this post and great treasure to look forward to in your jars.

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  4. As a northern reader waiting for THE BLIZZARD to arrive and wreak havoc, the sunniness of those beautiful plums is a balm. I always have good intentions with the preserving, but it’s hard to work up enthusiasm for laboring over steaming pots during the mid-summer heat/humidity here.

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  5. Susan

    Ah but, I found frozen plums/raspberries/blackberries and some Huckleberry juice ready to make jam with. much nicer to ‘jam’ in the winter and surprise everyone! Hey, pisstkitty, stay safe!!!

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  6. glad the seeds arrived safely…. I have woad and agrimony growing well and am looking forward to experimenting. I too am enjoying stuffsteepstore method but alas am not so good on the store side.

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    • It is hard to wait sometimes! I have surprised myself by bring better than expected at it… In this context. Thanks so much for the agrimony. I have just one thriving E Scoparia seeding remaining. Better save more seed!

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  7. glorious! warms the cockles of me heart (whatever they are) , all of it.

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    • Thank you! Ah, the cockles of your heart. I don’t know what they are either but the idea of a bivalve opening and closing warmly in the chest tickles my fancy too…

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  8. DELIGHTFUL, Mary. Gosh those plums are gorgeous … dead of winter here & those have me yearning for summer, for sure!

    Best wishes on the wait for the others – it will be worth it. Perhaps put your jars up & away somewhere where you won’t be constantly reminded of their presence? That’s what I did & I made it 423 days, hee hee. Surprised meself and certainly developed a healthy regard for that word *patience.* ;>))

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    • Thanks so much, Christi! I travelled to your blog last week and was so moved by that poem that I tried (not for the first time) to comment but alas! Blogger won’t let me, still. Perhaps in the future I’ll regain that power! Blood plums are so spectacular, aren’t they? And the idea that we have summer while snowstorms rage on the other side of the world still seems amazing to me after all these years of understanding it is so. I have the sss jars on a shelf above my ironing board for admiration. People ask if they are jam! I have been surprised by my capacity to wait too!I have been wondering whether to put some out in the sun for the solar/preservation combination, because I have them on a quiet shady spot indoors. 423 days is AMAZING! Congratulations!

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  9. This post brought back so many memories of helping my mum bottle (can) plums, peaches, apricots, pears and other fruit each summer when I was young.

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