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