Last year I made nectarine jam for the first time, adding apple and lemon verbena. It was really tasty, but this year my lemon verbena has not put on so much growth and after making my lemon verbena liqueur and saving some to dry for tea in winter, I was worried there wouldn’t be enough. So this year, instead of lemon verbena, I used some more of that precious jar of stem ginger my sister sent me. The result: delightful! But is it jam, or marmalade?….
Nectarine, Apple and Ginger Jam
1kg (2 lbs) prepared fruit – I used 2 apples, cored, peeled and finely chopped, and the rest nectarines, stones removed and chopped into small pieces
Put everything except the stem ginger pieces into a large preserving pan and leave to macerate for at least 2 hours, or even overnight. Put a plate in the fridge for your gelling test.
Boil up the jam for a good 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and mash with a potato masher when cool enough. (Be careful – hot jam burns!) Add the chopped ginger and return to the heat. Boil for a further 5 minutes. Now you can do your gelling test – drop a little jam onto your cold plate. If it’s ready it should gel within 30 seconds… if not, boil up again for a further 5 minutes, repeat the test.
Using a funnel, pour into your sterilized jam jars, right to the brim, and seal. Turn them upside down to create a vacuum. Leave to cool. After a couple of hours you can turn them right way up again, but leave the jam for another few hours until completely cold before moving again.
This is perfect for toast, which makes me wonder if that is how I should define the difference… jam for bread and marmalade for toast. I know citrus fruits are usually marmalade… but is that the difference in reality?
The blueberries have been really good this summer – fat and juicy, with a delicious aroma. So I decided to try making jam. My Man of Many Talents gave it 9 out of 10 points…. the last point being detracted because he thinks my Strawberry Jam is better! 😀
Blueberry and Vanilla Jam
1kg (2 lbs) fresh blueberries
500g (1 lb) preserving sugar (extra high pectin, called 2:1 here in Germany)
1 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 vanilla pod
Mix the blueberries and sugar and 1 cup of water and leave to macerate for a couple of hours, or even overnight. Add the lemon juice, vanilla seeds AND the vanilla pod. (You can remove it right at the end).
In a very large pot, bring to the boil. Then cook on a rolling boil for at least 5 minutes, stirring now and then. Mine set very quickly, but you may need to cook it for longer. Do the gelling test by putting a spoonful on a very cold plate (from the fridge) and if it sets straight away it’s done. Otherwise cook a little longer and repeat the test until it’s gelled nicely.
Remove the vanilla pod. Pour into sterilized jars – using a jam funnel – right to the brim. Seal and turn upside down to create a vacuum. After a couple of hours you can turn them right way up again and leave to cool completely.
After a flying visit to the UK (barely 40 hours there!) and then visiting a birthday girl this morning, I only have a quick shot for today. Cool, damp and most definitely late summer/autumn….
The Japanese acer is turning yellow, but it will take another month before it looks its best and I will enjoy watching it change to a deep red. That’s what I like about autumn… everything happens slowly enough to keep pace!
The March Hare and the Hatter put the Dormouse’s head in a teapot. Illustration by John Tenniel. (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland).
Every summer we see (or hear) these little creatures in our garden shed…
in the hazel trees…
in the woods…
in the kitchen…
Yes, this year we even had one in the kitchen! A disused ventilation pipe behind our stove was clearly never filled in and so a regular visitor to the hood of my stove has been a dormouse. The other day several kitchen cupboards had to be removed in order to ensure he/she was not stuck in there before we closed up the hole. But somehow he hid in a closed off part of the hood, where he got stuck… Eventually he was ceremoniously released (the spice cupboard had to be prised apart with force) and carefully placed outside. Now he can return to his pipe, but with no access into the kitchen!
Dormice sleep from September to May. In fact they get their name from this trait; dormeus means “sleepy” in Anglo-Norman; the word was later altered to resemble the word “mouse”. They are, however, very active most of the summer, and make a tremendous chattering squeaking noise in the night as they jump through the trees like tiny squirrels. But at this time of year they are looking for a cosy place to hibernate. They eat most of our hazelnuts to fatten up for the winter, but also like small insects, berries, chestnuts and even birds eggs.
Here’s a picture where you can see the bushy tail.
(From Wikimedia Commons)
Other characteristic features are the rounded ears (they have excellent hearing) and the large round eyes. They are so cute too!
Cool and grey, but a very happy garden after lots of rain yesterday. The forecast is good, with temperatures in the upper 20s by the end of the week. August has been such a lovely month this year, after the brain-numbing heat of July.
(In the foreground you may see I have finally found some attractive plant supports for the asters and achillea)
I’ve collected a few images of the garden over the last couple of weeks too. It’s been such gorgeous weather for taking pictures – take a look!
The swallows have been gathering to practice flying off to their winter quarters. A sure sign summer is drawing to a close, and one reason for the title of this post. Another reason: I’ve seen lots of grasshoppers and crickets this summer, which I think thrived in the dry spell we had in July. But this little fella hasn’t got his wings yet….
He rather likes the golden Cosmos sulphureus.
And stuck around to be photographed, showing off his very long antenna and his handsome legs.
One day he’ll be able to hop AND fly!
Do you see crickets or grasshoppers?
Oh, and since I now have that song in my head all the time, here’s the link: