Saturday, August 26, 2006

Got Fruit?

Recently, I sometimes I feel like Barbara from The Good Life. Moving out of the city has definitely changed our life - in some ways it has slowed down, but in other ways it has made us very busy indeed. There always seems to be something to do, and I'm not talking the never-ending DIY either!

Last week, we came back from our trip to the old nest, and thought we'd take a look at our little orchard. We'd been watching the fruit grow and change colour for quite some time, and in particular the plums had started to gain in size. As they were still green, though, we thought that they weren't quite ripe, a mistake on our part, as when D picked one he discovered that our yet-to-turn-red non-ripe plums were in fact Greengages, and more than just a little bit ripe!

That evening we picked 5 buckets full of Greengages, all deliciously sweet, and I am not even trying to reconstruct how many we ate there and then. Not that it even made a dent in the amount of fruit piled up on our kitchen counter.

Obviously, we had to come up with a quick solution to that much fruit or we'd have a fruit fly invasion on our hands, and we spontaneously decided to make Greengage jam. I wasn't able to find a recipe for this online (most plum jam seems to be made from Damsons, which we also have but which are not quite ripe yet), so I decided to just make it up. I used several kilos of Greengages (as much as would fit in the pot), some jam-making sugar (about 600g), cloves, a stick of cinnamon, and some ginger. I really wanted to add a bit of Rum, but we didn't have any (still in the old house), so I made do without it. The resulting jam did not quite thicken, at least not through the Pectin, but to make up for it I cooked it for long enough to get rid of excess liquid and removed the foamy residue at the top. This is what we got:

We ran out of jam jars, so had to use one pint glass and a bowl. I have no idea how long the jam will last, so we are trying to work out way though the open glasses as quickly as we can. The taste is delicious - sweet, but not too sweet, with a hint of acidity and just the merest hint of cinnamon and clove.

I hadn't made jam for at least 10 years, so I seriously need to brush up on my jam-making skills. There are still 2 more plum trees, so there is definitely more to come. Also, what do you do with 4 different varieties of apples (there is some kind of bug in them, so I don't think they will store for very long), and 2 varieties of pears?! Any ideas?

This whole self-sufficiency episode has spurred me on to finally do some sewing, and what better way to start than with an apron? Sherrill at BaaBonnyBelle was sewing aprons a while back and is also hosting an Apron KAL. The apron I made is inspired by her basic design, although I changed it a little:

I look huge in this picture! Not having any floor-length mirrors in this house (all this is still in the old house) means that I haven't seen the size of my belly in quite some time - it's enormous!!

But anyway, the apron - it's made from Amy Butler fabric and the design is quite basic. I added a big double pocket at the front, two long bits of fabric to tie the apron, and the tie around the neck is construced with one piece of fabric that is threaded through a button-hole on the other side and then knotted.

I have also started sewing some bags - an Amy Butler Nappy Bag, which is still not quite finished because I ran out of fabric and had to order some more, and a Swing Bag, which I finished last Saturday and which I have already been using all week. Here it is, photographed in our dusty hall:

I love the design. It's simple, neat, and very sturdy, and it can even be turned inside out if I get tired of the blue patterned fabric and want a plain brown bag.

And that is it for today. In case anyone is wondering, I have been knitting, but right now there I don't have much to show for. Maybe in a few days time!

Update on the Fabric Swap tomorrow!


  1. Love your nappy bag! I have the pattern for that but haven't made one yet. I have never been able to decide on fabrics!

  2. Applesauce -- and it freezes well according to a friend who does great bunches of it every year.

    And he (yep he) has had a few occasions when jams or jellies didn't thicken up completely and he just told everyone it was sauce for ice cream and people now request them. Kind of like knitting - it's not a mistake it's a design element.

    You may think you look huge but my first thought was ooohh she looks beautiful.

  3. Anonymous4:53 pm

    My mum used to make greengage jam when I was a kid. Just plums and sugar. It was so yummy. Make applesauce and slice apples for pies. You can freeze both so they are always on hand. And I agree with rho, you look beautiful, not huge.

  4. I love to make jam and other preserves that I can do with a water bath canner, as I'm terrified of my pressure canner. :)

    As for those apples and pears, why not a applesauce and a pearsauce. Great to bake with, if the fruit is sweet enough, you can make it without any sugar or very little. The "bean" would love homemade fruit sauce from his Mom, I bet ya!

    Great apron. You look lovely...pregnant and happy, what more can a girl want. The bag is great...hmm, gets me to thinking.

    Today put up four jars of "hot" salsa from the veggies in our garden and will be putting up a few jars of sweet garlic dill pickles also today, with the wonderful Russian neighbor that loves to leave items from her garden on our deck, which in turn, we leave bowls of fresh eggs for her.

    Hey, just mailed a package off to you for the bean. It went by boat vs. air mail, they wanted more than double the shipping and I figured it will still arrive before the baby makes it debut. Just remember, all was made with love, not perfection. As I get older, I tend to leave behind my anal perfection traits to my 20's and 30's.

    Best wishes from across the pond...Sherrill

  5. You don't look huge! You really look great and I love the new apron and bag!

  6. You are not huge until you are forced to give up driving because the babybelly is touching the steering wheel, believe me. ;o)

    Applesauce and pie filling are the favs here. Pearsauce was also a favorite at one time. I've always frozen the sauces and my mother canned the pie fillings.

  7. amy butler fabrics are simply the best. love your apron and bag!

  8. Anonymous12:00 pm

    Oh she's got a bell-eeeee. Not huge my dear - wait till you are 38 weeks....heh the look of the pint glass filled with jam. Don't this my husband would be very happy with that.

  9. Anonymous12:26 pm

    gosh, you have been sooo busy, I can't believe it. I love the apron and the belly. :)

  10. Anonymous3:07 pm

    hey there - you look marvelous! (I don't see a bit of fat.. just a baby belly growing nicely)
    Love your apron and the bag as well - nice job.
    and I think the jam will last a good long while - the sugar in it keeps it from spoiling :-)
    Your Yarn Aboard Yarn Pal

  11. Anonymous11:49 pm

    OOOh, greengage jam! yum. How about a pie or crumble?
    Your bump is coming along nicely! Very cute.

  12. Anonymous3:39 pm

    Sell the jam to me!!

  13. You don't look huge at all! I agree with whoever said you look beautiful. :)

    I should tackle and apron pattern. I have several yards of screenprinted cotton which would be perfect, and it would probably be a good beginning sewing project for me.

    I haven't made applesauce in a million years.