It is that time of year when things start to grow like billy-o. Everyone I know seems to be making plum jam as the trees are literally dripping with fruit. Fortunately, I have been collecting glass jars for a while, so am able to join in the bottling frenzy. Today was a cold, mizzly, drizzly day – perfect for hanging about in the kitchen.
I can hardly say I ‘picked’ the fruit – I simply ran my hand down the branches holding a basket underneath and collected 1,6kgs in no time. Obviously, I try to eat as many as I can fresh, but there are just too many and the ground under the tree is really squishy with fallen fruit. The pot-bellied pig, Petula, usually pitches in to help, but even she has been defeated by the sheer volume this year.
My jam making is very trial and error and some years I really only get syrup, but this year it seems to have set. I use equal weights of fruit and sugar. I roughly chop the fruit and leave all the stones in (too difficult to get out anyway). Then I layer fruit and sugar in a pan and leave overnight to dissolve. In the morning I boil up for an hour at least – sometimes a little longer and Hey Presto! It’s Jam! Astonishing. I fish out as many of the pips as I can once it is cooked and pour into hot jars.
The parsley plants have also been prolific, so I have been pounding it up with pecan nuts, olive oil and salt to make pesto. Quite different from the usual basil and pine nut affair, but really interesting and quite delicious. The pecans are not from Dargle, but grown in Hilton. Lots of people do grow pecans here, but the Cape Parrots seem to get most of them. When Walnuts are around (closest supplier is in the Swartberg) I prefer to make walnut and parsley pesto. I also have a recipe for Walnut and Fennel pesto which I am keen to try sometime. Pesto (which literally means ‘to pound’ in Italian) is absolutely perfect with pasta. Particularly my favourite brand, Pasta Perfecta, which is made in Kranskop.
So I made 6 jars of jam and 6 jars of pesto (not exactly self sufficient!) and they are already disappearing from my kitchen to passersby…..