Saturday 30 August 2014

A lovely bike ride and beautiful black berries

On a family outing to Madingley, we stopped off to pick the black berries that were begging to be picked.
So nice to see that the boys (now 21 and 22) are still just as exciting about foraging as they were when they were small.

Michael has been back picking since and made loads of delicious jam. I picked for Kelley for her blackberry gin for Christmas and the rest I turned into some summer fruit cordial. MMMM!

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Courgettes, Marrows and Zucchinis galore - Let's make Veggie Bacon!

Every year it is the same. I intend to grow a couple of courgette plants (one yellow,  one green) then I sow a few extra just in case...

When they all come up, what do you do with them all. You hand some to your allotment friends, but they too had the same thought and have too many. Can't stand waste so all 6 plants end up the allotment as you never know, the slugs may eat one or two and at least you have some left over. No slugs in sight, at least not around the courgette plants so come July the courgettes come out of our ears. My boys used to ask: "what is for dinner, Mum". For weeks on end I would say, courgette soup, courgette cake, courgette bread, ratatouille, courgette curry and then one day I told them it was zucchini soup. They were over the moon. finally something different for courgettes!  (if only they knew... but I knew)

Then my friend Helen came over who also had a mass of marrows. She mentioned that she makes Vegetarian bacon out of it. I was intrigued and keen to try it.
After that day, I always have Vegetarian bacon in the house. It keeps and is a great substitute for smoked bacon and smoked salmon. I use it in soups, on pizza's, in sushi, omelets, quiches. It is really tasty and versatile.

Here is what you do.

with a thin slicer, slice the marrow length ways until you reach the seed stage.then turn around and slice away the other side etc.

Once done, make a strong salt solution (brine) and leave the slices to soak for 30 or so minutes.
Squeeze out as much water as you can and hang in the sun (on the washing line) They will shrink enormously and with some strong sunshine will dry in a day.  I have been know to leave on top of a woodburning stove in a summer without sun and warmth.

Then I sent this off to Helen, whose husband David has made a cold smoker. With some of the cherry chips I had kept after cutting down some branches of my cherry tree, they smoked the dried marrow slices and sent them back to me for us to enjoy during the following year. Delicious!

It is very strong so you need not use a lot.

A great alternative to the cakes,breads and soups. Hope it inspired you to try

Friday 15 August 2014

another outing for the press- how exciting!

Rebecca very kindly picked and froze a few bags of damsons that had fallen off her tree in the allotment (heavy rain and winds over the weekend), whilst having a love cuppa on her terrace I noticed in the distance a beautiful apple tree full of red apples.

Come to think of it, I was surrounded by gardens with apples, figs and other fruits, a veritable feast!
When I asked Rebecca about that amazing apple tree, she mentioned that she picks some very day as it is in a garden of a house rented by students.

We promptly set off and picked a few bags.

Laden with damsons and apples, I set off for Garden Walk and within 1/2 hour all were turned into 3 liters of delicious apple juice, mixed with  some the cooking apples I picked from Kate's garden.
A little bit tart maybe, but a great start.

Also fantastic timing as the next day the bin men came to pick up the green wheelie bins, so no fruit flies at our house!

Wednesday 13 August 2014

So lovely to meet Pip

Whilst walking through the carpark of St Luke's church I noticed that the greengages and damson were dropping fast and furiously. I decided to go back and get some bags to rescue them.
I heard voices at the other side of the fence so asked if it was OK to pick the fruit.
A kind lady then asked me to come around and pick the fruit on her side too.  Running out of time, we arranged to meet a little later in the day.

Armed with a helper (my son Tom) we came back and picked loads for my friend, Kelley, a large bowl for Pip's friend, another bowl for herself and we still have a huge bag to put on the Abundance table in front of our home.  It only took 20 minutes, made a lovely friend in the process and provided fruit to a hand full of local people.  Simple!

I had promised Pip a jar of jam made with my strawberry puree (left over from my strawberry juice making) and  her damsons that I picked earlier in the week, but had forgotten to take it with me.

When I returned later to drop at her doorstep, I notice a little bit further in the gutter some cooking apples. I walked on and found a gorgeous cooking apple tree, dropping its fruit.
When I knocked on the door of the owner, Chris and Fiona (the owners very grown up children) gave me a bit of history of the area. shared some fun stories about the apple harvest they used to do with their mum when they were children and invited me to come back and pick them all.

I picked some up on the way back, turned them into 'Monique's apple crumblies' some for us to enjoy and the rest will be taken back to Chris and Fiona to give to their mum, who has now moved to a home.

What a great way to get to know your lovely neighbours. I can recommend it to anyone!

Monday 11 August 2014

Our first Abundance Cambridge outing

Today, before the storm that is forecast for the coming days, I have decided to harvest what I could from neighbouring gardens and parks.

Only a minute walk from my home, I found a greengage, red cob nut, damson, and cooking apple. All were dropping their fruit in the road, so it was promptly rescued and put on a little table in front of our home to be redistributed.

To my great happiness I found that within the hour some of the fruit had been taken. Anything left tonight I will turn into something tasty as I plan to have fresh supply every day for the foreseeable future.

Watch this space

Sunday 10 August 2014

Kate's cry for help turned out to be a lovely afternoon for all concerned

Kate sent an SOS out to the Transition food group. Reggie, Mark and I managed to make it today.
Armed with pickers, bags and sheets we tackled this beautiful cooking apple tree in the back of Kate's yard.

After an hour of picking, we called it a day. Had a cup of tea with delicious apple cake baked by Penny.
We all walked/cycled off with loads of apples pondering on what we will do with them.

Kate is planning to make chutney
Penny is baking
Reggie will be drying, making fruit leather and chutneys
and I am planning to juice it all with both my apple press and my 'entsafter'.
I hope to make enough to share with the others and swap some with their produce.

We shall see how it works out.

Top Picture: Kate showing off her WARNER'S KING apples, Reggie high up in the tree

Can I process the apples before the storm hits?

With the tail end of Hurricane Bertha forecast to hit us this morning, I decided to wake up early, set up camp in the garden and press the apples picked yesterday.
Mark helped me set up the little gazebo, the cutting and cleaning table and the press so that we could turn the harvest into delicious juice.

This is the first time I used the press since we  moved here and although compact, it probably worked even better than in the past. wheelie bin nearby for the apple waste (great timing as the bins will be picked up on Tuesday) the hose on hand for cleaning up the press and table afterward, and within minutes of pressing it was bottled and pasturised. Well some of it, as I felt the mix of Kate's cooking apples and the windfalls of Clara's eaters was not as balanced a taste as I wanted it to be. I have frozen most until I find a sweet apple tree, then I will mix and bottle for storing this winter.

Plum Crumble - tip for de-stoning

Yesterday whilst having a lovely get together with Kate, Reggie, Penny and Mark we were chatting about how we process certain fruit.  My good friend Thea from West Bridgford is the queen of Plum and Damson jams, she once told me that the way she takes out the stones is by freezing them first overnight, then defrost on the day of use, although messy, the stones pop out with ease and you can be assured no one ends up at the dentist with a cracked tooth.

As in the past I tried various ways and always missed a stone or two. I have now adopted Thea's tip and shared it with my new found friends in Cambridge.

Will be making this Plum Crumble by later. Plums are defrosting.

Recipe from Good Food website

Saturday 9 August 2014

Letter to the neighbours

Dear Neighbour,

Recently I have noticed we have an abundance of ripening fruit and nuts in our area going to waste.
At this time of year, it is hard for owners of these trees to harvest and process all the produce whereas others without trees might love the taste of Garden Walk.

So I have set up a little table today in front of our home, 4 Garden Walk, which, depending on the produce and weather, I will fill up daily for people to help themselves.

If you would like others to enjoy your tree’s abundance of fruit or vegetables, (figs, grapes, apples, pears, plums, damsons, walnuts, hazel nuts, courgettes, herbs, etc.) feel free to leave some here.*

If you want some help picking your fruit, just leave your details in my letter box and I will organise a picking crew. Anyone interested in picking, again leave your details and I will contact you.

Thank you.

*PS. Don’t leave too large a quantity, better little and often so that it is fresh every day. Otherwise I will have to find a way to dispose of the excess.

Plums Plums glorious plums

Just across the road from me in St Luke's car park  greengages and damsons are dropping on the floor.
It was a joy to meet Philippa who let us pick the abundance and distribute it to Kelly for the Christmas damson gin and friends of Garden Walk Abundance initiative, who came and picked them up from the little table outside my house.

Description of Cambridge Gage Trees & Fruit:
The Cambridge Gage is one of the most popular greengage trees. It is a reliable cropper and also self fertile. The sweet fruit are equally good for eating fresh and making jam. The trees are naturally compact and shouldn't require any pruning.
Browse all of our other Plum, Gage & Damson Trees for Sale here.
Characteristics of Cambridge Gage Trees:
  • Self fertile.
  • Crops in Late August.  (this year it was a bit earlier than that)
  • Pollination group D
Growing Cambridge Gage Plum Trees:
Rich soil is important - dig in plenty of good manure and compost before planting.
Soil drainage must be good.
The more sun your trees get the better your crops will be.
Cambridge Gage Rootstocks:
Your trees are grown on the semi-dwarfing rootstock Pixy. This is perfect for wire-trained shapes like fans and it can also make a freestanding tree 3 metres high.
Pollination Partners for Cambridge Gage:
Your trees must be pollinated to make fruit. Your trees are in pollination group D, which means that they will cross pollinate with trees in groups C, D and E of our plum tree pollination table.
History & Parentage of Cambridge Gage:
Your trees were bred in Cambridge by Chivers & Son and were trialled in 1927. They are a seedling of the venerable Old Greengage.

Saturday 2 August 2014

What will be, will be

My new venture is such a joy.
Simple and full of surprises.
Yesterday, I put out on my little table a large basket of cooking apples from Ruth's garden.

When I looked later in the day, half the cooking apples had gone, plums had been donated and so were a few eating apples and walnuts.

The postman asked if he could have a few apples for on his round. Ofcourse he can! Who ever, when ever wants some of the fruit, just helps themselves. Be grateful for the abundance of our area and be on their way again.  He is now on the look out of trees on his round that are going to waste so hopefully soon we can rescue that fruit too.

By the end of the day, we had 3 apples left. I think I will make some apple sauce with them

Summing up the day.
Met some lovely people along the way and be in the knowledge that the food has gone to some good homes.  A great day!

Friday 1 August 2014

I feel a little like Father Christmas!

This morning I did not have any fruit to give away other than a left over basket of Kate' cooking apples and a large marrow that had been sitting in my kitchen and I had no idea what to do with.

So later in the day after the rain had cleared my little table went outside again. I found £1 on the doorstep. Someone must have left it, there was no need, but I will put it towards the purchase of a stronger apple picker.

Just the apples and the marrow and a bag with plastic bags hanging on my gate.
When I looked a few hours later, the marrow and some of the apples had gone and some Rhubarb had appeared.

The system is working!  A low maintenance and simple way to redistribute local fruit.
Long may it last