Saturday, February 7, 2009

Freezing frenzy

No, the title isn’t referring to the temperature around here, alas. We are looking down the barrel of 40 degree temperatures around here today. It’s the sort of weather where you can hang out a load of washing at 8am and it well and truly dry by 9am.

One of my favourite books is A Wild Herb Soup by Emilie Carles. It is her memoir of life in country France early last century and paints a vivid picture of peasant life, with all its pleasures and challenges. I love it because I can imagine this is how my Italian forbears lived. In it she talks about how busy the villagers were in the summer time, digging and planting, tending crops and preserving the results, working, working without a moment to rest. This year I have an inkling of just what she means.

Yesterday and today have been spent in a freezing frenzy, as I deal with the bounty from the garden. The other day I blogged about our baseball bat zucchinis. Yesterday I took two of them and sliced them finely. Then these were blanched for about 3 minutes, drained, packed freezer bags and frozen. Result: 3 500gram bags of zucchini.

I have just done the same with some pattypan squash, as you see in the picture. These things are doing really well at the moment, probably a bit too well. They are growing faster than I can pick them! They seem to be leaping from 20c piece size to 10cm across overnight.

The Golden Queen peaches are just starting to come on too. This is so exciting because last year’s crop were absolutely wrecked by marauding fruit fly. We had to chuck kilos and kilos of peaches and plums. It was pretty tragic really. This year, though, no fruit fly, whether by good luck or good management I don’t know. And the peach tree is loaded. So yesterday I blanched a couple of kilos, peeled and seeded them, then diced them and packed them in a very light sugar syrup ready for cakes and desserts later in the year.

I’ve also made some pickled beetroot for the first time this week. With these I simply boiled the beetroot, then peeled and diced them. Then I packed them in jars in a solution of sugar, white vinegar, cinnamon and peppercorns which had been simmered for 20 minutes. I’m the only fan of beetroot around here. The kids and Action Man only eat it when I crack the whip, so I suspect the pickled beetroot will be mine, all mine!

BTW, we’ve just finished eating our crop of white peaches. One bite of these peaches, and honestly, you know all the work you put into your garden is worth it. They were so sweet and dripping with juice. Complete luxuries.

Early this morning I got out early and watered eveything and draped sheets and tablecloths around the garden to make a bit of shade over our most vulnerable plants. Still, I am sure we will lose a couple of things. What do you do to coddle your plants through the hottest summer weather?

1 comment:

Linda said...

I've only tried pickling beetroot with Sausetta, we enjoyed the flavour.

We had some gorgeous tasting peaches at our old house in our hometown. I think my uncle planted any good tasting peaches he ate. I had forgotten about how nice they were until I read your post.