There’s nothing quite as sweet as a glut. Growing your own food is never as difficult as some people claim, and if you need proof, it’s the inevitable excess of home grown produce that even first time gardeners have little trouble achieving. It might be an overabundance of zucchinis one year, a massive haul of tomatoes the next. Either way it’s a glut, and I can honestly say that since I started growing food 15 years ago, not a summer has passed when I haven’t palmed at least something off to neighbours and family.
This summer it’s blackberries. The season started back in early December with Waldo, a relatively tame thornless variety, and is now reaching monumental proportions with Chester, another thornless variety that bears humongous crops of fat, slightly tart fruit. The canes are so loaded in this hot, dry summer that they’re arching toward the ground, and each morning Kylie comes in with a basketful of berries. They’re beautiful eaten fresh, but there’s simply too many to consume while they’re at their best. The solution – turn the fruit into jam.
In our dining room we have an old leadlight dresser that’s more or less dedicated to holding empty jars and bottles. As winter arrives, these jars are returned to the dresser full of preserves, not least of which is a range of home made jams. Our favourite is made from Isabella grapes, but I’ve just tasted a batch of blackberry jam Kylie has boiling away on the stove and it’s amazing. Complex, not overly sweet, and very blackberry-ish. Summer in a bottle.
Just five jars have been filled today (1.2kg worth of fruit – how much would that cost in the supermarket!), but there’s still kilos of berries ripening and the old dresser will quickly start to fill. I fyou want to experience true security, you won’t find it in a job or a bank account. Look to the garden. A well stocked woodpile, a full rainwater tank, a bountiful fruit and vegie patch, and a cupboard stacked with preserves. These are the best sources of security I can think of.