As we officially leave winter behind us and head towards the warmer months, what could be more inspiring than today’s Summer in a Bottle Guest Blog from Rohan Anderson?! Looks like Rohan knows how to a throw a pretty darn good preserving party too! – Jenny x
Picking wild blackberries as a kid is one of those fond childhood memories of mine, fitting somewhere between my first uncomfortable kiss and copping one in the jewels playing country cricket – good times. In summer we’d carry a few buckets out to the bush or along the roadsides where the berries were plentiful, trying our best to avoid the snakes to fill our buckets with the edible weed that is the Blackberry. Returning home with buckets full and satisfied souls, we’d hand the loot over to Mum, who’d set to work in the kitchen making jam.
At the time it seemed like a complex process, with a lot of measuring and stirring – I obviously wasn’t a smart kid to be so puzzled by such a simple process. The end result was a jam that kept us kids happy every morning during winter. We’d smother the sweet delight on fresh baked bread before catching the country bus to school.
Time warp to a few years ago…..where I had a massive harvest of zucchini and pondered what to do with all these phallic monsters that constantly made all the women giggle, which might I add was wearing thin. Surely I could do as my Mum did all those years ago and conjure up some sort of recipe so as not to waste such a good food resource. Being the manly man I am, I immediately referred to my 1980’s CWA cook book handed down from Mum (I’m determined to be the first man to join, one day my friends… one day).
After some research I found a plethora of tried and tested country recipes to make all sorts of relishs and chutneys. I noticed a repeated pattern of using, sugar, malt vinegar, salt and a few spices, how hard could this be? I was intent on spicing things up a little; I wanted to make something with a good kick to it, I am a man after all.
My first chutney I figured had nothing to lose – there were plenty of zucchini in my garden, so if it failed I could just make another batch. As it turned out the very first batch worked really well, with plenty of chilli, spice and mustard seeds. It worked well in toasted sandwiches, focaccia and with BBQ meals. Like that first kiss, I’d found something I liked doing, and I did well. Now when I plan the new season’s veg crop I over sow some veg ensuring there’ll be a little extra come harvest time, just so I can make a relish. I take care to pester everyone I know, asking for bottles and jars, but return the love by giving them summer in a bottle.
Each season we have our regular stuff to preserve that keeps our larder stocked; a tomato passata, pickled olives, lemon, chilli and mushrooms, relishes and chutneys too boot, and yes we make blackberry jam along with many other jams.
We often get offered peoples’ excess produce, which we gladly accept and preserve into something useful. I suppose it’s a bit of a lost tradition with most of these items easily obtained at the supermarket, but for us its just part of a food cycle. And the best thing is we made it, we know how it was produced, and honestly it just tastes better.