Oh my goodness! All of a sudden we have been inundated with fruit from the orchard and vegetables from the garden. While it hasn’t been a great year for everything (I’m looking at you cucumbers and cherry tomatoes!!), we are inundated with fruit and vegetables needing to be eaten or else processed and stored for the winter. We are busy! After last summer, when we were deep in the farmhouse renovation, and the garden took a backseat, we are ready to get into the kitchen and get our depleted stores up.
The orchard is really coming on now. Our stone fruit is abundant, and we can never hope to eat all the fruit while it is still fresh. The prune plums grow easily, so we are sun drying them on the rack we made a few years back. We found an old roof rack at the dump and bought it home, gave it a good scrub and then stretched some fly screen over it. The legs of the rack allow the air to circulate really well around the fruit. We’ve placed it on our north facing veranda to get as much sun as possible and bring it inside at night. CB uses the dried plums in his homemade muesli. I’ve already made peach chutney from the peaches as well as plum jam. There are also some containers of stewed peaches and nectarines in the freezer ready to make pies and crumbles over winter. There’s nothing like the taste summer goodness on a cold winters night. I’m still hoping to find an apricot tree full of fruit on the side of the road so I can make apricot jam. Our tree was only planted last year, so it will be a few more years before we have our own.
The apples are also beginning to come in. So far we’ve harvested a whole lot of Geevestown Fannys (large red apples) and Campbelltown Russets (small green and russet apples). The Geevestown Fannys are great all-rounders which I have been putting through the apple slinky machine and then drying in our dehydrator. The kids love dried apples, so I’m trying to get lots laid down for winter school lunch box snacks, though they are eating them almost as quickly as I can dry them at the moment.
The Campbelltown Russets taste amazing when cooked, so I’m keeping some aside to be used in dinners over the coming months, and I’m also going to stew a whole lot to have with our pork over the winter.We still have a lot more apples and plums to come from the orchard, and we haven’t even started on the pears and quinces yet. We’ve also harvested a handful of hazelnuts which we will just eat (though we need to get a nutcracker), though, in future years, I might try hazelnut butter.
In the garden, the corn hasn’t had it’s best year. While we are getting some cobs, we’ve not had as many as some years. We want to freeze bags of kernels to pull out for dinner over winter, so we will have to see whether we get enough. The cucumbers are also not doing so well. We had hoped to make some cucumber pickles again this year, but I’m not sure we’re going to have enough.
The tomatoes are coming in quickly now. As I type I have my first batch of tomato passata sauce on the stove cooking. We have none in the pantry at all, so I’m hoping to get at least 25 or 30 jars put away to use until next year. If I get enough sauce made, I also want to semi-dry some and then pop them in oil and herbs.
The strawberries have not done well this year. Their garden is in a strange spot now that we have our extension, and so just this evening we were debating where to move them, together with the asparagus and the rhubarb which all share a garden bed. Once the Summer harvest begins to slow, we have big plans to sort out the garden. New fences, new paths and garden edges, and a rearrangement of the beds. Perhaps even a raised bed or two.
All in all, it’s a season where we hustle to store as much summer goodness away so that we can enjoy the bounty of our harvest all year round. It’s one of my favourite things to do on the farm!