Autumn's here

Posted on 1st October, 2017

Well here we are again. October means it’s farewell to the abundance of the summer garden. The borlotti beans have all been collected and frozen, ready for autumn and winter recipes, the runner beans are coming to the end and the courgette plants are looking very forlorn. I’ve had a good crop of courgettes this year and have sautéed and frozen several bags ready for use and there’s no doubt that if we have a few mild days they’ll keep producing small fruits which can be added to the day’s dinner dish.

 

This year I only grew tomatoes outside from some seeds left over from last year. These were a potato leaf variety called Tamina. The fruits vary from quite large to reasonably small and despite the unpredictable summer weather the crop wasn’t bad. I picked and used some as they ripened in salads and in various curries, chillis and sauces but cooked some off and stored in bags in the freezer for use later in the year.

 

Today I gathered in thTomatoes in the gardenUnripe tomatoese last few semi-ripe and green fruits before the weather deteriorates and ruins them. I’ll try and ripen some of them off in the kitchen, popping a ripe fruit or a ripe banana in with the green ones encourages ripening (the scientific reason being that the ripe fruits give off ethylene which stimulates the green fruits to ripen too-it’s a natural process but I’m just giving nature a helping hand).

The unripe and remaining semi-ripe fruits will be cooked down and frozen or if I find the time and have the rest of the required ingredients I might make a chutney.

 

 

As well as tomatoes I’ve collected a few more raspberries, it wasn’t such a good year for them but I’ve frozen some, eaten a lot with cream (a simple but perfect dessert) and with any luck I’ll have enough to make raspberry gin. The beauty of making fruit gin is that it is really straightforward, traditionally sloes are used but you can use raspberries, blackberries, damsons or any of the raspberry hybrids such as Tayberries, Loganberries or Boysenberries. I daresay blueberries would make an amazing gin liqueur but I haven’t tried that yet.

I’ll post some instructions for making raspberry gin so you can have a go, it’s a very satisfying thing to do and the beauty of it is you can use pretty basic gin from the low-cost retailers which means it’s economical if you grow your own fruit or if you use reduced price fruits from the market or the supermarket (look out for these offers at day’s end when they’re trying to clear the shelves)

 

 

 

A new and quite fun addition to the vegetable garden this year is globe artichokes. Having never tried growing them before I’m quite please with the results. Although there’s only a couple of buds so far there are more in the wings and I’m looking forward to cooking them from fresh. I’ll share the results when it happens.

 

It’s not all doom and gloom going into winter, I have a few Cavolo Nero kale plants and a few purple sprouting broccoli plants developing so that I can pick fresh greens on occasion as well as a few winter lettuces and mixed salad leaves which will carry on through the autumn and if protected from the worst of the winter weather will provide fresh salad leaves throughout the coming cold months. I’m in North Wales so winters can be pretty cold, although more often they’re just wet, but even here we manage to produce enough fresh leaves

 

to supplement the shop bought vegetables.

Of course we mustn’t forget the rocket, the green stand-by of the vegetable patch. Cut it back and it sprouts again, covering it with fleece when there’s a severe frost will help to keep it going but apart from the deepest, coldest days there’s nearly always a handful to be picked and it’s always worth sowing 

a few seeds in a pot in the spring/summer and bringing the pot indoors in the winter.

 

 

 

 

A handful of rocket has been my saviour in the kitchen on many occasions. Go on try it. You won’t look back.

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