Welcome to the Secret Garden South of Bobber's Mill Bridge in Nottingham

Welcome to Windmill Community Gardens, home of the Climate Friendly Gardeners Project.

We are a group of local people, who are nurturing a wonderful community garden in the heart of the city. You'll find us just South of Bobbersmill Bridge, on the allotment site at the South end of Ascot Road. The Gardens are a great place where anyone can come to find out more about growing their own food in a changing climate. We cater for all abilities and welcome any nationality or age group.

Why not come and join us?

Thursday 9 October 2014

Preserving - with friends

It was great to welcome our friends from Gateway to Nature again today, for a session on preserving. It also meant an outing for Tracey's fabulous "apple slinky maker". These were first made in the 1880s, (see here for details), but if you want one today, you can just nip down to Lakeland and buy one - pretty much exactly like the original design!

The famous apple slinky maker

Apple slinky!

We love making jams and chutneys at Windmill, as well as drying, fermenting and making cordials, so we like to share the knowledge when we can. Today we covered green tomato chutney, sauerkraut,  plum jam and apple butter. We also did a Mexican themed lunch, to take advantage of all the lovely beans we've just podded at the end of the season. Everyone enjoyed refried beans with fresh tomato salsa and quesadillas (i.e. flour tortillas with melted cheese in between them - to easy to post a recipe!).

Stirring up the chutney

Potting up - a jam funnel really helps

Whilst we were chopping and stirring, Hassan, Chris and Andrea got on with the job of preparing the garden for the end of the season, taking out weeds and removing the last of the Shark's Fin Melons - we've had a huge crop this year, so if anyone would like some, let us know. We were also delighted to be joined by Mac, from Kimberley and by  Brian who managed to come along for a little while to have a think about how he will improve the wood shed. 

Hassan shows why Shark's Fin Melons do so well.
Look at that root!

Shark's Fin Melons from the harvest - these are the small ones!

All the recipes we did are below. We hope you will enjoy making them as much as we did!

Green Tomato Chutney

3lb green tomatoes
1lb onions
2.5lbs apples - peel and chop into 1cm cubes or smaller
1lb demerara sugar (can add a small amount of dark brown sugar to ordinary white to get the same effect more cheaply).
1 pint vinegar (I prefer cider vinegar, but almost any vinegar will work).
½ lb sultanas or raisins (rinse in hot water to remove any taste of rancid oil).
1tsp cayenne (this can be reduced or increased to taste)
1 tsp ground ginger
(can also add coriander seed to add a lemony kick).

Chop tomatoes and onions into roughly 1cm cubes. Sprinkle with salt and leave overnight then drain and rinse in morning. (I usually leave this step out, with good results, but it will make the chutney sweeter if that is what you prefer).

Put in a large preserving pan with a heavy base. Add the chopped apples, sugar, vinegar, raisins and the spices.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours.

Cooking up the chutney - stir regularly to prevent it sticking

Pot up in jars with screw-top lids with a rubber seal, for the longest life, put a wax disk on top of the chutney before sealing it.

Plum or Damson Jam

5lbs damson or plum flesh
5lbs sugar
1/2 pint water
knob of butter

Wash and stone the fruit. Put 1/2 pint of water and fruit into a jam pan or other large heavy-based saucepan.

Bring to the boil and simmer until the fruit breaks up and makes lots of liquid (takes about 1/2 an hour as long as you keep the pot out of the wind!). Don't worry if there are a few lumps left. If you don't have much time or hand problems, it's ok to just boil up the whole fruit, though you will need to skim off the stones. In that case, take off about ½ lb in your calculation of the weight of fruit.

Fishing for stones - actually quite a fun job if you make
it a competition!

Add the sugar and a knob of butter - this helps stop a build up of foam on top of the jam. Stir until you can't feel the sugar on the bottom any more, then taste it, because the fruit can vary a lot in acidity depending on how ripe it is. You can add up to another pound of sugar if necessary. Now bring it back to the boil and boil hard for about 10-15 minutes.

Then test for a set - put a few drops of jam onto a china plate, let it cool slightly then push it with your finger. If the surface forms wrinkles, the jam is ready. Turn off the heat and ladle the jam into sterilized jars. Keep some bread ready to wipe the last scrapings of jam off the pan and make sure to eat it!

NB - If your saucepan is smaller than a jam pan, make sure you don't overload it, or the jam may boil over. The pan shouldn't really be more than 2/3rds full once the fruit and sugar are added. Boiling jam can cause severe burns and should be handled with care.

Refried beans

 1lb / 450g fresh podded beans, 1 mug dried or 2 cans of beans
1 large onion
ground cumin to taste

Prepare the beans as necessary – for fresh, just add water to cover, bring to the boil and simmer until soft. For dried, soak the beans overnight then boil and simmer as above. Or just open the tins and drain the beans.  Once soft, mash the beans with a potato masher.
(NB. Don’t add salt as it makes the skins tough).

Mashing the beans

Finely chop the onion and sweat in around 1 tablespoon of olive oil until soft. Add around 2 teaspoons cumin and stir in (you can add more if liked). Add the mashed beans and a little salt to taste. Stir in and heat through.

Tomato Salsa

1lb / 450g tomatoes
1 mild onion
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
Small bunch coriander leaves
Salt to taste

Juice the lemon or lime. Chop all other ingredients and mix. Add juice and salt to taste. Serve with refried beans and cheesy tortillas for a hearty lunch.

Adding lemon juice to taste


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