This is basically one of my favourite subjects ever. I love making my own sauces and jams, and buying beautiful fruits and vegetables in the summer to preserve over the winter.
I have a bit of a thing for keeping things like that alive, stuff that convenience dictates we push aside, kitchen goings-on we associate with our Nanas.
I like being in the kitchen and making things with my hands. I love making the blankets we huddle under on a cold night, and preserving the apples we put in our crumble we eat while we’re under them.
So every year, I make a point of taking the kids berry-picking (school holiday activity: TICK) and then we make jam enough to last us the year from our haul. One year we even made a blackberry pie as well, we picked so much. The girls were right into Peter Rabbit at the time and listened to the audiobook every single night while they were going to sleep (so much so, Biggie could recite the entire first chapter by heart at 4 years old, it was SO CUTE! She misheard “stop, thief!” and would yell “stop, beef!”, bless her 😂) so blackberry picking was a major hit.
This year, I figured the Triple J Hottest 100 Weekend would be a perfect time to have a sauce-a-thon. My brother and his girlfriend wanted to learn how to make all the relishes and things stocked in my pantry, so I invited them down from Deniliquin for the weekend for beers, music, 15kg of tomatoes, and a backyard BBQ (in lieu of Australia Day cos #changethedate please).
So here’s what we ended up making (two days isn’t a long time when things need hours of boiling, so we kept the list woefully shorter than we’d have liked. Summer ain’t over yet, though). I’ll link these to recipes on the site, some of which are on their way, but will hopefully all get you to the right page!)
Sweet Pantry Items
We made strawberry jam, mixed berry jam (strawberry and blackberry), and raspberry jam. From memory we picked around about 5kg of fruit (and I had to buy 1kg of frozen raspberries as they were already out of season by then).
Savoury Pantry Items
Tomato sauce/ketchup, and tomato relish a must. Smoky-sweet barbecue sauce, hot chilli sauce, capsicum jam/relish, (whatever you want to call it), and a sugo for that night’s pasta dinner, which I was just finishing up when the HUMBLE dance party broke out.
It was all hands on deck for the tomato peeling that day, because 15kg takes a minute! I had planned on getting a tomato press or a mouli in the days leading up to the sauce-at-thon but never quite made it. We ended up just peeling all these and squeezing them with our hands when it was time to put them in the pot – no chopping.
My poor sister-in-law Rani got tasked with chopping onions, I’m not sure I’ll be forgiven anytime soon.
My brother Jake has spent some time in commercial kitchens, so he flew through his chopping like the king of knives. Don’t tell him I said, that, or I’ll have to start addressing him as that forever now until I die.
We put in a solid 12 hours of chopping, boiling, stirring, and pouring into jars, and started the next day off with just the chilli sauce and capsicum jam left to do.
Jake and Rani were headed home that lunchtime, so while they were busy readying themselves, I popped a batch of scones in the oven to have with their jam when they got home. Just realised I don’t have my scone recipe on the blog? UNACCEPTABLE. This will be rectified in due course. I do apologise. They’re bloody good scones.
Edited to add: The scone recipe!
Looking for more summer harvest goodness?
I’ve got a post here on 30 Things to Do with Ripe Tomatoes, including a link to an enchilada sauce I canned a few years ago, which was so good, and another barbecue sauce I’d like to try but still haven’t.
I also dig making:
- Pear, cinnamon, and vanilla bean jam
- pickled cucumbers
- bread and butter pickles
- pickled onions
- corn relish
- beetroot relish
you know, all the good stuff. Every year I buy the amazing organic mixed veg boxes from Rohan at Whole Larder Love and sometimes there’s so much in there that my family can’t get through it in a week (aka my kids eat like sparrows), so I’m often freezing or preserving it all for later on. I’m always grateful I did when I want proper corn in winter!
And for shits and giggles, I found this on my camera. I’ll spare you the other shots. I don’t swan around with my scones and hand-peeled tomato relish like a gift from heaven, I’m just an old battleaxe in an apron. But you get fed well from my kitchen!