Tuesday 24 June 2014

Strawberry Jamming

This is the DDS' second annual strawberry jam making cooperative.  Last year we messed up Shannon's kitchen so this year it was my turn.  In one afternoon we processed about 20 pounds of strawberries into jam.  We chose to make batches of strawberry rhubarb, a lavender infused strawberry and a freezer strawberry jam.  Working together definitely makes the task less daunting.  This time around I washed and hulled the strawberries, while Shannon cut up rhubarb, prepared the jars (water bath to sanitize) and measured all the ingredients.  We follow the recipes that came with the pectin.

Below: Chopping rhubarb picked from Shannon's abundant patch

Below: Berries being washed in my sink in prep. for hulling (removing the stem).  My mom has a very old tool made especially for hulling strawberries.  I just push a small teaspoon into the top of the berry and twist out the hull.

Our folks picked up the two flats of berries from a local farm in Langley.  There is nothing like the flavour and colour of fresh local strawberries.  You can tell they are not GMO as they definitely don't keep for long and need to be eaten, frozen or jammed very quickly.

Below: Some of our lovely jars of jam.  The darker colour jars are the lavender infused and the lighter is the strawberry rhubarb.
For the Strawberry rhubarb we followed the recipe provided with the pectin.

To make the lavender infused jam, I packed two tea bags (designed for loose leaf tea) with fresh picked lavender, added to the strawberry mixture and let it infuse during the cooking and stirring portion of the process.  I removed the lavender bags before putting the jam into jars.  The flavour added is quite subtle.
If you have room in your freezer for freezer strawberry jam I highly recommend it.  For freezer jam you don't need to sterilize or seal your jars or containers and it tastes more like fresh picked strawberries than the cooked jam.  Often it is a little runnier than cooked jam and thus makes an amazing syrup for waffles or ice-cream.
Though I don't think we save money by making are own jam, it is satisfying to see the jars lined up on my shelf and know exactly all the ingredients that went into them.  It doesn't hurt to support local farmers too. 

Friday 13 June 2014

potato tower

I got sucked in by a pin on pinterest. I was innocently scrolling through pins when I came upon a picture of a potato tower. I visited the website and the project seemed easy enough and I happened to have extra galvanized wire fencing on hand so I figured this was a sign that I should make my very own potato tower. I also thought that the tower would save me space in my garden and prevent rogue potatoes from popping up in unwanted places the following growing season. This pin should have come with a warning: do not attempt on a windy day, it didn't. You are supposed to place straw around the inside perimeter of the wire fencing to keep the dirt from falling out.  When I attempted to place the straw it was flying everywhere, it didn't help that I had positioned the planters next to my chain link fence and had neighbours not only watching me fight with the flying straw but also giving me weird looks like what is the crazy gardening neighbour doing now.... It was about this time that I realized that digging a trench and throwing some potatoes in the ground is much easier than trying to make a potato highrise. Eventually I got my two towers built and planted. The potatoes are growing like wildfire and I'm looking forward to the first fresh creamy nugget potato. The verdict is still out as to whether I will plant potato towers next year.

Thursday 5 June 2014

Yellow spreads in my garden at an alarming rate

It seems yellow is a theme that can't be stopped in my out door space right now.  The yellow poppies have arrived in my east border.  I also received an outdoor toss cushion for my birthday with a mod yellow pattern.  Then I scored another free outdoor chair left at the end of a neighbours driveway.  It was a rattan style chair that I washed and sprayed a bright yellow which perked it up considerably.

Now if anyone has an organic solution to rid my grass of buttercups please let me know!  For now I'll try and appreciate them as another yellow addition to my yard.