Jams, wines, compotes, health drinks – John Stoa can always find a use for surplus fruit.
Back in childhood days, summer holidays away from school were often spent berry picking – raspberries and strawberries. We always brought back whatever spare fruit we could carry for jam.
Although it was very high in sugar, we were very active, outdoor kids surrounded with woods and hills, so we soon burned off the calories from a piece and jam. However, life moves on and everything changes.
Home-made jam is now a special treat brought out to impress and delight guests with tastes and flavours of summer.
As kids we just enjoyed the taste of fresh berries picked from the bush and eaten immediately. We had no idea that these were packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and would ensure good health.
Today there is such a wide variety of fruit available to grow that you can eat a very healthy diet of fresh fruit from the first strawberries at the end of May till the last greenhouse grapes in December, all from your own garden.
And then there are apples and pears stored in a frost-proof shed to extend the fresh fruit produce into spring in a good year.
We can eat all our cherries and figs as they ripen, but most other fruit goes into the freezer to be used as required for jam, compotes, summer puddings and muffins, or fermented to stock up my wine cellar.
Summer is jam-making time.
In my youth before freezers were invented, I would make about 100 jars of jam and store them in a cool place over winter. I could easily eat 2 lbs of jam a week.
However, today, jam is now made with fruit from the freezer, and I eat a bit less.
As the crops come in and our four freezers fill up, I will start my wine-making to make room for more berries. This year I plan to try gooseberry wine.
Our blackcurrant crop is so heavy that we will be trying some as a health drink high in vitamin C and antioxidants. This will be stored in plastic bottles in the freezer.