• Actual Manor House

    Blackberries: from bramble to bread

    I went blackberry picking this morning, which I’ve been feeling torn up about having had no time to do. (I genuinely feel better for having gone.) I’d found a good run of them a couple weeks ago and went to check it out, to great success:

    That’s over a kilo of berries picked in about 45 minutes, which I felt was a pretty good haul. While I was picking, one woman walking by said, “Good day for picking!” and another one who had been out picking yesterday actually stopped to talk to me (Her: I always feel SO GUILTY when I drive by these berries! Me: YOU UNDERSTAND ME!!!!), and that was really nice because almost everybody who’s spoken to me about picking at all thinks I’m bonkers.

    So I came home and washed the berries

    and got them into the pot

    and made jam


    and three hours after I started picking blackberries, I had homemade blackberry jam on fresh homemade bread.

    Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. :)

    I then made PEAR JAM because we have STUPID NUMBERS of pears on our pear trees (there are by far more pears fallen to the ground than we have had at all, in previous years at this house), and it is wonderful. I had no idea if it’d be any good because I’ve never had it, much less made it, but it’s pretty splendid. It starts out sweet and kind of apple-y and then suddenly it’s like NO WAIT THIS IS *PEAR* JAM!!! and it’s really good! And Ted, who likes pears (or at least processed pears) thought it was wonderful, so I’m very pleased with myself.

    Tomorrow I have ambitions of making pear jelly, because I have An Awful Lot Of Pears here, and I bet that’ll be really nice too. And I gotta start doing something with the crabapples and the appleapples and…*despair*

    (I mean, I gather other people can just walk on by fruits of the trees and whatnot without even flinching, but me and that lady from this morning, WE JUST CAN’T DO IT.)

    (We’re gonna get a pressure cooker. That way I can make applesauce and canned (or at least jarred) pears and…other stuff…that will last if pressure-cooked but won’t otherwise.)

  • crabapple jelly & jam, blackberry jam / apple jam & jelly, strawberry jam, raspberry jam
    Actual Manor House,  Cooking,  Daily Life,  Food,  Gardening

    apples apples everywhere

    We picked apples on Sunday. This warped panorama does not do justice to the numbers of apples currently residing in our entryway:

    apples

    The bag in the back corner, and the white box, which is like 2×3′ or something, are also full of apples. There are So Many Apples. There’s a fairly large bag already missing, too, as I sent one home with my sister.

    A friend just dropped by and took away the small box next to the plant pots and the black bag at the foot of the photo, which made a small but visible dent. Ted said, “I can fix that. Want me to go pick more apples?”

    I gave him the look he deserved. :)

    I’ve been making apple jelly and jam almost daily. Now that we have ALL OF THESE off the trees I need to start apple butter, but it requires peeling so many apples I have to get started early or I’ll be doing apple butter at midnight.

    Here are the jams I’ve made so far. Soon they’ll be available on Etsy. Soon!

    crabapple jelly & jam, blackberry jam / apple jam & jelly, strawberry jam, raspberry jam
    crabapple jelly & jam, blackberry jam / apple jam & jelly, strawberry jam, raspberry jam

    This weekend I’m going to be bringing some to Octocon. If you happen to be going and see this post, there’s a poll here to ‘pre-order’ the jams you’d like, just to try to give myself a sense of how many I should bring. (Don’t fill it out if you’re not going to Octocon but want jam. The Etsy store will be up soon!)

    There are still so many apples on the trees, omg. Oh, the crabapples:

    crabapples

    13 pounds picked in half an hour, and that was literally only the low-hanging fruit on the tree. There’s got to be at least twice this again. I’m thinking of making crabapple butter, which I’ve never tried. I bet it’ll be an amazing color.

    Anyway there’s still hundreds of apples on the main tree and we DISCOVERED a random fifth apple tree in the front corner of our garden a couple of weeks ago and there’s the one tree that fell half down and IDK if it’s worth trying to shake the apples out of it because most of them are growing over a hedge, and there’s the other tree that hasn’t fallen down and we haven’t even made a *stab* at it yet.

    I’ve got so many apple recipes, but we can’t EAT this much!

  • Actual Manor House,  Food,  Gardening

    a fruit problem

    We discovered we have a crabapple tree in the front garden. Chaos immediately ensued, resulting in this:

    crabapples

    I may have a fruit problem.

    Today I washed and chopped and boiled and strained all EIGHT POUNDS of those, and by the time I was done I was too tired to make jelly even if all I had to do was pour it all into a pot and boil it with sugar for fifteen minutes. And actually jar it. That was the part that seemed too hard. But the juice is an amazing shade of red and it’ll be interesting to see what color (and flavour) the resulting jam is. I hope it’s nice, because chopping all those up was a real you-know-what in the ass, as a teenage friend of mine once said to her mother. (“Honey,” her mother replied, “it’s all right to say ‘pain’.” :))

    Yesterday I made more wild blackberry jam and apple jelly with cinnamon. The cinnamon apple jelly is a completely different color than the other two batches, and I don’t know if that’s because I boiled the others longer or if the cinnamon had some kind of dramatic effect on its gelling (because it seemed to gel a little faster) and color or if the two or three not-Bramley-apples that are more yellow-skinned than the Bramleys affected it or what, but it’s very pretty:

    applejelly02

    It’s got a faint pinkish tint I can’t get the phone’s sensor to register, but it’s very pretty, anyway. :)

    The other day I found an apple dessert recipe that I thought looked good, and then I made it and it wasn’t so much good as “I think you could probably get out of a prison sentence with this stuff” delicious, so I made a second batch and yep, it’s that good.

    applesquares

    I’ll post the recipe in a couple days. I’m too lazy to do it tonight. :)

    I’m down to the last half basket of apples to process. I have about 12 pounds of frozen apples, four pounds of frozen apple pulp to turn into jam (because after overhearing me mumbling to myself about whether it was worth saving to make into more apple jam, which is what gave me the napalm-style burns, Ted got a spoon and tried the apple jam that was in the fridge, then left the room eating it straight from the jar, implying to me that it was worth saving…!), currently about 8 cups of crabapple juice and probably four pounds of crabapple pulp to turn into jelly and jam, another batch’s worth of wild blackberries, and half a batch of strawberries that I need to get rhubarb for so I can make one more batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam.

    The weather is supposed to remain unseasonably nice for the next few days, so on Friday I’ll probably go out for a last foray into the blackberries because

    EVEN THOUGH THE LANDLORD AND HIS TREE SURVEYOR FUCKING CUT DOWN HALF MY BLACKBERRY PATCH

    there are still some ripening out there, and a lot down in the park where I got a couple of other big hauls. And then I’ll be done with the berries, I think, but we’ll have another apple-picking party soon and I’m going to have to figure out what the hell to do with all of them then. Like find out if there’s a local cider-maker or something…

    Oh, I also got a new Old Races short story finished for the Patreon patrons, and should get that posted tomorrow. :)

  • Food

    I got words this week.

    I got quite a few words this week, actually. Twelve or so thousand, which is a whole lot more than I’ve done in a long time. I even had a 5K day yesterday, which lent some faint hope that I’m actually getting back into the habit, swing of things, and stride. I reached 30K on REDEEMER, which is probably the 25% mark (it could be the 1/3rd mark, but probably not).

    It feels like that’s about all I’ve been doing, though. I’m trying to figure out how to store more frozen apples, because I have really stupendous numbers of them to freeze, and although I have at least twice as much freezer space as Irish houses usually have, it’s not…nearly…enough. I’ve got more jam jars incoming and plan to make at least two more batches of apple jelly, although I probably won’t follow it up with apple jam because I’m still healing from the napalmjam burns from the last batch. And also it’s not worth straining without a food mill.

    OMG, Rescue Bots is so awesome. They keep having pop culture references. 2001 (“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Cody,” spoken by a virtual reality video game; Skyrim (“…until I took an arrow to the knee…”), and just now, best of all, Back to the Future, spoken by Optimus Prime himself: “Where we’re going, we don’t need boats.” <3 <3 <3 <3 bahahahaha <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 :) Ahem. Where was I. Talking about apples. So many apples. I'm going to go figure out what to do with some apples...