Its that time of year again. The worktop by the sink is cluttered with empty jars and bottles that all need a long soak in hot soapy water before they're clean and label-free enough for me to use for all things I'm planning to make.
The wineberries are safely gathered in and I'll be making a cordial out of those, rather than the gin I'd had planned. My mother in law has MS, so booze is off the cards for her (it worsens some of the symptoms). Rather than have her miss out, as she has on the damson gin, I'll make a cordial from this and another from elderberries. The latter has the added benefit of being exceptionally good for sore throats and coughs.
And I'll still make some damson gin for those who can have it. And the damson jelly that is so good with cold or hot meats, cheeses and basically anything savoury that needs something tart to cut through.
There was a general consensus recently that the last thing any of us needed was more courgette or runner bean chutney, so I'll make a very small batch pickled shredded beetroot and dispense some of it in very small jars, so it feels more like a gift and less like an obligation. I still have a chutney my Mum made 3 years ago in my cupboard, so the whole gift/obligation thing is very real.
Raspberries I am greedily, gleefully keeping to myself. This is the first year I've had more than 1 solitary, sad raspberry cane fruiting, and I intend to freeze all those I can't eat, to get me through the dark days of late winter with a burst of sunshine. Ditto the blackberries which I'm either eating by the handful at the plot, or on yogurt with a thin but decadent drizzle of proper honey.
This will be the first year I get to have a go at bottling tomatoes. On the plot are huge fat Marmandes, smaller Big Daddy's and an even smaller yellow cherry tomato, the name of which I've forgotten. I'll make a couple of tomato tarts, eat some raw with goats cheese, bottle the rest to open in late winter and use to smother pasta, eat my way back to summer.
The courgettes are being roasted and frozen for the same purpose. Come February, when we are tired of sprouts and the dark, I'll throw a couple in with the tomatoes, snip some basil that's overwintered on the windowsill and take us away from the damp and the gloom.