July 29, 2012

The Real Beginning

The big surprise of the week has been our unbelievably abundant pear tree!

We never expected it to drop so soon, and initially wrote off its' shower of mushy fruit as a gift to the land and not worthy of much note. But some dedicated collecting, sorting, chopping and cooking down in just a touch of water, a lump of ginger and some cinnamon, resulted in a delicious sugar-free puree that we bottled hot into sterilised jars to preserve.

The next round sat on the fire bubbling away all evening. After a few hours we blended the contents of the pot, now a third reduced, and added a few hundred grammes of raw sugar. The next day we kept it on a low heat all day until it had finally reduced to about a quarter of its original quantity.

The result is delicious, with a hint of caramel and a curiously nutty after-taste and it works particularly well on pancakes, but really just as good on hot toast or bread.

Following a tip from dear Rowie, I cut strips of plain paper for labels, dipped them in fresh milk and pressed them onto the jars. Once dried, these labels are as good as any commercial product and will wash off easily after use.

With alcohol being a regular expense, we decided it is high time to make our own. We weighed the really yellow mushy pears into a pan with water, brought it to a simmering boil for twenty minutes and then added it all into a fermenting tub with sugar and lemon juice. The brew refused to cool enough for the yeast before bed time, so we wrapped it in a sleeping bag overnight and hoped for the best.

By mid morning the next day, with the help of the early sun, our concoction achieved blood temperature. We added a round of wine-makers yeast, fitted  an air lock, and left it to its' own devices. The soon-to-be pear wine is now snug on a window sill out of the full sun but wrapped once again in the sleeping bag to regulate temperature, and is bubbling away nicely.

The last pear action was an attempt at Perry. Using a small, manual tumble drier we whizzed some pears for a few minutes, releasing the juice into a jug. It took quite a lot of effort to generate a substantial amount of juice. The resulting mush was strained through a piece of clean jute sacking (a spur of the moment solution for not having muslin to hand) into a clip top bottle. Sadly the smell of jute lingers, but the potential is still there for the stuff to properly ferment and to at least be an interesting experiment!

The yard has drawn our attention these days, crying out for some order to provide a focal point for gatherings and to accommodate our plans for outdoor cooking.

The stable containing the hen house corners the old metal workshop at right angles. Clearing some overgrown elder and vines has revealed an ideal space for a bread oven. Every other spot we had our eye on felt somehow in the way or not particularly accessible or simply just a bit random. It is now clear that this corner is where we need to begin, raising the ground to an even level, bordering it nicely with stones and the construction of a sturdy base can begin.

So far, all our work has been carried out using found materials. Having finally received the go-ahead from all the compulsory checks and bureaucratic to-ing and fro-ing to actually transfer the sum to secure the farm, it is at last, officially, ours, as of now!

Yet with no further capital, the challenge is now on to think outside the box, to come up with plans for generating hard cash to invest in quality materials for some real transformations. Short of stationing the kids on the road to sell cucumbers, courgettes and tomatoes for some short term vital funds, we must begin to dream in earnest.

Weekly column 'A Taste of Earth'published @ www.porkandgin.com

1 comment:

  1. Busy busy as ever. I wish we had pears, not a single one on both the trees.
    Sending the money angels your way. ;-)