When I was a child and lived in the fens of Lincolnshire we had not much spare money, so it was the norm to use up everything - never to waste and always to use up "free" food from the hedgerow. So my mother would make crab apple jelly, blackberry pie, liver and bacon with field mushrooms my Dad had picked early in the morning, damson cheese; her larder shelves would be full of preserves, pickles, bottles and home made sauces. We had no freezer - not even a fridge, so that everything had to be preserved. She would even utilise any sour milk by straining it through muslin and making it into soft cheese.
Now that I live back in the countryside again I find that that spirit still prevails here, albeit that a lot of the "free" food is now frozen. And I find myself satisfyingly back in that mode again. So we pick the blackberries and make jam or blackberry whisky; we pick the plums, the gooseberries, strawberries and raspberries and make jam, and now we have also picked the sloes and this morning the farmer has made the sloe vodka.
Then there is the matter of the apple orchard and the walnut trees. Although our walnut trees are forty years old they do not fruit heavily - we are lucky if we get fifty nuts from the two trees!
So I have yet to try my hand at pickled walnuts (my favourite), as we soon eat our way through our walnut harvest (if you have never tasted a walnut straight from the tree you cannot imagine how good they are.) But apples - well that is an altogether different story
In the years when we get a good crop we store them in crates and eat them gradually over the Winter. In other years we manage to eat them all in a very short time. But the windfalls are a different story. I composed this ditty in my head on the way to Tesco this morning. It fizzles out because that was as far as I got - and I am due at a meeting in half an hour.
Steamed apple pudding.
Men always seem to smile when you
have steamed pudding on the menu;
It's as rare as hens' teeth here.
Maybe happens once a year
When there's been a sudden windfall
then he gathers up them all
and puts them on the kitchen table
with a smile to match Clark Gable's.
I cannot resist that wistful smile
so you will find in a little while
I've succumbed and made a pud! (and to hell with the diet for one day!)